Definiteness in the absence of uniqueness: The case of Russian

Daria Seres, Olga Borik

Research output: Chapter in BookChapterResearchpeer-review


This paper is devoted to the study of the interpretation of bare nominals in Russian, revisiting the issues related to their perceived definiteness or indefiniteness. We review the linguistic means of expressing definiteness in Russian, showing that none of them is sufficient to encode this meaning. Taking the uniqueness approach to definiteness as a point of departure, we explore the differences in the interpretation of definite NPs in English and in Russian, arguing that Russian bare nominals do not give rise to the presupposition of uniqueness. The perceived definiteness in Russian is analysed as a pragmatic effect (not as a result of a covert type-shift), which has the following sources: ontological uniqueness, topicality, and familiarity/anaphoricity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in formal Slavic linguistics 2018
EditorsAndreas Blümel, Jovana Gajić, Ljudmila Geist, Uwe Junghanns, Hagen Pitsch
Place of PublicationBerlín
PublisherLanguage Science Press
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-96110-322-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-98554-018-1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2021

Publication series

NameOpen Slavic Linguistics
PublisherLanguage Science Press


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