Anastasia Smirnova, who joined our Department as the Language Learning Visiting Research Assistant Professor in the Fall, recently had a paper appear in the Journal of Linguistics. In her paper, Anastasia reanalyzes the so-called "feel like" constructions in Russian, showing that existing analyses both under-explain and overgeneralize. Through careful argumentation and through bringing new corpus data to bare on these constructions, she shows that they are best analyzed as lexically stored "constructions" rather than via the more traditional derivational route. The paper is available online at this link. We include full bibliographic information and an abstract of the paper below.
Smirnova, Anastasia. (2014) The ‘feel like’ construction in Russian and its kin: Implications for the structure of the lexicon . Journal of Linguistics, available on CJO2014. doi:10.1017/S0022226714000231.
Russian has a family of reflexive constructions that have non-canonical syntax and express a variety of meanings that range from disposition (‘I feel like working’) to ability (‘I cannot work here’) and generic assessment of quality (‘I work well here’). Previous analyses assume that these constructions are derived by a regular syntactic rule and postulate a null modal in the structure to account for their semantics (Benedicto 1995, Franks 1995, Rivero & Arregui2012). Focusing on the ‘feel like’ construction, I show that derivational analyses have difficulty explaining its idiosyncratic properties, including non-canonical agreement (independent of the structural subject), as well as the interpretation of aspect. Moreover, derivational analyses overgeneralize, since only a subset of predicates occur in the ‘feel like’ construction in Russian, as the data from the Russian National Corpus indicate. In order to account for their idiosyncratic properties and semi-productivity, I propose that the ‘feel like’ construction and its kin are stored in the lexicon as constructions (Goldberg 1995; Jackendoff 1997, 2008). The proposed analysis clarifies the status of reflexive constructions in Russian and establishes the scope of cross-linguistic semantic variation by comparing reflexives in Russian to that in other Slavic languages