Interpretation of a ‘Petrified Negative Construction’ in Lithuanian

Violeta Kalėdaitė (Vytautas Magnus University)

Most research devoted to existential sentences (ES) in the world‘s languages has concentrated on the ‘mainstream’ ES construction and the features considered salient to existential sentences in general (empty (grammatical) subjects, the definiteness restriction, or the semantic classes of verbs eligible for existential assertion).

The aim of this paper is to offer an existential interpretation of a language-specific sentence type, or ‘petrified negative construction’ in Lithuanian, whose peculiarity lies in its syntactic organization and the grammatical form that the obligatory elements of the construction take:

Kojos         nėra    kur      pastatyti!

leg:GENsg not-is where  put:INF

‘There is no place to put a foot in!’/‘It is not possible to find some place to put a foot in!’

The paper examines the Lithuanian construction in terms of its existential import and the modal value of the proposition related to the (non-)existence of a ‘possibility’for carrying out an action referred to by the infinitive. The Lithuanian construction is discussed in the light of analyses proposed for the Greek ‘potential’ esti + infinitive construction by Kahn (1973), the Russian BKI construction (Rappaport 1986), infinitival relative clauses in Baltic (Holvoet 1999)  and the gerundive there-construction in English (Erdmann 1976, Kjellmer 1980).

Keyword: Kaledaite

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