The semantic effects of the Subject Genitive of Negation in Lithuanian


The paper is aimed at investigating the semantic and pragmatic effects of the alternations between the Nominative and the Genitive cases in intransitive negated sentences in Lithuanian. Particular attention is paid to the uses of the Subject Genitive of Negation in constructions with verbs of perception. The use of Subject ɢᴇɴ.ɴᴇɢ in Lithuanian depends on the semantics of the predi-cate verb, on the perspective structure of the sentence, and on whether the sentence is existential or locative. In terms of meaning, the subjects marked Nominative are committed to exist, whereas the subjects marked Genitive carry no such commitment. In fact, in our proposal the use of Genitive case in negated intransitive sentences implicates a lack of existential commitment or, depending on the available contextual information, the non-existence of a subject referent in the location in question or in the world itself. These implicatures are cancellable and calculable, and display the properties of gen-eralised conversational implicatures of quantity. A proposal for mapping the scale of existential commitment onto the sentence types—locative sentences, conventional existential sentences and sentences of localised existence—is also laid out.


Lithuanian language; Genitive case; sentential negation; conversational implicature; presupposition; existential sentence; locative sentence; existential commitment


Published : 2013-12-31

Aleksandravičiūtė, S. (2013). The semantic effects of the Subject Genitive of Negation in Lithuanian. Baltic Linguistics, 4, 9-38.

Skaistė Aleksandravičiūtė
University of Oxford, Lincoln College and Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics, Turl Street, Oxford OX1 3DR  United Kingdom