Defining caritive as a comparative concept

2020. №3, 7-25

Sofia A. Oskolskaya a, @
Natalia M. Zaika a
Sergei B. Klimenko a
Maksim L. Fedotov a, b
a Institute for Linguistic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, Russia;
b National Research University Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg, Russia;


The paper attempts at giving a definition to caritive (cf. John came without Mary) as a comparative concept that could be used in typological studies. We discuss the drawbacks of the current definitions and formulate the principles with which the definition must comply. One of the main principles is avoidance of any grammatical notions, which allows to apply the definition to every language. We start with a list of contexts which should be covered by the definition and a list of contexts which should be left out (such as John doesn’t have children). We identify properties that are shared by the chosen contexts. As a result, we propose the following definition of caritive: caritive describes non-involvement (including, but not limited to absence) of a participant (Absentee) in a situation, with the non-involvement predication semantically modifying the situation or a participant of another situation. The definition is accompanied by a discussion of certain aspects of its application to languages with different structures.

For citation:

Oskolskaya S. A., Zaika N. M., Klimenko S. B., Fedotov M. L. Defining caritive as a comparative concept. Voprosy Jazykoznanija, 2020, 3: 7–25.


The research is supported by the Russian Science Foundation, grant No. 18-78-10058.