Clustering and declustering things: The meaning of collective and singulative morphology in Ukrainian


  • Marcin Wągiel Masaryk University in Brno & University of Wrocław
  • Natalia Shlikhutka University of Wrocław



Many languages have systems of collective and singulative derivational morphology (e.g., de Vries 2021; Dali & Mathieu 2021b). Recent research on Slavic collectives (Grimm & Dočekal 2021; Wągiel 2021a) and singulatives (Kagan & Nurmio to appear; Kagan, Geist & Erschler to appear) shows the significance of these data for the study of linguistic mechanisms of individuation. In this paper,
we contribute by investigating the semantics of two derivational morphemes in Ukrainian: the collective suffix -j- and the singulative suffix -yn-, and the interaction between the two in secondary singulatives, e.g., pero ‘a feather’⇒pirja ‘clustered feathers’⇒pirjina ‘a (small) feather’, and secondary collectives, e.g., popil ‘ash’ ⇒ popelyna ‘a speck of ash’ ⇒ popelynnja ‘clustered specks of ash’. Building on the theory of Grimm (2012), we propose a mereotopological account that explains the Ukrainian data in terms of the ontological distinction between integrated objects and clusters: -j- turns properties of integrated objects into properties of clusters, whereas -yn- takes properties of clusters and yields properties of integrated objects.