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Regular version of the site

Article

Non-canonical control in Russian converbial clauses

Russian linguistics. 2020. Vol. 44. No. 2. P. 129-143.
Жукова С. Ю., Zevakhina N., Slioussar N., Glazunov E.

It has been acknowledged that the null subject of a converbial clause in Russian is canonically controlled by the Nominative subject of a main clause (Nominative subject control). Non-Nominative control has been considered ungrammatical. On the basis of two experiments (acceptability rating and speeded grammaticality judgement tasks) the paper shows that the non-Nominative control (by u menya ‘PREP I.GEN’) with mental converbs is evaluated lower than grammatically correct but higher than grammatically incorrect sentences. Moreover, according to the data from the RNC, the frequency of non-Nominative control increased in more recent written texts (approximately since the second half the 20th century). Furthermore, the paper reveals a new effect of the linear position of the converbial clause relative to the main clause (preposition vs. postposition). Preposed converbial clauses are judged as more acceptable than postposed converbial clauses. In more recent written corpus texts, there is also a tendency for non-Nominative control to occur in sentences with preposed converbial clauses. Last but not least, the paper demonstrates that sentences with the 1SG pronoun controllers are more acceptable than sentences without an overt subject.