In this paper, we analyse case marking in Russian eventive nominalisations recently discussed in Pereltsvaig et al. (2018) with regards to two competing theories of case: the Inherent Case Theory (Woolford 2006; Woolford 2009) and the Dependent Case Theory (Marantz 1991). We contest the view that Russian eventive nominalisations display ergative alignment (Koptjevskaja-Tamm 1993) and argue that Russian is a nominative-accusative language across the board. We propose an analysis for the syntax of Russian eventive nominalisations and show that, contrary to Pereltsvaig et al. (2018), they are in principle incapable of disproving the DCT. The resulting analysis is trivially compatible with the DCT.
Abstract On the basis of data from the Russian National Corpus, we analyze the meanings and structure of the syntactic construction observed in phrases like durak durakom ‘fool-nom.sg fool-ins.sg’, which we term the ‘NOM∼INS construction’. We argue that the construction constitutes a network of three closely related subcategories, which we refer to as ‘Extreme’, ‘Paragon’ and ‘Discourse Change’. It is furthermore shown that a diachronic change has taken place, whereby Discourse Change has overtaken Extreme as the dominant subcategory. Our analysis provides ample evidence for the main tenets of Construction Grammar, namely that a language is a network of related constructions, that meaning is often not compositional, that there is a continuum from idiomatic to schematic uses of constructions, and that constructions evolve over time.
Relying upon the data from the Russian National Corpus, the paper studies Russian wh-exclamatives with and without predicates. Firstly, it makes a list of wh-exclamatives with each of the following eight wh-words: do čego, kak, kakoj, kakov, naskol’ko, skol’, skol’ko, čto za. Secondly, on the basis of the corpus frequencies of the established wh-exclamatives, it shows that those wh-exclamatives that involve NPs predominantly occur without predicates, whereas those wh-exclamatives that do not involve NPs predominantly occur with predicates. Thirdly, the paper reveals that without-predicates wh-exclamatives are mostly Nominative marked and their most frequent type, kakoj-exclamatives, involves either a scalar adjective or a scalar noun, if an NP lacks an adjective. Last but not least, the paper demonstrates which wh-constructions function only as exclamatives, that is, which of them are E-only in terms of Portner and Zanuttini (2003).
We consider the pilot project of the corpus of the 19th century to be a linguistic tool which will enable investigation of an unchartered field of research, “microdiachronic” changes. Microdiachrony will outline new linguistic objectives by means of comparing two language norms that are separated by the span of several centuries. The present study embraces three perspectives that are important to us in that they determine the possible future directions for research.
The first is the immense complexity of the mutual influence between the Russian and French languages of that time, which calls for more in-depth professional investigation.
The second perspective deals with the constructions that possess compound and non-compositional semantics; their semantic complexity stands out only when it strikes our eye, as readers or as linguists, by its incomplete compliance with the contemporary norm. In fact, the phrases ja (tebe) govorju, govorju ja, as well as the verbs of speech which have been long and thoroughly studied by linguists sound so habitual that it takes a special instrument to expose their non-triviality.
And finally, the third perspective consists in the semantic trajectory of the micro-changes of our construction, which also proves to be motivated (as well as the construction’s meaning itself). As a matter of fact, it is quite predictable that a construction with an initially very generic discourse meaning should narrow down the scope of its usage. It “freezes” in the two conspicuous discourse-significant and encompassing constructions – that of self-citation and of categorical incentive, and it undergoes different changes in their contexts. But such direction of development points to the widespread transition from the general modal meaning of intensity towards developing “intersubjective” meanings of the locutionary (speaker-oriented) modality – the transition that is thought to be characteristic of the grammaticalization of pre-modal meanings in general (cf. Bybee et al. 1994: 210-212, van der Auwera, Plungian 1998).
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.
The article analyses within a pragmaphilological framework the communicative function and linguistic form of birchbark letters no. 5 from Tver’ (Tv5) and no. 286 (N286) from Novgorod. In the case of Tv5, we propose that the letter can best be understood if we assume two instances of direct speech without any markers of reportedness. With regard to N286, we will argue that what seems to be another case of direct speech lacking an introductory verbal tag should in fact be interpreted as an instance of the necessitive use of the imperative.
This paper focuses on predicate agreement with quantified phrases that include bolee, svyše ‘more’, okolo ‘about’, menee ‘less’ and the nouns polovina ‘a half’, tret’ ‘a third’, and numerals. This study based on data from the National Russian Corpus describes the modern standard of predicate agreement with quantified phrases containing okolo, bolee + poloviny / treti. The data show that a predicate is most likely to occur in the singular with ‘bolee, okolo + numeral’ and in the plural with ‘okolo, bolee + polovina / tret’ ’. The author proposes an answer to the question of why the standards of agreement for quantified phrases with similar structures are diﬀerent. The factors that influence the form of the predicate are also examined.
Two key issues in Russian linguistics are the traditional assumptions that (a) the aspect system presents ‘pairs’ of verbs that are perfective vs. imperfective, and that (b) since the lexical meanings of the two verbs that form a pair are identical, the affix that marks aspect has no semantic content. In relation to prefixed perfectives, this approach can be called the Empty Prefix Hypothesis. The alternative approach, which can be called the Overlap Hypothesis, suggests that semantic emptiness is an illusion created by an overlap in the meanings of the base verb and the prefix. A long-standing debate over these two hypotheses remains unresolved. We address this debate via a phenomenon that has not previously been investigated in a thorough manner, namely prefix variation. Prefix variation is present when an imperfective base verb forms two or more aspectual partner verbs with the same lexical meaning, as illustrated by the two verbs завязнуть and увязнуть in our title. We present a detailed empirical analysis, showing that prefix variation is both frequent and systematic in Russian, and that our results support the Overlap Hypothesis.
The reconstructions of the Povest′ vremmenyx let made by L. Müller (2001) and D. Ostrowski (2003) have prompted discussion of issues related to textual criticism. I begin the article by summarizing the state of the debate and then, responding to Ostrowski’s defense of his position (2007), I present additional evidence to support my claims that the version of the PVL in the Novgorod First Chronicle is independent of the archetype of its six full copies and that the Hypatian branch of the PVL is linked with the Radziwiłł branch by contamination. Questions concerning the nature of the contamination are also discussed: what direction it operated in and which representatives of the two branches of the tradition were involved in it.
In the present article, we offer a detailed reply to alternative interpretations of our explanation of two eleventh-century phrases inscribed many times on the walls of the St. Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod: коуни рони and парехъ мари. According to our previous article in this journal, the phrases have a Semitic origin: Hebrew qūmī ronnī and Syriac /barren̲k mār/, respectively. In both instances new empirical evidence is provided by S. Ju. Temčin. In the case of коуни рони we argue that his alternative hypothesis cannot be maintained for a number of compelling reasons; our interpretation stands as it is. In the case of парехъ мари we basically agree with Temčin and provide evidence that sheds further light on its path of transmission into Slavic.
In many languages of the world, the forms in the irrealis domain (subjunctive, conjunctive, conditional) are also used in complement clauses. The set of verbs that require subjunctive complementation is similar but not identical across languages. The paper identifies Russian verbs licensing subjunctive in complement clauses, either as the only option or as an alternative to the indicative. Basing on the Russian National Corpus, a list of these predicates is compiled, with relative frequencies of subjunctive vs. indicative for each predicate. The main result of the study is distinguishing two types of subjunctive complement clauses. Most predicates belong to the group which is similar to purpose clauses with чтобы, both semantically and syntactically. The subject of the main predicate is involved in the situation described by the subordinate clause by wishing it to be realized, by intention, or causal relations. The second, minor group includes epistemic uses of чтобы with e.g. сомневаться and other predicates in the context of negation, interrogation and other constructions expressing low probability.
This paper considers the issues of compositionality, concessive meaning, negative polarity, scalarity, linguistic anthropocentricity, and semantics-syntax interaction in a corpus study of the concessive syntactic idiom pri vsjom X-e ‘with all X’ in Russian and its non-idiomatic counterpart with all X in English. The study demonstrates (a) both compositional and non-compositional components in the Russian idiom on syntactic and semantic levels; (b) strong correlation between the semantic and syntactic properties of the idiom; (c) semantic properties typical of other syntactic idioms (such as negative polarization); (d) pragmatic properties that are typical of other syntactic idioms (such as entailments incorporating implicit scales and anthropocentric evaluation); (e) language-specific idiomatic status, which cannot be predicted compositionally and needs to be established on an individual basis, even when a seemingly identical item is present in the two languages under comparison.
In the present article two eleventh-century phrases inscribed many times on the walls of the St Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod (коуни рони and парехъ мари) are shown to be of Semitic provenance. The authors provide the linguistic arguments which support the claim of a Hebrew source for коуни рони and a Syriac one for парехъ мари. In addition, we offer a reconstruction of the historical pragmatic context in which the phrases can be situated. It is proposed that the коуни рони inscriptions can be connected with the seizure of Novgorod and the plundering of St Sophia by Vseslav of Polotsk in the year 1066. They should be regarded as the oldest tangible proof of contacts with Jews and Hebrew in Rus’. In the case of the парехъ мари inscriptions, the hypothesis is put forward that the author was a certain Efrem, a local citizen, possibly a clergyman, who was a Syrian by descent.
The article examines the relationship between time and space in language on the basis of adjectives denoting high or low speed in Russian and other (mostly Slavic) languages. In physics the notion of speed is defined in terms of time and space (distance per time unit). It is argued, however, that speed in natural language is a primarily temporal concept involving the comparison of the temporal properties of a ‘target situation’ with those of a ‘norm’. Speed terms are shown to develop their own metaphors and metonymies, subsequently becoming connectors and intensifying markers. This argument has important theoretical implications insofar as it demonstrates that the domain of time is less dependent on space than the traditional view might indicate.
Analysis of Russian prepositions pod ‘under’ and iz-pod ‘from-under’ in temporal constructions
This article provides a quantitative corpus-based investigation of the Russian verb rhyme and its change in the Russian poetic tradition from the beginning of the 19th century to the 1960s. Versologists have studied the rhyme primarily as a phonetic entity, whereas morphology also contributes to the rhyme euphony due to the regularity of grammatical affixes. The research focuses on a micro-diachronic analysis of verb rhymes, summarises the identified historical trends, and defines acceptable and clearly avoided verb forms. The article also analyses the morphological patterns of verb rhymes including the most common lexical pairings and combinations of particular grammatical forms with different parts of speech. The study analyses data from the Corpus of Russian Poetry (a part of the Russian National Corpus) and introduces research methods and a corpus-based tool that were designed specifically for the statistical analysis and computational modelling of poetic features. The results show that authors experimented with word rhyme in various ways during different periods. Despite the idea of non-aesthetic verbal rhyme, which has existed since the time of A. Kantemir, its use in the historical perspective varies, there are periods of rise and fall. We distinguish two classes of rhyming pairs: combinations of two verb forms and morphologically dissimilar combinations of a verb form with a word of another part of speech. We conclude that restrictions on verbal rhyme apply mainly to combinations of past tense and infinitive forms. Nevertheless, the rhyming of indicative forms and morphologically heterogeneous rhymes is used more freely.
The article explores the issue of grammatical description of invariable attributive modifiers of nouns in Russian, including initial components in combinations such as бизнес-план, шоу-бизнес,фитнес-зал, in which the premodifiers formally coincide with nouns recently borrowed from English and used as independent words in Russian. The paper challenges the theory according to which all such elements have identical grammatical properties and form a separate word class of ‘analytic adjectives’. It is demonstrated that these modifiers display different properties and fall into groups which comprise either combining forms—parts of compound words, or autonomous word forms—nouns in an appositive function and adverbs. The paper thus argues that the linguistic units under survey are not adjectives. Besides, it shows that as compounding is a productive pattern, the expansion of invariable attributive modifiers does not necessarily entail the growth of analytic trends in Russian morphosyntax.
This paper considers temporal meanings of Russian spatial adverbs and adjectives. We demonstrate the asymmetry between the temporal meanings of proximal and distal spatial words and analyze its semantic sources. One of the main manifestations of this asymmetry is the preferred future reference in the words denoting closeness (cf. blizkie kanikult ‘close vacations’ = ‘holidays are in the future’) and the preferred past reference in the words denoting remoteness (cf. dalekie gody ‘distant years’ = ‘years are in past’). However, this general trend is complicated by other factors. For example, short forms of the adjective blizkij ‘close’ have temporal usages, (Pobeda blizka ‘The victory is close’), while short forms of dalekij ‘far’ do not (?Pobeda daleka ‘The victory is far’). However, predicative adverb blizko ‘close’ cannot be used temporally in the construction with a preposition do ‘up to’ (*do Novogo goda blizko ‘It is close to the New Year’), while this usage is typical for adverbs daleko ‘far’ and nedaleko ‘not far’ (Do Novogo goda (ne)daleko ‘It is s still far / already close to the New Year’). Interestingly, in this usage, the temporal reference of dalekij ‘far’ changes: it indicates not the past, but the future. Surprisingly, tut ‘here’ and tam ‘now’ demonstrate the opposite trend: the former points primarily to the past, while the latter to the future (Idu ja po ulitse, i tut mne navstrechu medved’ ‘I walk along the street, and here I meet a bear’; Vesna pridet, a tam i leto ‘Spring is coming, and then there is summer’). However, the asymmetry still holds: tut usually indicates immediate succession, and tam larger time intervals. The lack of predictability and the non-linear nature of the asymmetry between ‘far’ and ‘near’ is manifested in all the words considered in this paper.
The article examines the grammatical semantics of the so-called ‘second compound future’ tense in the Old Novgorod dialect. Two interpretations of the grammatical semanticsofthisconstructionarecomparedinthearticle: whileZaliznjakconsidersittobe a‘suppositionalmood’, according toAndersenitisatypical relative futuretensesimilarto the English future perfect. In various languages the future perfect tense can describe both foregroundandbackgroundtaxis. ItistheforegroundtaxisthatisacharacteristicofthefutureperfectinEnglish. InPortuguesetheforegroundtaxisisexpressedbythefutureperfect indicative, while the background taxis is designated by the future perfect subjunctive. The periphrastic construction ‘budu+l-participle’ in the Old Novgoroddialect was used to express the background taxis,and this is similar to the future perfect subjunctive in Portuguese. The periphrasis in the Novgorod dialect lost its main taxis function and was drifting towards a suppositional mood before its total decline. In numerous cases, the periphrastic construction ‘budu +l-form’ can be explained only with a broader context and its pragmatic features. The periphrasis can be used as a marker of topic; the 1 st person sg. form of the construction can introduce implicit negation.