The status of aspectual pairs formed by prefixation, as in delat ́ (imperfective):sdelat ́ (perfective) ‘do’ vs. suffixation, as in peredelat ́ (perfective):peredelyvat ́ (imper fective) ‘redo’ is the topic of a longstanding debate in Russian linguistics. Whereas most scholars assume the same aspectual relation is present for both types of pairs, some (Isačenko, Zaliznjak, Timberlake) hypothesize that only pairs derived via suffixation are true pairs. We present empirical evidence that aspectual pairs behave the same way in terms of the distribution of their forms regardless of whether they are formed via prefixes or suffixes. We examine nearly six million verb forms from the Modern subcorpus of the Russian National Corpus and show that there are no reportable statistical differences between the distributions of forms for perfective and imperfective verbs that can be attributed to the morphology (prefixes vs. suffixes) used to derive paired verbs.
The present article gives a detailed account of previously unknown documentary sources of Leskov’s short story “Episcopal Justice.” This story bears the subtitle “True story. From recent recollections,” which seems to suggest an autobiographical basis for the narrative. The ultimate aim of the study is to determine whether the story’s central incident—a Christian bishop comes to the rescue of a Jewish boy—may have been based on real events. My analysis of the recently discovered archival materials, as well as of the historical circumstances surrounding the writing of the tale, shows that “Episcopal Justice” may well have been based on real-life events. Moreover, we consider this story in the context of Leskov’s other writings addressing the “Jewish question” and trace the evolution of his position as it shifts, in his later years, toward one of equality of the Christian and Jewish faiths.
This paper explores the mechanisms of N. S. Leskov’s creative method by examining his sketch «Lady Macbeth of the Mcensk District» (1865). The sketch, which Leskov stylizes as a description of real events that took place in the Mcensk District, is shown to be much more closely connected with the journalistic writing of the early 1860s than with real life. In his choice of subject matter, construction of the protagonist, plot development, and descriptions of nature, Leskov makes use of the most discussed topics from the periodicals of the time, namely, the «woman question» and the «prison question,» and also relies on Ilya Selivanov’s crime stories and the mystical stories of Edgar Allan Poe, which were quite popular during the 1860s. Consequently, the sketch, about which Leskov said that he had «made it up» in reality came together under the powerful influence of topical publications in newspapers and magazines.
This article discusses the issue of conflicting “languages” inside the literary ethnography of mid-nineteenth century imperial Russia. The case under investi- gation here is the Russian Naval Ministry’s “literary expedition”, launched by Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolaevič in 1855–1861 to study the fishing and shipping practices of different parts of the Russian Empire and to produce sketches about them. Exploring the preparatory stage of the expedition, the author identifies the European and Russian precedents of literary ethnography from Adelbert Chamisso’s Reise um die Welt to Ivan Gončarov’s Frigate Pallas, which may have provided a model for Konstantin. Extant unpublished documents of the expedition from Russian and Estonian archives allow us to reconstruct its ideological origins and to show that it was born from the spirit of the Russian Geographical Society’s projects and the so-called “nationalizing” paradigm of ethnographic knowledge that dominated the discursive field in the 1850s. The author demonstrates that the underlying idea of the expedition had much in common with Slavophile ethnography (the case of Ivan Aksakov) and its project of “Russian science”. The last part of the article shows how this “nationalizing” paradigm clashed with cosmopolitan and liberal ideas when Konstantin was launching the expedition.
This paper is devoted to the influence of Chodasevič’s poetic technique on Mandel´štam’s poetry. In this work we make an attempt to analyze Mandel´štam’s late Novye stichi (“Ne govori nikomu…”, “Kuda kak strašno nam s toboj…” and “My s toboj na kuchne posidim…”), which are connected to each other through the theme of fear. From the point of view of the poetic technique, these texts are also connected to each other through the literary device of the unexpected twist of meaning, which was associated with Chodasevič’s lyrics in Mandel´štam’s consciousness.
Nearly two thousand perfective verbs in Russian are formed via the addition of so-called "empty prefixes" (čistovidovye pristavki) to imperfective base verbs. The traditional assumption that prefixes are semantically "empty" when used to form aspectual pairs is problematic because the same prefixes are clearly "non-empty" when combined with other base verbs. Though some scholars have suspected that the prefixes are not empty but instead have meanings that overlap with the meanings of the base verbs, proof of this hypothesis has eluded researchers. With the advent of corpora and electronic resources it is possible to explore this question on the basis of large quantities of data. This article presents a new methodology, called "radial category profiling", in which the semantic network of a prefix is established on the basis of its "non-empty" uses and then compared, node by node, with the semantic network of base verbs that use the same prefix as an "empty" perfectivizing morpheme. This methodology facilitates a comprehensive analysis of ten prefixes, comparing their meanings in "non-empty" and "empty" uses and showing precisely how in the latter case overlap produces the illusion of emptiness. We are able to fully specify the semantic network of each prefix, and discover that for some prefixes there is overlap throughout the network, while for others overlap is restricted to a contiguous subsection of the network. We investigate the dynamic interactions among prefixes, and identify what meanings are incompatible with the "purely aspectual" function of the so-called "empty" prefixes. The results of our analyses, including complete lists of verbs, are publicly available at: http://emptyprefixes.uit.no/ and http://emptyprefixes. uit.no/methodology-eng.htm.
The paper studies Russian metalinguistic comparatives. Specifically, it argues that Russian exhibits three single meta-comparatives (skoree ‘sooner’, bol′še ‘more’, and lučše ‘better’, lit.), which are derived as a result of grammaticalisation of corresponding standard comparatives and three double meta-comparatives (skoree bol′še, bol′še skoree, and skoree lučše). From a morphological and syntactic point of view, these meta-comparatives are quite distinct from standard comparatives. Unlike standard comparatives, they have only synthetic forms, are ungrammatical with Genitive and show prosodic restrictions and linearly syntactic preferences. Moreover, the metacomparatives are divided into two major groups: skoree, bol′še, skoree bol′še, bol′še skoree vs. lučše, skoree lučše. Each of these two groups imposes specific restrictions on a syntactic category and/or grammatical form of the two compared phrases. Last but not least, due to a relatively free combination of skoree with other single meta-comparatives, which results in double metacomparatives, the paper reveals that skoree is the most grammaticalised metacomparative in Russian.
The paper examines the rejection of evil as an important narrative pattern in The Master and Margarita. Despite the unorthodox and controversial representation of evil and the absence of an unequivocal solution to this problem, Bulgakov’s novel foregrounds the situations in which the characters are supposed to identify and reject evil. For this reason, the metaphors of evil in Psalm 1, which also emphasizes the rejection of evil, are instrumental to the analysis of Bulgakov’s text. The particular focus of the paper is the Moscow writers familiar with the Eršalaim story. This narrative functions as the ultimate artistic truth in the novel, and the knowledge of it compels the characters to abandon their involvement in the production of untruthful literature. Because they fail to do so, their behavior may be described by means of the metaphors that define the three subsequent stages of evil in the first verse of the psalm. Walking is associated with Ivan who moves to a new perception of reality; standing with the critics denouncing the Master; and sitting with Berlioz who ridicules evident things in order to render them meaningless. The analysis draws on Sergej Averincev’s commentary on Psalm 1.
The Russian subjunctive particle by can be used in constructions that lack any finite verb form, such as constructions with infinitives, predicative adverbs, predicative adjectives, nouns and other nominal parts of speech. I compare the properties of these constructions and argue that all verbless subjunctives share a common semantic component – a positive evaluation of the given situation, most often a wish. Further, unlike ordinary subjunctive with past tense forms, verbless constructions do not express counterfactuality. They also represent main clause phenomena: they are not used in subordinate clauses. Finally, a survey of subjunctive verbless constructions attested in the texts of the 19th century shows that the evolution of the optative meaning took place relatively recently.
Issues pertaining to the content and scope of etymological data arise in connection with the linguistic description of loanwords regardless of how long ago they were borrowed; however, the problems become especially evident in relation to recent borrowings from European languages against the backdrop of the full accessibility of up-to-date lexicographic descriptions of potential source languages and extralinguistic information on the concept of denotation. Case studies show that even etymologies given by most authoritative sources sometimes contain fundamental flaws. Etymological description problems often concern international loanwords. Typical for such lexemes is the situation where the etymological root can be easily identified while the problem of finding the immediate source of borrowing or the etymon has no definitive solution. The analysis of the etymology of the noun кларнет shows that the highest probable hypothesis can be selected by means of a thorough study of encyclopedic information on the denotation and the time of borrowing socio-cultural context. Taking into account up-to-date lexicographic sources as well as the time, conditions and circumstances of new loanwords entering the Russian lexicon enables determining their etymology and rejecting previous doubtful or erroneous hypotheses of their English origins. In particular, this is the case of the nouns бутик and легионер ‘a player who is contracted to play for a foreign team’ as well as the phraseological calque серый кардинал. Based on case studies, the paper argues against the overestimation of the influence of English on modern Russian lexicon. While actively borrowing from English, Modern Russian also broadens its lexicon with loanwords from other languages, not necessarily through the mediation of English. The article also discusses the issue of the so-called ‘literal’ meanings of foreign language etymons and the use of the corresponding field label “букв.” in the etymology fields of dictionary entries. Case studies show that due to the ambiguity of the concept ‘literal’, the “букв.” label is used inconsistently, which can be misleading. In this connection, the paper suggests either abandoning the use of the label altogether or clearly defining its sense in the dictionary user guide. Where it is made use of, the label could serve to point out the direct meaning of the source lexical unit in the present-day source language in cases when the word was borrowed in a clearly figurative meaning.
The article focuses on the Nordic “Hyperborean” motive in the oeuvre by Russian émigré poet Nikolaï Gronsky (1909–1934) and especially in his poetic play Scenes from Spinoza’s life. Gronsky, who inherited his interest for the Dutch philosopher from his literary “mother” Marina Cvetaeva, surprisingly puts Spinoza into a Nordic context when he makes him meet an enigmatic old poet who comes from a snowy country. Our argument is that this country should be identified with Russia and the poet with Gavrila Deržavin, whose classicist poetics deeply marked Gronsky’s own poetical style. Deržavin, who lived a century later than Spinoza did, is described by Gronsky as an emblematic rather than a historical figure and helps him to completely reconfigure Spinoza’s philosophical image. It is precisely after his contact with the northern poet that Spinoza happens to become involved in a mystical discourse which is also related to “Hyperborean” and Russian nationalistic topics.
The article focuses on imperfective imperatives at the early stages of Russian child
and child-directed speech. Its goal is to explore the factors determining the choice
of aspect in the imperative. Results showed that the distribution of perfective
and imperfective verb tokens in parental speech does not directly influence the
percentage of perfectives and imperfectives in child language. Children acquire
imperfective imperatives following some semantic patterns: the verbs of motion
and body positioning occur first, followed by the verbs of manipulative activity
and those aimed at drawing attention to an object. The results indicate the role of
actionality in the acquisition of modal and aspectual meanings and corroborate the fact that some verb classes show different patterns of aspectual behavior.
The paper is dedicated to the major texts written by Majakovskij in 1929, the year preceding his death: “Razgovor s tovariščem Leninym” (“A talk with Comrade Lenin”), “Rasskaz Chrenova o Kuzneckostroe i o ljudjach Kuznecka” (“The Story of Khrenov about Kuznetskstroj and about people of Kuznetsk”), and “Stichi o sovetskom pasporte” (“Verses on the Soviet Passport”). The official literary criticism of the Soviet era regarded them as pieces of well-behaved, exemplary Soviet poetry. Subsequently, they were perceived as tendentious, which continues to be the received view in contemporary criticism.
The aim of this paper is to show the continuity of Majakovskij’s grotesque technique from his early works up to his latest ideologically driven texts. The shocking imagery of grandiosity sets him off the mainstream imagery of contemporary official Soviet poetry, labeled by Tynjanov as “golaja oda” (lit. “bare ode”). It is shown how Majakovskij’s style progressively comes into collision with the emerging mainstream Soviet discourse, which corresponds with the poet’s crisis of self-consciousness and the emergence of insoluble internal contradictions the year of the “Great Turn”.
The article explores the representation of hybridization of Ukrainian and Russian identity in Alexander Kuprin’s story “Olesia” (1898). Using the concept of “internal colonization” as a nuanced version of postcolonial theory applied to the context of Russian Empire, the author analyzes the hidden motives that are connected to the ethnic groups and stereotypes. The key feature of the main heroine, unnoticed by the previous scholars, is her Russian origin and, thus, the Ukrainian mimicry. This important detail enables a new interpretation of protagonist’s love to Olesia. This love story and orientalization of the heroine can be read as Russian intelligentsia’s unconscious anxiety of dangerous peasants. The article traces how Kuprin discredits the populist ideology and idea of civilizing mission working with the most painful myths and discourses of fin de siècle imperial culture.
This article offers a detailed analysis of Osip Mandelstam’s poem Na otkosy, Volga, chlyn’, Volga, chlyn’. The main purpose of the paper is to describe how the poet uses folklore and pseudo-folklore traditions to create his own text. The author concludes that certain words and metaphors dispersed in Mandelstam’s poem refer to folklore topoi. As a result, the poem seems to be intuitively understandable despite the fact that the grammatical structure complicates the perception of its semantics. Thus, Mandelstam’s poem does not appear to be “obscured” (tëmnoe), contrary to what has been commonly pointed out in previous studies. Moreover, even immanent analysis allows the reader to understand the main semantic features of the text. The article calls into question the intertextual approach, which is the most common, to the late work of Mandelstam.