Paradigm leveling: The decay of consonant alternations in Russian
In this paper, we look at a paradigm leveling process currently taking place in Russian that affects historical consonant alternations (morphophonemic alter- nations that arose as a result of historical sound changes in Slavic and Russian specifically). In Standard Russian, these alternations are present in some verb forms (ljubit’ ‘to love’—ljublju ‘I love’), in comparatives (suxoj ‘dry’—suše ‘drier, more dryly’), in deverbal nouns, and in some other grammatical categories. However, many non-standard forms in Russian lack alternations or have ‘incor- rect’ alternations unattested in the standard language. Unfortunately, Russian corpora contain almost no such non-standard forms, and the best source of such data is the Internet. However, estimating relative frequencies of different forms found on the Internet is a challenge because the counts provided by search engines are extremely unreliable. We developed various strategies and a program to circumvent this problem and applied the technique to our study of alternations primarily in comparatives and to some extent also in verb forms.