Word-formation processes in Aghul (a Northeast Caucasian language spoken in Daghestan, Russia) include both compounding and derivation. Verbal compounding is very productive and is the primary way of enriching the verbal lexicon in the modern language, using borrowed Russian verbs. In contrast, although there are quite a large number of nominal compounds, they seem to be fixed expressions and no new compounds are created. Derivation is mainly suffixal with the exception of verbal locative and repetitive derivation achieved by prefixes. Various types of full reduplication, as well as echo-reduplication and partial reduplication are fairly productive.
In this monograph the authors assert that Russian verbal prefixes always express meaning, even when they are used to form the perfective partners of aspectual pairs. The prefixes in verbs like написать/na-pisat' 'write' and сварить/s-varit' 'cook' have semantic purpose, even though the corresponding imperfective verbs писать/pisat' 'write' and варить/varit' 'cook' have the same lexical meanings. This suggests a new hypothesis, namely that the Russian verbal prefixes function as verb classifiers, parallel to numeral classifiers.
The exposition is designed to be theory-neutral and accessible to both linguists and nonlinguists. The studies make use of quantitative research on corpus data and statistical models (chisquare, logistic regression, etc.), which are presented in a common-sense way that assumes no special expertise. A user-friendly interactive webpage at http://emptyprefixes.uit.no/book.htm houses links to the authors' database, plus additional data from the studies cited.
This book narrates recent breakthroughs in research on Russian aspect and demonstrates a range of methodologies designed to probe the relationship between the meaning and distribution of linguistic forms. These methodologies are used to investigate the "empty" prefixes, alternating constructions, prefix variation, and aspectual triplets. Though these phenomena have long been known to exist, their extent and behavior have not been previously explored in detail.
The authors propose that the verbal prefixes select verbs according to broad semantic traits, categorizing them the way numeral classifiers categorize nouns. The purpose of the prefixes is to convert amorphous states and activities into discrete events and to group verbs according to the types of events they express. In other words, Russian prefixes are in effect a verb classifier system similar to those proposed for Mandarin Chinese, Hindi-Urdu, and a number of Australian languages, and this hypothesis facilitates cross-linguistic comparisons. The description of Russian prefixes as a verb classifier system furthermore has pedagogical value since curricula may be redesigned to teach students the system according to its meaningful groupings rather than simply requiring them to memorize hundreds of combinations of prefixes with simplex verbs.
In short, the proposal to recognize Russian prefixes as verb classifiers supports the community of people interested in Russian grammar to be better linguists, better instructors, and better learners.
The paper is an analysis of the concessive domain in Agul (Lezgic, East Caucasian). The main means to express concession in Aghul is a dedicated concessive converb. Also described are constructions with the optative and the temporal converb and conditional concessive constructions.
Are compound words represented as unitary lexical units, or as individual constituents that are processed combinatorially? We investigated the neuro-cognitive processing of compounds using EEG and a passive-listening oddball design in which lexical access and combinatorial processing elicit dissociating Mismatch Negativity (MMN) brain-response patterns. MMN amplitude varied with compound frequency and semantic transparency (the clarity of the relationship between compound and constituent meanings). Opaque compounds elicited an enhanced 'lexical' MMN, reflecting stronger lexical representations, to high- vs. low-frequency compounds. Transparent compounds showed no frequency effect, nor differed to pseudo-compounds, reflecting the combination of a reduced 'syntactic' MMN indexing combinatorial links, and an enhanced 'lexical' MMN for real-word compounds compared to pseudo-compounds. We argue that transparent compounds are processed combinatorially alongside parallel lexical access of the whole-form representation, but whole-form access is the dominant mechanism for opaque compounds, particularly those of high-frequency. Results support a flexible dual-route account of compound processing.
The volume comprises both chapters discussing various theoretical and typological issues concerning word formation and the descriptions of word formation in individual languages of Europe.
The paper considers morphology, morphosyntax and semantics of causative formation in Agul, a Lezgic language of Southern Daghestan (Russia). In Agul, the two most frequent causative patterns, periphrastic and compound causatives, apparently share one source of grammaticalization. The former are combinations of ‘do’ with the infinitive of the lexical verb, while the latter put them together as two bound stems. However, semantically 'do'-compounds belong with non-productive causatives (labile verbs and lexical causatives) and are opposed to fully productive periphrastic causatives. All non-productive causatives – only available for intransitive verbs – have parallel periphrastic ‘do’-causatives, the distinction between the parallel forms conveys the semantic contrast of direct vs. indirect causation. The paper makes an attempt at decomposing these typological categories into simpler components (intentionality, physical interaction, event structure), and provides a detailed semantic analysis of labile verbs and semantically irregular causatives. Periphrastic causatives are peculiar in their own way: they may introduce locative or ergative Causee, the choice depending on the degree of the Causee's control over the caused situation. Basing on this morphosyntactic variability, we argue that periphrastic causatives are intermediate between bi- and monoclausal constructions.
Grammaticalization is often considered to reflect frequent co-occurrence of certain elements in certain positions. This paper tests the frequency-based account of the grammaticalization of person agreement, comparing the grammaticalization of person agreement in Tabasaran, a Lezgic language, with the syntax of free pronouns in closely related Agul. Our assumption is that the situation in Agul, where person marking is not grammaticalized, approximately reflects a diachronic stage prior to the grammaticalization of person marking in closely related Tabasaran. We find little evidence in support of a frequency-based approach, at least when frequency is treated in terms of global frequencies. We do, however, identify a highly frequent verb that already in Agul appears to regularly associate with the pattern that has generalized to become person agreement in Tabasaran. We suggest specific information structural configurations associated with this verb, which have provided the impetus for the development. More generally, we show that while global measures of frequency may not yield the correct predictions, investigating the syntactic constructions associated with individual lexical items may be more revealing, and provide a more realistic model for reconstructing the paths of syntactic change involving the generalization of existing and quite local patterns.
We test the hypothesis that Russian verbal prefixes express meaning even when they are used to create a “purely aspectual” pair (“čistovidovaja para”). This is contrary to traditional assumptions that prefixes in this function are semantically “empty”. We analyze the semantic tags independently established in the Russian National Corpus (www.ruscorpora.ru) for 382 perfective partner verbs with five of the most common verbal prefixes in Russian: po-, s-, za-, na-, and pro-. Statistical tests show that the relationship between prefixes and semantic tags is significant and robust, and further identify which relationships constitute attractions, repulsions, and neutral relationships. It is possible to specify a unique meaning for each prefix in terms of the semantic tags it attracts or repulses. A detailed analysis of all the verbs in the study shows that the meanings of the prefixed perfective partners yield consistent patterns. Even verbs in repulsed semantic classes are consistent with these patterns. The meaning patterns of verbs with “purely aspectual” prefixes can be compared with the meanings of the prefixes as established on the basis of previous scholarship, which was primarily focused on the meanings of prefixes in their “non-empty” uses. This comparison shows that the verb meanings that appear with “purely perfectivizing” prefixes are the same as those found for “non-empty” uses of prefixes. We conclude that verbs select the prefix that is most compatible with their meanings when forming “purely aspectual” perfective partners, confirming our hypothesis.