Psycholinguistic evidence for allomorphy in Russian semelfactives = Психолингвистические данные об алломорфии в русских семельфактивах
The Russian language is famous for having verbal Aspects, as Comrie puts it, “different ways of viewing the internal temporal constituency of a situation” (1976: 3). Traditionally, Russian verbs are considered to occur in pairs of Perfective and Imperfective verbs. Apart from the pairs, for many verbs there are other related verbs (Aktionsarten). These verbs are mostly derived from Imperfectives by means of prefixation and suffixation and carry additional meanings, such as iterativity and attenuativity. One of the types is called Semelfactives, which mark out one episode from a repeatable series of actions, as prygnut’ ‘jump once’. Broadening the notion of Semelfactivity and in her “cluster” model of Russian Aspect Janda (2007) unites all verbs “which extract a single cycle from a repetitive Activity” (2008a) under the heading “Single Act Perfectives” (SAP). Janda later claimed that the choice of affixation for formation of SAPs is not arbitrary and depends on the morphological class of the verb and on its semantics (Janda, Dickey forthcoming). The present study aims at testing Janda’s hypothesis on empirical data. We developed a special psycholinguistic experiment where 63 native speakers of Russian produced SAPs from nonce-verbs (non-existing verbs that were constructed specially for linguistic research). Nonce-verbs were given in finite and non-finite forms which made their morphological class clear and in contexts that provided informants with some hints about the possible meaning of the verb. The analysis of the results obtained proved that Janda’s hypothesis can be confirmed as a strong tendency, although with some limitations. Different morphological classes, as well as different semantic classes behaved differently in the experiment. The following morphological classes tend to use -nu- suffix in formation of SAPs: -aj, -ova, -*ě, whereas -i and -*ěj classes prefer s- prefix. Productivity and frequency have an important role to play: the more frequent and productive the verb classes (e.g. –aj), the easier they are to handle for native speakers. The overall number of forms with -nu- was higher than predicted, which shows the high level of productivity of this affix. Verbs with semantics of impact, sound and speech mostly gained -nu-, while motion verbs tended to get s-. These four semantic classes turned out to be the easiest for informants to analyze; other semantic classes allowed the formation of SAPs with less probability. Sociolinguistic variables did not appear to be decisive for the choice of affix in Russian Semelfactives.
PublisherUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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