Constructions and language change: From genitive to accusative objects in Russian
AuthorNesset, Tore; Kuznetsova, Julia
This article reports on a corpus study of ongoing language change in Russian, whereby genitive-governing verbs like bojat’sja “fear” combine with objects in the accusative in addition to the traditionally normative genitive. While the use of the accusative is still not very frequent in Contemporary Standard Russian, we demonstrate that it is increasing and that a number of factors such as individuation (animacy), grammatical voice, frequency and verb semantics (intensionality and directionality) promote the use of the accusative. Our analysis is couched in Construction Grammar, and we show that the shift from genitive to accusative objects in Russian provides empirical support for Construction Grammar as a theory applicable to language change.