This is not the document you are looking for? Use the search form below to find more!

Report home > Education

WORD ORDER AND INFORMATION STRUCTURE IN RUSSIAN SYNTAX

0.00 (0 votes)
Document Description
This thesis attempts to explain variability of word order in Russian declarative sentences. I argued that Russian word order is not "free" but encodes different types of focus: predicate, sentence, and narrow. Chapter 1 of this thesis critiques several theories of grammar that attribute alternative word orders in Russian primarily to differences in style. Chapter 2 discusses the advantages of Lambrecht's information structure theory and Role and Reference Grammar as a theoretical framework for my research. Chapter 3 presents the empirical core of the paper, a detailed revision of Krylova and Khavronina's (1986) classification of Russian word order types into emotive and non-emotive, which overlooks an important relationship between the syntactic and informational structure of utterances.
File Details
  • Added: February, 27th 2011
  • Reads: 354
  • Downloads: 1
  • File size: 212.90kb
  • Pages: 59
  • Tags: word order, syntax, lambrecht theory, theme, rheme
  • content preview
Submitter
  • Name: benito
Embed Code:

Add New Comment




Related Documents

MNEs and Industrial Structure in Host Countries:

by: seijun, 37 pages

MNEs and Industrial Structure in Host Countries: A Mean Variance Analysis of Ireland's Manufacturing Sector Frank Barry Department of Economics, University College Dublin, and Colm Kearney Professor ...

Information Structure and the Syntax-Phonology Interface

by: georgina, 40 pages

The article proposes a theory of grammar relating syntax, discourse semantics, and intonational prosody. The full range of English intonational tunes distinguished by Beckmanand Pierrehumbert 1986 ...

Word Borrowing and Code Switching in Ancash Waynu Songsāˆ—

by: benito, 38 pages

This paper presents a description and analysis of the processes of borrowing and code switching in Ancash waynus, a genre of popular traditional Andean songs. Ancash waynus, which are sung and played ...

The impact of structure on word meaning and fill-in-the-blank tests procedures on short-term and long-term retention of vocabulary items

by: seyed_hossein_fazeli, 12 pages

The impact of structure on word meaning and fill-in-the-blank tests procedures on short-term and long-term retention of vocabulary items

Chapter 3 Information structure and the partition of the sentence

by: alide, 24 pages

This description of information structure as blocks or units of information is the most neutral one in the literature. So far, information structure is defined by (i) the general concept of ...

Information search and information distortion in the diagnosis of an ambiguous presentation

by: shinta, 12 pages

Physicians often encounter diagnostic problems with ambiguous and conflicting features. What are they likely to do in such situations? We presented a diagnostic scenario to 84 family physicians ...

Consulting Fees for Grant Proposal Writing: An Exchange of Ideas and Information from TGCI-Forum

by: samanta, 9 pages

TGCI-Forum is The Grantsmanship Center's online discussion group for training program graduates. In addition to posting job openings, technical assistance inquiries, and information about new funding ...

Outsourcing the State? Public-Private Partnerships and Information Technologies in India

by: samanta, 11 pages

This paper examines public-private partnerships (PPPs) for development through the example of telecenters in two Indian states. How might a developmental state position itself with respect to civil ...

Tax system and its Structure in India

by: careerbuilder, 1 pages

Body language speak more then what word says, it reflect your confidence in your answers. Let the interviewers know that you are not only have subjective knowledge but also have skill to be part of ...

Data Governance and Information Quality in the Age of Privacy

by: itxpertpanel, 2 pages

Despite being declared dead by a variety of commentators in the years since the emergence of the modern internet, Privacy appears to be more important than ever. Whether it is as a result of the ...

Content Preview
WORD ORDER AND INFORMATION STRUCTURE
IN RUSSIAN SYNTAX
by
Elena V. Rodionova
Diploma of Higher Education (Bachelor of Arts equivalent)
in English and German, Mari Pedagogical Institute, RUSSIA, 1994
Diploma of Higher Education in Biblical and Cross-Cultural Studies,
Northumbria Bible College, U.K., 1996
A Thesis
Submitted to the Graduate Faculty
of the
University of North Dakota
in partial fulfillment of the requirements
for the degree of
Master of Arts
Grand Forks, North Dakota
December
2001

TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF TABLES ....................................................................................................................... iii
LIST OF FIGURES ....................................................................................................................... iv
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS.............................................................................................................v
ABSTRACT .... ..... ....................................................................................................................... vi
ABBREVIATIONS AND SPECIAL CHARACTERS ................................................................. vi
INTRODUCTION .........................................................................................................................1
CHAPTER
1.
OVERVIEW OF SYNACTIC THEORIES IN RELATION TO
RUSSIAN WORD ORDER .........................................................................................2
2.
INTRODUCTION TO ROLE AND REFERENCE GRAMMAR ...............................6
3.
FOCUS STRUCTURE IN RUSSIAN DECLARATIVE SENTENCES ...................11
3.1.
Basic Lambrechtian Focus Paradigms...........................................................11
3.2.
Word Order in Russian Intransitive Sentences ..............................................17
3.3.
Word Order in Russian Transitive Sentences................................................25
3.4.
Marked and Unmarked Narrow Focus ..........................................................31
3.5.
External Topics in Russian ...........................................................................40
3.6.
Semantic Functions of Russian Word Order ................................................43
3.6.1. Definiteness .......................................................................................43
3.6.2. Approximation ..................................................................................45
3.7.
Further Issues of the Declarative Section ......................................................45
CONCLUSION ..... .......................................................................................................................47
APPENDIX ..... ..... .......................................................................................................................49
REFERENCES ..... .......................................................................................................................51

LIST OF TABLES
Table
Page
1.
Clausal Layers and Their Operators .............................................................................7
2.
Krylova and Khavronina’s Typology of Intransitive Sentences

Revised as Lambrechtian Focus Types ......................................................................18
3.
Word Orders in Russian Intransitive Sentences .........................................................25
4.
Krylova and Khavronina’s Typology of Transitive Sentences

Revised as Lambrechtian Focus Types ......................................................................26
5.
Word Orders in Russian Transitive Sentences ..........................................................31
6.
Basic Word Orders for Russian Declarative Sentences..............................................40
7.
Basic Word Order Types in Russian ..........................................................................47

LIST OF FIGURES
Figure
Page
1.
Abstract representation of the LSC in RRG .................................................................6
2.
Projection of the LSC and the focus structure ..............................................................9
3.1.
Russian unmarked narrow focus structure..................................................................17
3.2.
Russian marked narrow focus structure......................................................................17
4.
Narrow focus construction in Russian........................................................................22
5.
Sentence focus construction in Russian......................................................................23
6.
Russian predicate focus construction with the O expressed as a full lexical NP ........30
7.
Russian predicate focus construction with the O expressed as a pronoun .................30
8.
Projection of the LSC with a narrow-focused constituent in the pre-core slot ...........38
9.
Russian sentence focus construction ..........................................................................39
10.
Projection of the LSC with a LDP position ................................................................41
11.
Projection of the LSC with a RDP position................................................................43

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This thesis is dedicated to God, the Creator of such a beautiful language as Russian, who has
revealed a part of Himself through the complexity of this language.
I express sincere appreciation to my advisor Professor Daniel L. Everett whose knowledge and
expertise in various areas of linguistics are truly exceptional, and whose guidance and
encouragements through the whole project were of great inspiration to me. I also thank Dr. David
J. Weber for his excellent advice and editorial corrections, Dr. David F. Marshall for his
willingness to work with me from overseas, and Ursula Hovet for taking care of many
organizational problems.
I am also grateful to my family for their moral support and encouragements, and especially to
my future husband Sergey whose patience and love have taught me how to persevere and achieve
the unachievable.

ABSTRACT
This thesis attempts to explain variability of word order in Russian declarative sentences. I argued
that Russian word order is not “free” but encodes different types of focus: predicate, sentence,
and narrow. Chapter 1 of this thesis critiques several theories of grammar that attribute alternative
word orders in Russian primarily to differences in style. Chapter 2 discusses the advantages of
Lambrecht’s information structure theory and Role and Reference Grammar as a theoretical
framework for my research. Chapter 3 presents the empirical core of the paper, a detailed revision
of Krylova and Khavronina’s (1986) classification of Russian word order types into emotive and
non-emotive, which overlooks an important relationship between the syntactic and informational
structure of utterances. The data analyzed in this thesis were collected from eight native speakers
of Russian through a questionnaire whose main goal was to evoke different types of focus, from
Russian reference grammars, and Russian literature. I conclude that the seemingly “free” word
order in Russian is tightly constrained by focus structure. In fact, alternative word orders do not
merely result from ‘stylistic’ changes but are motivated by explicit and specific constraints on
focus placement.

ABBREVIATIONS AND SPECIAL CHARACTERS
ACC
accusative
NOM
nominative case
ADJ
adjective
NP
noun phrase
ADV
adverb
NUC
nucleus
ARG
argument
PASS
passive
CMPL
complementizer
PAST
past tense
DAT
dative
PL
plural
DIM
diminutive
PoCS
post-core slot
DIST
distributive
POSS
possessive
F
feminine
PP
prepositional phrase
FOC
focus
PrCS
pre-core slot
FSP
Functional Sentence Perspective
PRED
predicate
FUT
future tense
PREP
prepositional case
GEN
genitive
PRES
present tense
IF
illocutionary force
PRF
perfective aspect
IMP
imperfective aspect
PROREL
relative pronoun
IMPR
imperative
Q
interrogative illocutionary
force
INF
infinitive
RDP
right-detached position
INST
instrumental case
REFX
reflexive
LDP
left-detached position
RRG
Role and Reference
LSC
layered structure
Grammar

of the clause
sg
singular
M
masculine
V
verb
N
neuter
?
infelicitous
NEG
negation
*
ungrammatical

INTRODUCTION
Word order flexibility is an important topic for all theories of syntax. For Russian, much of the
discussion has been devoted to the so-called “free” word order of sentence constituents, asking to
what extent information structure rather than syntax affects word order. Most studies of Russian
syntax excluded consideration of information structure.
The main hypothesis of this thesis is that there is indeed a correlation between word order and
information structure of sentences and that pragmatic considerations are reflected in the syntactic
composition of Russian utterances. This correlation between word order and information structure
will be investigated using the Role and Reference Grammar (RRG) model, which is based on
Lambrecht’s information structure theory (1994) and which presupposes that word order encodes
different types of focus and topic. The specific purpose of this paper is to revise the classification
of word order alterations presented by Krylova and Khavronina (1986) in order to incorporate
information structure into their analysis, demonstrating its importance and, thus, contributing to a
fuller understanding of Russian word order.
This thesis starts with an overview of syntactic theories contrived in relation to Russian word
order, and their main presuppositions are evaluated. Chapter 2 discusses the premises of
Lambrecht’s information structure theory and Role and Reference Grammar as a theoretical
framework for my research. Chapter 3 presents the empirical core of the paper, a detailed revision
of Krylova and Khavronina’s analysis (1986) of Russian word order. Krylova and Khavronina’s
classification provides a solid foundation for research of this type due to its encyclopedic
coverage of the data. I have chosen to focus on declarative sentences for this paper, leaving other
illocutionary types for further research. Nevertheless, though preliminary, the results are
important and show an area of Russian grammar that should be studied more thoroughly.
The data analyzed in this paper were collected from eight native speakers of Russian through a
series of questions whose main goal was to evoke different types of focus (see Appendix). I also
used examples from Russian reference grammars (used explicitly as they become relevant),
Russian literature, as well as sentences from Krylova and Khavronina’s analysis. Despite the fact
that I elicited and cited statements used in hypothetical rather than actual contexts, my main
concern, while analyzing the information structure of Russian utterances, was to ascertain the
conditions under which certain structures are felicitous, when they are infelicitous, and what these
conditions reveal about the information structure of Russian sentences.
1

CHAPTER 1
OVERVIEW OF SYNTACTIC THEORIES
IN RELATION TO RUSSIAN WORD ORDER
Russian is a Slavic language that displays great flexibility in the ordering of sentence
constituents. On account of this fact, it has often been referred to as a “free word order” language,
with SVO order of constituents posited as basic but not obligatory. Possible word order
alterations have often been considered as stylistic devices in order to change or increase
emphasis, e.g. Gasparov (1978), Krylova and Khavronina (1986). However, as it stands, this is
too ambiguous to evaluate because changes from the basic word order are not random but rather
occur for various reasons. Moreover, word order alterations in Russian do not produce identical
effects and are not limited only to “emotive” or literary discourse:
(1)
Qlhkemqbehkv"
DZdl\hyr_y"
þWRVOXþLORV¶"
kak tvoja šeja?
What happened?
How is your neck?
R?Y
fhy
[hebl
;HEBL fhy
r_y
šeja
moja
bolit
bolit
moja
šeja
neck.NOM 1FsgPOSS hurt-3sg
hurt-3sg
1FsgPOSS
neck.NOM
Basic SVO order:
Fhyr_y[hebl
‘My neck hurts.’
The above examples are both taken from conversational Russian and belong to the same
register of speech. Small capitalization in (1) and throughout this thesis represents prosodic
prominence. Even though both replies provide essentially similar content, different word orders
are used. Any analysis of Russian grammar should account for such alternatives.
One of the first linguists who recognized the relevance of principles underlying the flexibility
in word order was Mathesius, the founder of the Prague school of Functional Sentence
Perspective (FSP). To describe how information is distributed within a sentence Mathesius
(1929:127) divided the parts of an utterance into “theme” and “rheme.” The theme is what “one is
talking about, the topic,” and the rheme is “what one says about it, the comment” (Daneš
1970:134). These have also been rendered as a distinction between old/given information and
new information respectively. Using the latter interpretation, Krylova and Khavronina (1986:6)
pointed out that “with the change in word order the meaning of an utterance changes also;
therefore, word order cannot be free.” They stated that word order depends on the communicative
function of an utterance and that any change in the communicative function results in the
alteration of word order:
(2)
:\lhjjhfZgZ³<hcgZbFbj´±E_\Lheklhc
author of.novel “War and Peace” Leo Tolstoy
avtor romana “Vojna i Mir” Lev Tolstoj
theme rheme
‘The author of the novel “War and Peace” is Leo Tolstoy.’
2

3
(3)
E_\Lheklhc±Z\lhjjhfZgZ³<hcgZbFbj´
Leo Tolstoy author of.novel “War and Peace”
Lev Tolstoj avtor romana “Vojna i Mir”
theme
rheme
‘Leo Tolstoy is the author of the novel “War and Peace.”’
In the first utterance, the communicative function is to name the author of the novel, while in
the second to give additional information about the author. As a result, according to Krylova and
Khavronina (1986:6), the word order differs. Here and elsewhere under FSP, in unmarked
sentences the theme constitutes the beginning of an utterance and is followed by the rheme.
It is not mandatory, however, that all sentences must be ordered theme – rheme. Krylova and
Khavronina (1986:137) also suggested that, while the FSP determined word order is “objective,”
it can be inverted to produce stylistically “emotive” or “emphatic” utterances:
(4)
HohlZ[ueZm^ZqgZy
hunting be.PAST successful
RKRWDELODXGDþQDMD
theme rheme
‘The hunting was successful.’
(5)
M^ZqgZy[ueZhohlZ
successful be.PAST hunting
XGDþQDMDELODRKRWD
rheme
theme
‘Successful was the hunting.’
According to Krylova and Khavronina, when two equivalent utterances differ only in their
ordering of theme and rheme, as in (4) and (5), vocabulary and meaning remain the same (139).
Thus, the inverted ordering of theme and rheme is treated by the authors as a mere stylistic
phenomenon.
Another approach to markedness of word order which caters to textual distinctions was taken
by Gasparov (1978), who claimed that Russian impromptu speech is characterized by the
discontinuity of the NP constituents:
(6)
>Dgb`dm@ y
\q_jZ
ijhqblZeZ >bgl_j_kgmx
hq_gv@
kn’izhk-u
ja
YþHUD
SURþLWDOD
interesn-uju
RþHQ¶
book-ACC
1sg.NOM yesterday
read-PAST-F interesting-ACC very
‘I read a very interesting book yesterday.’
The literary equivalent of this impromptu example is the syntactically basic SVO order with a
continuous NP:
(7)
Y
\q_jZ
ijhqblZeZ >hq_gv
bgl_j_kgmx
dgb`dm@
ja
YþHUD
SURþLWDOD
RþHQ¶
interesn-uju
knizhk-u
1sg.NOM yesterday
read-PAST-F very
interesting-ACC
book-ACC
‘I read a very interesting book yesterday.’
According to Comrie (1987), word order in Russian is governed by two main principles. “The
first is that the topic of the sentence, i.e. what the sentence is about, comes initially. The second is
that the focus of the sentence, i.e. the essential new information communicated by the sentence,

Download
WORD ORDER AND INFORMATION STRUCTURE IN RUSSIAN SYNTAX

 

 

Your download will begin in a moment.
If it doesn't, click here to try again.

Share WORD ORDER AND INFORMATION STRUCTURE IN RUSSIAN SYNTAX to:

Insert your wordpress URL:

example:

http://myblog.wordpress.com/
or
http://myblog.com/

Share WORD ORDER AND INFORMATION STRUCTURE IN RUSSIAN SYNTAX as:

From:

To:

Share WORD ORDER AND INFORMATION STRUCTURE IN RUSSIAN SYNTAX.

Enter two words as shown below. If you cannot read the words, click the refresh icon.

loading

Share WORD ORDER AND INFORMATION STRUCTURE IN RUSSIAN SYNTAX as:

Copy html code above and paste to your web page.

loading