Comparative Notes on Accentual Paradigms in Russian and Ukrainian

Ronald Feldstein, Indiana University

This paper is an attempt to offer an Russian-Ukrainian comparison of several claims I have made concerning the structural properties of accentual paradigms in Russian. Although the comparison of will primarily involve standard Russian and Ukrainian, Belarusian will also be mentioned where relevant.

The comparison will related to the following two main topics:

1. In several papers, I have attempted to demonstrate that Russian accentual oppositions are united by the fact that within any given morphological subparadigm (e.g. zero-noun singular), there are generally three entities in opposition, always including fixed, immobile stress plus two others. Due to complementary distribution, the invariant properties of the other two can be stated. Exceptions do exist in some paradigms, but the general pattern seems to support the above thesis.

2. Accentual opposition of forms within a Russian morphological subparadigm is highly structured in terms of the segmental phonology of the desinences in the opposed forms and the situation always presents one phonological entity opposed to all the others (e.g. gOlovu vs. all other singular stressed forms, or gOlovy vs. all other plural stressed forms). The specific cases used to oppose single entities correspond well to certain categories delineated by Roman Jakobson in his "Morfologicheskie nabljudenija nad slavjanskim skloneniem."

In some instances, the invariant properties which I established for Russian paradigms may be the key to wider East Slavic patterns. E.g., I have assumed that the Russian initial-final stress subparadigm really has initial as its distinctive property. If one looks at a Ukrainian plural, such as that of golova, it turns out that the oblique plural has the more distinctive initial stress, in contrast to its final stress in Russian. This can be linked to the need for the Ukrainian a-noun plural to clearly differentiate productive end-stress from mobile, which is not an issue in Russian, since plural end-stress in a-nouns is a marginal category.

In a number of cases, Ukrainian manifests its well-known tendency to more having more variants and unstabilized stresses. Therefore, a comparison to Russian must be done first from the perspective of variants "a" and "b." The first variant may coincide with the Russian pattern, while the second violates it. Since this is a work in progress, all of the patterns of similarity and difference have not yet been elaborated. However, the final report will attempt to lay out the morphological areas in which there is structural identity in the Russian and Ukrainian accentual patterns, as well as those which are fundamentally different.