Russian hypocoristic formation

Svetlana Soglasnova, The University of Chicago

I discuss several aspects of truncation in Russian hypocoristic formation. In the course of this study, a corpus of Russian hypocoristics (nicknames) was developed. The corpus currently includes all data in the four major sources: the dictionaries of Russian personal names by Benson (1992) and Petrovskij (1995) and the studies of Russian hypocoristics by Danilina (1970) and Stankiewicz (1968). This amounts to 2596 first names, 2600 hypocoristics, and about 6,400 name–hypocoristic pairs. The linguistic tagging of the data includes the structure of the first names and the hypocoristics, and the type of hypocoristic formation. The sociolinguistic information such the frequency (Nikonov (1974), Shchetinin (1975), Suslova and Superanskaja (1991)) and the gender of the base name is also recorded. The data in the corpus is represented in a relational database format, implemented with MS Access.

The analysis of this corpus with relational database tools adds new findings and quantitative detail to the earlier descriptions by Danilina (1970) and Stankiewicz (1968). Most importantly, a major distinction is drawn between two types of truncation, atemplatic and templatic. Atemplatic truncation, which targets the morphological material regardless of the prosodic shape of the resultant stem, has been discussed when accompanied by affixation in Russian word–formation by Isachenko (1972), Zemskaia (1973), Uluxanov (1975), Worth (1976), Lopatin (1977), Russkaja Grammatika(1980), Darden (1982), Nemchenko (1984) and Sigalov (1996). In hypocoristic formation, however, atemplatic truncation occurs without accompanying affixation, and affects a large number of submorphs. Some examples are given in (1):

(1) Atemplatic truncation

(a)Vj, e.g. –ij, –ej, –aj averij—averja, eremej—erema, ermolaj—ermola

(b) V+nasal, e.g. –in, –im, –on etc.: angelin—angelja/angela, anisim—anisja/anisa, apollon—apolja/apola

(c) –id, –it, –os, –or etc: platonida—platonja, anikita—anik–a, aronos—arona/aronja, nikanor—nikanja/nikana

(d) a sequence of submorphs: –if+or onisifor—onisa/onisja, –as+ij afanasij—afonja, etc.

Templatic truncation, on the other hand, is sensitive to the prosodic shape of the truncated stem which in Russian is a monosyllable:

(2) Templatic truncation to a monosyllabic stem (cf. (1)) averij—vera, eremej—erja, ermolaj—erma, angelin—gelja/gela, anisim—sima, apollon—alja, polja, platonida—nida, anikita—nika, kita, aronos—ronja, nikanor—nika, kanja/kana, nora, onisifor—onja, afanasij—fanja/fana/fonja, nasa/nasja, etc.

Another distinct type of hypocoristic formation which we suggest is paradigm switch, as in (3):

(3) or –ora/orja, maruf—marufa, mares—maresja, milovan—milovana.

The quantitative findings include:

– The productivity of templatic and atemplatic types, as well as the ambiguous cases in (4), which can be analyzed as either templatic truncation to a monosyllable or the atemplatic truncation of the base name–final material.

(4) lolij—lola/lolja, arij—arja, fiveja—fiva

– The productivity of reduplication (5a, b) is explored. We argue for the marginal character of true reduplication (5b) in Russian hypocoristic formation. The preferred analysis for (5a) is templatic truncation, not reduplication

(4a) didim—didja, sosipatr—sosja, antonina—nina

(4b) boris—boba, nikolaj—koka, natalija—tata

– The productivity of vocalic and consonantal alternations discussed in Stankiewicz (1968): e~o alternation; stem–final coronal palatalization involving gender differences; cluster simplification. For coronal palatalization, we introduce the distinction between the palatalization proper and the preservation of palatalization present in the base name. For cluster simplification, the distinction between cluster simplification in onsets and codas is elaborated, and the differences between templatic and atemplatic hypocoristics are explored.