Slot:       28D-7          Dec. 28, 3:45 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.                                                

Panel:     The Verb: Morphology and Morphosyntax

Chair:     Elisabeth Elliott, Northwestern University


Title:       Ukrainian Imperfective Future in the Theory of Grammaticalization

Author:   Roksolana Mykhaylyk, Stony Brook University

The development of an inflectional form from a periphrastic construction has been the object of a great number of historical linguistics studies. A classical example of such phenomenon is the Romance inflectional future formed from the Latin construction Infinitive + habere ‘have’ (Roberts 1993). Interestingly, a similar formation was identified in Ukrainian (the only Slavic language that employs synthetic imperfective future).

The purpose of this paper is to analyze a diachronic change in result of which Old Slavic independent items – an infinitive and the present of imati ‘have’ (Lunt 2001) - were merged and Ukrainian simple future was formed:


1)    imutъ prositi > prositi imutъ > prositi imut >prosytymut′.


Recently advanced theory of grammaticalization (Heine 2002) provides us with a clear model that captures principal stages in the change from the lexical word ‘have’ to an auxiliary, and then to a morpheme.

The paper examines four properties of grammaticalization: semantic ‘bleaching’, phonological weakening, loss of pragmatic significance, and loss of syntactic freedom. The evidence suggesting the above defined development is found in Old Slavic and in Modern Ukrainian, particularly in its Western dialects where reflexes of imeti (-mu, -meš, -me, -memo, -mete, -mut) still occur as verbal clitics:


2)    Ščo ty meš prosyty?


There are thus several implications of the Ukrainian future tense investigation. Specifically, it contributes to the extension of the theory of grammaticalization to account for the change ‘clitic-to-affix’ and for the variations in grammatical structure of languages exhibiting this phenomenon.



Heine, B & Kuteva, T. 2002. Word Lexicon of Grammaticalization. Cambridge: University Press.

Lunt, Horace G. 2001. Old Church Slavonic Grammar. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Roberts, Ian. 1993. "A Formal Account of Grammaticalization in the History of Romance Futures." Folia Linguistica Historica 13.1-2: 219-258.


Title:       Verb Tenses in Spoken Russian (With Respect to Speech Verbs)

Author:   Nadezhda Frid, Computational Linguistics Laboratory, Institute for Information Transmission Problems, Moscow

The aim of the research is to suggest an explanation for a narrative tense switch from the past to the present in modern spoken Russian. The research data come from the collection of ‘Night Dream Stories’ (described, inter alia, in Kibrik & Podlesskaya 2003) and the corpus available in Russkaja razgovornaja rech' 1978.

In Russian, events can be narrated in the past or in the historical present. Having chosen a narrative strategy, one can digress from it in certain contexts. For example, having chosen the past as the main strategy, the speaker often uses the present for verbs introducing direct speech (zasnula, i nochyu ko mne prishel myshonok i govorit…[I] fell.PAST asleep and at night a little mouse came.PAST to me and says.PRESENT…’).

The switch from the past to the present is statistically less common for verbs introducing indirect speech (skazat, chto ‘to tell that’) and is not typical for speech verbs without sentential complements (izvinitsya  ‘to apologize’).

The regularity can be accounted for in the following way. Direct speech reproduces the speech act from the viewpoint of its speaker and focuses on the unfolding of events. Indirect speech does not reproduce but reports the speech act in order to get the gist. Speech verbs without sentential complements only refer to a speech act. Since the historical present reflects events as if unfolding before the speaker’s and hearer’s eyes, the tense switch from the past to the present is typical for verbs introducing direct speech, less typical for verbs introducing indirect speech and not typical for speech verbs without sentential complements.



Kibrik A.A., Podlesskaya V.I. 2003. K sozdaniju korpusov ustnoj russkoj rechi: principy transkribirovanija / Nauchno-texnicheskaja informacija-2, 10, pp. 5-12.

Russkaja razgovornaja rech′. Teksty. Otv. red. Zemskaja E.A., Kapanadze L.A. M.,1978.


Title:       The Communicative Status of Previously Undescribed Morphosyntactic Peculiarities of Upper Sorbian

Author:   Gary H. Toops, Wichita State University

The proposed paper presents findings resulting from an examination of several morphosyntactic features of Upper Sorbian that are neither shared by other Slavic languages nor attributable to external (i.e., German or Czech) influences. These include:  a) conflation in the derivation of possessive forms of feminine nouns (both proper and common) and that of married women’s surnames, as evidenced by their occurrence in some serial possessive constructions; b) the apparent conflation or syncretism of the dative and accusative short forms of the Upper Sorbian reflexive pronoun (sej, so); c) the use of žadyn ‘no, none’ as an indefinite pronoun or adjective signifying ‘someone/ anyone, some’; d) variability in the simple negation of compound verb tenses; and e) the use of forms of the conditional/subjunctive mood to denote a future-in-the-past in the sentential complements of past-tense performatives (verba dicendi and verba cogitandi).

This paper is a follow-up to an earlier one (since accepted and scheduled for publication as a journal article) in that it presents findings from fieldwork with native speakers of Upper Sorbian conducted in July–August 2006. Based upon the incipient analyses provided in the earlier paper, this paper explores the extent to which the identified morphosyntactic features actually characterize the speech/language use of contemporary native speakers of Upper Sorbian. The current communicative status of the cited features will be determined through the use of both written questionnaires and recorded personal interviews. The Sorbs to be interviewed will range in age from approximately 25 to 75 years; it is thus expected that it will be possible to confirm or discount diachronic changes in language use among several generations of speakers


Title:       Imperfectivization in Russian Viewed through Internet Data

Authors: Irina Mikaelian, The Pennsylvania State University; Alexei Shmelev, Moscow Pedagogical State University; Anna Zalizniak, Institute of Linguistics, Russian Academy of Sciences

Existing works dedicated to Russian aspect are based on data collected from dictionaries or printed, mostly literary, texts and on the introspection of the author. However, nowadays, one cannot avoid using the Russian Internet which contains an unlimited corpus of texts in Russian. The Internet genre that is of special interest for linguistic investigations can be called “written colloquial.”

In this paper, we use Internet data to reconsider the mechanism of imperfectivization in Russian in order to redefine its scope and its limits.

It is well known that the morphological imperfectivization is a highly productive mechanism in Russian. Nevertheless, there exist perfective verbs that do not have a standard imperfective correlate and are traditionally defined as perfectiva tantum. Many of these presumably “non convertible” verbs denote instantaneous events. In spite of the existence of numerous standard (recognized by dictionaries and grammars) aspectual pairs, such as najti – naxodit′, prijti – prixodit′, uronit′ – ronjat′, the absence of a standard counterpart for a perfective verb is sometimes explained by its “instantaneous” semantics. This idea is linked to another strong opinion: that the main feature of the Russian imperfective aspect is its aptitude to denote a process. Normally, the standard imperfective counterpart of an instantaneous verb cannot denote a process in progress, and thus is considered defective. Consequently, the absence of such a counterpart is considered the normal state of affairs.

The Internet data disprove this idea: they show that the Russian speaker needs and regularly forms the officially rejected imperfective correlate for virtually any “instantaneous” verb, cf. only a small sample of such pairs: ucelet′ – ucelevat′, poskol′znut’sja – poskal′zyvat′sja, ruxnut′ – ruxat′, and even skonchat′sja – skanchivat′sja. These “potential” imperfective correlates have different frequency and different stylistic status, but there is no general semantic restriction on this formation.

The spontaneous imperfectivization is not only limited to unpaired perfective verbs, but also affects verbs that have a standard, normally non prefixed, imperfective counterpart, thus increasing the number of “aspectual triplets” (such as chitat′ – prochitat′ – prochityvat′). We registered, among others, lomat′ <vetku> - slomat′ – slamyvat′. This process, apparently, contradicts another tendency of Russian attested throughout the last century: a number of verbs formed by imperfectivization are gradually abandoned and replaced by primary imperfective verbs.