Origins
of the Russian referential system:
Alternative scenarios
Andrej A. Kibrik
(Institute of Linguistics, Russian Academy of Sciences,
and Lomonosov Moscow State University)
[email protected]
SLE 2012
Stockholm, August 31
1
Referential system
 Reduced referential devices
 free pronouns, bound pronouns, zero
 Patterns of their discourse use
 In this talk:
 only subject reference
2
Relevance
 Referential system is among the basic

grammatical properties of a language
It has important bearing upon many other
features:







categories of person, number, gender
use of finite and non-finite verb forms
pronouns as a lexical class
clause-internal syntax
argumenthood
syntax of complex sentence
...........................
3
WALS composer:
Dryer and Siewierska

Consistent languages: free, bound, zero
4
Reduced referential
Familiar
devicesfacts:
Zero
Free pronoun
Free pronoun ~
zero
Inflection
(bound pronoun)
Bound pronoun
Free pronoun
plus inflection
(agreement)
‘he plays/played’
Japanese
English
Mandarin
Ø asonda
he played
tā~Ø zà wánshuă ne
Latin
lūd-it
Spoken French i-žu (graphic il joue)
German
er spiel-t
5
The Germanic system
 Found in German, and in a vestigial way in




English
Free pronouns plus less than referential person
inflection
Its rise is usually attributed to the spread of the
V2 principle
Independent pronouns “came to be used
obligatorily to avoid declarative sentences with
initial verbs” (Siewierska 2004: 272)
Borrowed into French and Rhaeto-Romance
6
Siewierska’s syntactic
agreement



Person inflection, not occurring without a free referential
form
“Extremely well represented among the languages of
Western Europe” (Siewierska 2004: 268)
 many Germanic
 French and Rhaeto-Romance
 Russian (partially)
Outside Europe, only among several languages of
Oceania
 3 Austronesian
 4 non-Austronesian
7
In a first approximation
 The Russian (and generally East Slavic)
system is similar to Germanic
 And very different from other Slavic
 old Slavic
• Old Church Slavic
• Old Russian
 West Slavic
 South Slavic
8
From Andersen’s “The tinder box”
English
Polish
“I should like very much to “Chciałbym ją zobaczyć”
see her,”
thought the soldier <…>
Russian
“Ėx, kak by na nee
pogljadet’ ”,
– pomyślał-ø żołnierz <…> – dumal-ø soldat <…>
However, he passed a very Tymczasem więc pędził-ø
pleasant time;
wesołe życie,
Žil-ø on teper’ kuda kak
veselo:
Ø went to the theatre,
chadzał-ø do teatru,
xodil-ø v teatry,
Ø drove in the king's
garden,
zwiedzał-ø ogród
królewski,
vyezžal-ø na progulki v
korolevskij sad
and Ø gave a great deal of a biednym dawał-ø zawsze i mnogo deneg razdaval-ø
money to the poor,
dużo pieniędzy,
bednjakam,
which was very good of
him;
co było bardzo ładnie z
jego strony:
he remembered what it
pamiętał-ø bowiem z
had been in olden times to dawnych czasów, jak to
be without a shilling.
niedobrze być bez grosza!
i xorošo delal-ø!
Ved’ on po sebe znal-ø,
kakovo sidet’ bez groša9v
karmane.
From Andersen’s “The tinder box”
German
Polish
Russian
“Ich möchte sie wohl sehen!”
“Chciałbym ją zobaczyć”
“Ėx, kak by na nee
pogljadet’ ”,
dachte der Soldat <...>
– pomyślał-ø żołnierz <…>
– dumal-ø soldat <…>
Nun lebte er recht lustig,
Tymczasem więc pędził-ø
wesołe życie,
Žil-ø on teper’ kuda
kak veselo:
Ø besuchte das Theater,
chadzał-ø do teatru,
xodil-ø v teatry,
Ø fuhr-ø in des Königs Garten
zwiedzał-ø ogród królewski,
vyezžal-ø na progulki v
korolevskij sad
und Ø gab-ø den Armen viel Geld, a biednym dawał-ø zawsze
dużo pieniędzy,
i mnogo deneg
razdaval-ø bednjakam,
und das war hübsch von ihm;
co było bardzo ładnie z
jego strony:
i xorošo delal-ø!
er wusste noch von früheren
Zeiten her, wie schlimm es ist,
nicht einen Groschen zu besitzen!
pamiętał-ø bowiem z
dawnych czasów, jak to
niedobrze być bez grosza!
Ved’ on po sebe znal-ø,
kakovo sidet’ bez
groša
10
v karmane.
The conundrum





The Germanic referential system is exotic
But its roots are understood
Its influence upon certain Romance languages is also clear
The East Slavic system, unlike other Slavic, is quite similar
Can it be that the Germanic system was borrowed into East Slavic


If yes, through what specific sociolinguistic scenario?
If not, why are the systems so similar?
 failing to affect West and South Slavic, with which Germanic was in a
more intense and direct contact?
 specifically, leaping over Polish?
11
In this talk
 Characterize the Russian referential
system and its peculiarities
 Suggest hypotheses on the rise of this
rather convoluted system
12
The Russian (East Slavic) system of
subject reference: further details
 Variation:
inflection = bound pronoun
• On igra-et
~
Igra-et
he play-Pres.3Sgplay-Pres.3Sg
‘He plays’
• Ø Igra-et ??
 Split inflection:
 Non-past: person-number
 Past: gender-number
• On igra-l-ø
~
he play-Past-MSg
Igra-l-ø
‘He played’
play-Past-MSg
13
Natural examples
A
on
sejčas ne
u neë živ-ët …
But he
now
not at her live-Pres.3Sg
But he does not live at hers now…
S”exa-l-ø …
Dom snima-et
move-Past-MSg
house rent-Pres.3Sg
He has moved… He is renting a house
Pattern 1:
free pronoun +
inflection
Pattern 2:
inflection
NB: no person
inflection in the past
(Pavlova 2011)






The frequency difference (Kibrik 1996, Grenoble 2001, Seo 2001, Zdorenko 2009) :
 pronoun + inflection (pattern 1): between 2/3 and 3/4
 just inflection (pattern 2): between 1/4 and 1/3
Pattern 1 (dominant) is very Germanic-like
Pattern 2 (secondary but still strong) is traditional IE, shared by other Slavic
Inflection is often the only overt bearer of the referential function
Inflectional markers, unlike Germanic, clearly deserve the status of ancillary
referential devices
This system can thus be characterized as the Germanic pattern with a strong old
14
Indo-European accent
Flexibility of Russian
Luke 19, 12-15
OCS: referential inflection
OCS
<...> и быстъ егда сѧ възврати
Russian Synodal
И когда возвратился
Russian Averintsev И вот когда он возвратился
English
When he was returned
OCS
<...> и рече а пригласѧтъ емоу рабы ты
Russian Synodal
велел призвать к себе рабов тех
Russian Averintsev велел он вызвать к себе тех слуг
English
then he commanded these servants to be called unto him,
OCS
имъ же дастъ съребро
Russian Synodal
которым дал серебро
Russian Averintsev которым дал деньги
English
to whom he had given the money.
15
Flexibility of Russian
Luke 19, 12-15
OCS: referential inflection
OCS
<...> и быстъ егда сѧ възврати
Russian Synodal
И когда возвратился
English: pronoun
Russian Averintsev И вот когда он возвратился
English
When he was returned
OCS
<...> и рече а пригласѧтъ емоу рабы ты
Russian Synodal
велел призвать к себе рабов тех
Russian Averintsev велел он вызвать к себе тех слуг
English
then he commanded these servants to be called unto him,
OCS
имъ же дастъ съребро
Russian Synodal
которым дал серебро
Russian Averintsev которым дал деньги
English
to whom he had given the money.
16
Flexibility of Russian
Luke 19, 12-15
OCS: referential inflection
OCS
<...> и быстъ егда сѧ възврати
Russian Synodal
И когда возвратился
English: pronoun
Russian Averintsev И вот когда он возвратился
English
When he was returned
OCS
<...> и рече а пригласѧтъ емоу рабы ты
Russian Synodal
велел призвать к себе рабов тех
Russian Averintsev велел он вызвать к себе тех слуг
“Synodal Russian”
mimicking OCS
English
then he commanded these servants to be called unto him,
OCS
имъ же дастъ съребро
Russian Synodal
которым дал серебро
Russian Averintsev которым дал деньги
English
to whom he had given the money.
17
Flexibility of Russian
Luke 19, 12-15
OCS: referential inflection
OCS
<...> и быстъ егда сѧ възврати
Russian Synodal
И когда возвратился
English: pronoun
Russian Averintsev И вот когда он возвратился
English
When he was returned
OCS
<...> и рече а пригласѧтъ емоу рабы ты
Russian Synodal
велел призвать к себе рабов тех
Russian Averintsev велел он вызвать к себе тех слуг
English
“Synodal Russian”
mimicking OCS
then he commanded these servants to be called unto him,
имъ же дастъ съребро
“Regular Russian”:
free pronoun + referential
которым дал серебро
Russian Synodal
inflection (pattern 1)
Russian Averintsev которым дал деньги
VS referential inflection
(pattern 2)
18
English
to whom he had given the money.
OCS
Germanic and Slavic:
Typological assessment
German
Polish
Russian
Ref. device
Free pronoun
Inflection
(=bound pronoun)
(free pronoun +)
referential inflection
Peculiarities
Non-referential
inflection
Typicality
Exotic
Split:
nonpast:
person-number
past:
gender-number
Very common
Highly unusual
19
Rise of the Russian (East
Slavic) referential system
 Old Russian: like other conservative IE
 Gradual change to the modern system
 Timing :
 The quasi-Germanic pattern came to dominate
around the 16th century (Borkovskij and Kuznecov
1963, Ivanov 1982, Choo 2003, Madariaga 2008,
Eckhoff and Meyer 2011)
 Two possible sources
 internal evolution
 external influences
20
Scenario of internal evolution
(Kibrik 2004, 2011)

In Old Russian (as well as in Old Polish) old synthetic past tenses (aorist,
imperfect) were gradually replaced by the old analytic perfect:
da-l-ъ
jes-mь
‘I gave’
da-l-ъ
[jes-tь ]
be.Pres-3Sg
‘he gave’
give-Pf-MSg
give-Pf-MSg




be.Pres-1Sg
In the 3rd person, the copula began disappearing very early, the resulting
absence semiotically opposed to the 1st and 2nd persons
Later on, in late Old Russian (unlike Polish), all person-marked copulae
disappeared and subject person became indistinguishable in the past tense
clauses
This paved the way to the expansion of personal pronouns use
First in the past, later in the non-past tense
21
This pattern, shared with Polish, is
materially different from old
synthetic past tenses, but
systemically it is equivalent:
This pattern is completely different:
subject person is encoded
in free pronouns
Stages
of
Russian
verb inflection distinguishes
subject persons
OCS, early Middle-late Old
Old
Russian
Russian
(11th – 15th century)
Perfect/past, 1Sg.M ‘I gave’ dalъ jesmь
3Sg.M ‘he gave’ dalъ jestь
Perfect
Present, 3Sg

‘he gives’ da-etь
Modern
Russian (from
the 17th
century)
dalъ jesmь (~ ja dalъ) ja dal-ø
dalъ — (~ onъ dalъ) on dal-ø
New past
daetь
Past
(~ onъ daetь) on daët
NB: The Middle-Late Old Russian column indicates the use outside
of contrastive subject contexts (Zaliznjak 2008: 248 ff.)
22
Alternative hypothesis
 Widely held view on the causal relations
between diachronic changes (Ivanov 1982: 100
ff., Zaliznjak 1995: 153):
 subject pronouns expanded the domain of their use,
which made the person-marked copulae redundant
and eventually led to their fall
 But why would subject pronouns expand their use?
This is typologically very unusual
23
Evidence of the Old Novgorod
birchbark letters (www.gramoty.ru)
 The first 50 letters (Zaliznjak
1995: 223 ff.) – 11th
th




and the first half of the 12 century
Proportion of the patterns dalъ jesmь and ja dalъ –
18:5
Proportion of the patterns daetь and onъ daetь –
23:1
This probably supports the hypothesis that the
expansion of subject pronouns started in the past
tense and only later spread to the non-past tense
And, therefore, it is likely that the fall of personmarked copulae led to the expansion of subject
pronouns, rather then the other way around
24
Modern Russian


Hypothesis: the quantitative difference can still be observed in
modern Russian: significantly more clauses without a pronominal
subject in the non-past tenses
Pavlova 2011, a corpus study: results provide moderate support to
this hypothesis
With subject pronoun
Without subject pronoun
Non-past
56%
44%
Past
67%
33%


Levshina (2012) performed a statistical analysis (multiple statistic
regression) on Pavlova’s (2010) data
and concluded that the past tense does significantly increase the
chance of using a subject pronoun (only in the main clauses)
25
Potential
external
influences
© Yuri
Koryakov
26
Closest candidates for
external influence
 Finno-Ugric
 Sergej Esenin:
“Rus got lost amidst the Mordva and Chud”
 Turkic
 “Grattez le russe et vous verrez le tartare”
27
Finno-Ugric
 Kuznecova (ed.) 2012




Mordvin-Erzya, Shoksha dialect
Meadow Mari, Old Toryal variety
Udmurt, Besermyan dialect
Komi-Zyrian, Pechora dialect
 Markus and Rozhanskij 2011, 2012
 Vod
 Ingrian
28
Mordvin-Erzya




er’e-st’
jon-sta <...>
Pattern 2:
live-PRT.3PL
good-EL
bound pronoun
‘They lived good’
l’ad-st
syn’ er’a-ma t’et’e-t’
marhta
remain-PRT.3PL they live-NZR father-DEF.GEN together
‘The remained to live with the father’
Pattern 1:
i
vot
er’e-t’
free pronoun +
and
here live-PRS.3PL
bound pronoun
‘And so they live’
i
vaga syn’ vanu-sy-z’ ...
and
now they see-PRS-3O.3PL.S
‘And now they see...’
29
Ingrian (1885)
Pattern 1:
free pronoun +
bound pronoun
 kuin
kottī
home.ILL
 nüD
veljä-n
brother-GEN
möˆ nüD mää-mmä
how
we now go-1PL
‘How do we go home now?’
taba-mma
tämä-n
now
kill-1PL
this-GEN
‘Now we kill this brother’
Pattern 2:
bound pronoun
30
Finno-Ugric






Wide attestation of the Russian-style system
 frequently: just inflection
 (more) frequently: free pronouns + inflection
This might be the native F-U pattern
More likely, this is a result of recent Russian influence
(p.c. Finno-Ugric linguists: T. Agranat, F. Rozhanskij,
massive code mixing)
 and/or Germanic influence in the Finnic languages
More work is needed for clarification
It would be useful to include the Samoyedic evidence
into the picture
And look for insight into Finno-Ugric/Uralic syntactic
reconstruction
31
Turkic
 Fully-fledged bound pronoun languages
 Runic Turkic (8th century), Kononov 1980: 228

arqïš
caravan
ïd-maz-ø
tẹjin
sülä-di-m
send-Fut.Neg-3 because campaign-Past-1Sg
‘Since he would not send caravans (with tribute), I
campaigned against him’
32
Mishar Tatar (Lyutikova and Tatevosov
eds. 2000 ms.) “Letter to the daughter”
 mInča-nI
steambath-ACC
tübän
lower
IčtagI
end
kIrmaj
rinat-lar-I-n-da
ker-ä-m,
Nickname Rinat-PL-3-OBL-LOC enter-ST.IPFV-1.SG
‘I go to the Rinat’s steambath at the lower end’
 niček
jäš-i-sen?
how
live-ST-2.SG
‘How are you?’
33
Baltic






The original Baltic system is not known
Prussian is represented by texts with massive syntactic
influence of German (Toporov 2006: 83-84)
Among the modern languages, Lithuanian is closer to
the conservative pattern, and Latvian to the
Germanic/East Slavic pattern (cf. Dryer 2011)
Balode and Holvoet (2001: 10): “pervasive” German
syntactic influence upon Latvian
Overall, it is unlikely that the modern Latvian system is
inherited from old Baltic
Immediate contribution of the Baltic factor in the
formation of the Russian system must be judged low
34
Germanic





Structurally, Germanic is a possible influence
Typologically, it is a likely influence because of the rarity
of this system
Historically, it is a plausible influence
 Germanic was V2 already in the 6th century (Nielsen 2000)
 Later attested forms of Germanic were all V2 and used subject
pronouns (Faarlund 2001, 2008)
 Different timing for Old High German in Axel 2007, but anyway
by the 11th century the use of subject pronouns prevails
This hypothesis does not contradict the first hypothesis
of internal development; they could have operated in
conjunction
Is it also possible sociogeographically?
35
Analogy 1:
Westernmost West Slavic
 Sorbian and Kaszubian have developed
the extensive use of subject pronouns
 This is usually connected with German
influence (Stone 1993 a, b)
 In Kaszubian, similarity to Russian is
enhanced due to the disappearance of
copulae in the past
36
Kaszubian
 jô
jem
chodzy-ł ~
I COP.1Sg walk-Pst
‘I walked’
jô
I
chodzy-ł
walk-Pst
literary, archaic form
vernacular form
(Dulichenko 2005: 392-393)
37
Analogy 2: heritage Russian
speakers in English environment
 Hollett 2011: Russian in Toronto
 heritage Russian speakers: the “just
inflection” pattern of subject reference is used
24% of the time
 first generation speakers: 38%
 Hollett attributes this difference to the
intensive English contact in the case of
the heritage speakers
38
Which Germanic variety?

Old Norse
 On the one hand, there was a strong cultural and political influence of
the vikings upon Old Russia
• A large share of the Old Novgorod elite in the 11th-13th centuries was of
viking descent (Gippius 2006)

 On the other hand, the peak of the influence predates the time of the
system shift by a few centuries
 Not much Scandinavian linguistic influence is reported (cf. Dahl and
Koptjevskaja-Tamm eds. 2001, Koivulehto 2002, Panzer 2002)
Low German
 Historically possible
• Beginning from the 13th century and onwards
• Extensive German-Russian contact in the Hanseatic cities of Novgorod
and Riga (cf. Squires and Ferdinand 2002, Semenova 1977, Čekmonas
2001)
 Quite likely
• Sociolinguistic variables (who was bilingual, majority vs. minority, age of
acquisition, see Trudgill 2011), are yet to be specified
39
Sidorova 2012







Among the Old Russian documents, the earliest
predominance of the subject pronoun pattern is attested
in Polotsk letters in the 13th and 14th century
followed by Tver and Pskov, Novgorod (15th century)
and finally Moscow (16th century)
Note that Polotsk is situated on the same river as Riga
These letters attest to massive contact with Baltic
Germans
Some documents are even written in German
Further analysis of Old Russian documents, with special
attention to vernacular style
40
Integrated scenario





Restructuring of the past tense morphology created the prerequisites for
the expansion of free subject pronouns
Influence of contacting languages, using the free pronoun pattern,
enhanced the use of free pronouns
 Most likely, Germanic
 Perhaps, propelled by the Old Norse contact around the 11th century
 Further propagated due to Hanseatic contacts in the Baltic (13-17th c)
• Through the bilingualism of the Russian minority in Riga, copying the
patterns of socially prestigious German?
• Through the bilingualism of the German minority in Novgorod, whose
modified version of Russian was further imitated by native Russians?
Such combination of internal and external factors may have led to the
modern Russian situation with its hybrid system
Shift to the new system started in the western area (Novgorod – Riga),
later spread to the rest of the East Slavic territory
Direction for further study: Historical geography of the spread of the
41
quasi-Germanic pattern throughout East Slavic
Heine’s (2008: 40) narrowing

“Such examples appear to be fairly common in situations
of language contact: Speakers of the replica language
select among the structural options that are available in
their language the one that corresponds most closely to
a structure they find in their model language. What
“selection” means is that the option is used more
frequently and acquires a wider range of contexts. In
the end – that is, in extreme cases – this may turn out
the only structure used, eliminating all the other options
that used to be available”
42
Siewierska 2004: 273-274
 “It is not always easy to determine
whether a particular change in person
marking is due to the influence of another
language or to language-internal factors.
<...> Consequently, some of the instances
attributed to language contact <...> are
necessarily of a speculative nature.”
43
Acknowledgements












Tatiana Agranat
Aleksey Andronov
Bernard Comrie
Stephen Dickey
Olga Fedorova
Pavel Graschenkov
Alex Holvoet
Mikhail Kopotev
Natalia Levshina
Ekaterina Lyutikova
Anna Pichxadze
Fedor Rozhanskij
44
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