. 6
( 17)


retracted from the ending to the root in the accusative singular and nominative
Inflectional morphology 143

Table 3.34 Declensions<IIIa, IIIb, IIIc>

IIIa, animate,
stem augment

{R sg : R pl } {R sg :Epl (R nom )} {R sg :Epl (R nom )} {Esg : Epl } {R sg : Epl } {Esg : Epl }

nom sg ntnh’lm yj
´djcnm lj
´xm k/,j´dm dh†vz g©nm
= nom = nom = nom = nom = nom = nom
acc sg
gen sg ntnh’lb yj
´djcnb lj
´xthb k/,d« dh†vtyb gen«
dat sg ntnh’lb yj
´djcnb lj
´xthb k/,d« dh†vtyb gen«
loc sg ntnh’lb yj
´djcnb lj
´xthb k/,d« dh†vtyb gen«
ins sg ntnh’lm/ yj
´djcnm/ lj
´xthm/ k/,j´dm/ dh†vtytv gen=v
nom pl ntnh’lb yj
´djcnb lj
´xthb k/,d« dhtvty’ gen«
= nom = nom = gen = nom = nom = nom
acc pl
gen pl ntnh’ltq yjdjcn†q ljxth†q k/,d†q dhtv=y gen†q
dat pl ntnh’lzv yjdjcnz
´v ljxthz´v k/,dz´v dhtvty’v genz
loc pl ntnh’lz[ yjdjcnz
´[ ljxthz´[ k/,dz´[ dhtvty’[ genz
ins pl ntnh’lzvb yjdjcnz
´vb ljxthmv« k/,dz´vb dhtvty’vb genz

˜notebook™ ˜news item™ ˜daughter™ ˜love™ ˜time™ ˜journey™

plural, or {Esg (R acc ): R pl }, ujh’ ˜mountain™. The pattern is unproductive, and
it is moving in the direction of {Esg : R pl }, the pattern of ;ty’, ;=ys. Along
the way, transitional stages have developed: stress can be regularized ¬rst in
the accusative singular while the oblique plural remains stressed, as in {Esg
Epl (R nom )}, nom sg ue,’, acc sg ue,© (earlier u©,e), dat pl ue,’v, or the oblique
plural adopts root stress leaving the stress on the stem in the accusative singular,
as in {Esg (R acc ) : R pl }, nom sg lei’, acc sg l©ie, nom pl l©ib, dat pl l©ifv
(earlier lei’v). Different nouns have changed at different rates. Celm,’ ˜fate™
has almost completely gone over from {Esg : Epl (R nom )} to {Esg : R pl }, except for
the archaic genitive plural cel†, (now c©lt,) and the idiom rfr«vb celm,’vb
(otherwise ins pl c©lm,fvb). Cnjhjy’ ˜side™ is normatively {Esg (R acc ) : Epl (R nom )},
but warnings in manuals suggest the future may see both the elimination of
´hjye > cnjhjy©) and end stress in
the accusative singular stem stress (acc sg cnj
the oblique plural (dat pl cnjhjy’v > cnj ´hjyfv). Htr’ ˜river™ allows variation in
both positions: acc sg htr© ∼ h†re, dat pl htr’v ∼ h†rfv.

3.6.7 Declension<III>
The three variants of Declension<III> are characterized by the syncretic ending
{-i} in genitive, dative, locative singular (see Table 3.34). Feminine
Declension<IIIa> , relatively numerous, has nom sg {-º}, ins sg {-ju}, nom pl {-i},
and gen pl {-ej}.
144 A Reference Grammar of Russian

In Declension<IIIa> the consonant is an unpaired consonant (dj ´im) or paired
soft; w†hrjdm allows a hard stem in the oblique plural (wthrd’v ∼ wthrdzv). A
small number of nouns have null grade alternating with full grade: nom sg dj ´im
˜louse™, gen=dat=loc sg di«, ins sg dj ´im/; w†hrjdm ˜church™, gen=dat=loc sg
w†hrdb, ins sg w†hrjdm/. The two feminine nouns referring to people express
animacy in the plural, but not in the singular: nom=acc sg v’nm, acc=gen pl
´xm, acc=gen pl ljxth†q. These nouns also preserve an
vfnth†q; nom=acc sg lj
archaic alternation in the shape of the stem.
Stress patterns in Declension<IIIa> are limited. Most usual are {R sg : R pl } and
{R sg : Epl (R nom )}. A dozen or so nouns have the stress pattern {R sg : Epl (R nom )},
with the proviso that, in the locative singular, stress shifts to the end to make
´cb, loc2 jc«. Pattern {Esg : Epl } is found with k/,j
loc2: nom sg j ´cm, loc1 j ´dm
and some other nouns. G©nm, the lone masculine member of Declension<IIIc> ,
is genuine {Esg : Epl }. Certain numerals have the singular form of this stress
(gz´nm, gen=dat=loc sg gzn«), with no stress retraction in the instrumental (ins
gznm·). The normative accentuation of uh©lm was originally {Esg : Epl (R nom )}
with retraction in the instrumental singular (gen=dat=loc uhel«, ins uh©lm/)
and alternation in the plural (nom pl uh©lb, dat pl uhelz ´v). The genitive and
dative singular now show variation (uh©l«). In Declension<IIIb> almost universal is
{R sg : Epl } («vz ˜name™, gen=dat=loc sg «vtyb, nom pl bvty’, dat pl bvty’v).
Only py’vz ˜banner™ differs, with stem stress in the singular (gen=dat=loc
sg py’vtyb) and pre-desinential stress in the plural (nom pl pyfv=yf, dat pl
A handful of nouns of Declension<IIIa> still preserve the older instrumental
ending {-mi} (spelled ¤mvb≥), though it is close to gone. According to normative
recommendations, the old ending is preferred with kjiflmv« ˜horses™, ljxthmv«
˜daughters™, possible but not preferred with ldthmv« ˜doors™, archaic or limited
to ¬xed phrases with ujhcnmv« ˜handfuls™, rktnmv« ˜containers™, (k†xm) rjcnmv«
˜lay down one™s bones™.27 The ending is still usual with ltnmv« ˜children™, k/lmv«
˜people™ (though these nouns are not usually included in Declension<III> ).
There are ten neuter nouns in Declension<IIIb> : ,h†vz ˜burden™, dh†vz ˜time™,
dßvz ˜udder™, py’vz ˜banner™, «vz ˜name™, gk†vz ˜tribe™, gk’vz ˜¬‚ame™, c†vz
˜seed™, cnh†vz ˜stirrup™, n†vz ˜crown [of head]™. Declension<IIIb> has a nomina-
tive singular which is spelled ¤z≥ (pronounced [™]). The nominative (and ac-
cusative) singular uses a diminished stem without the {-Vn-} of other cases.
Declension<IIIb> uses an instrumental {-em}, nominative plural {-a}, and geni-
tive {-º}: ins sg «vtytv, nom pl bvty’, gen pl bv=y. These are characteristics

27 Usage on the web (<04.XI.02>) is consistent with the normative rules: kjiflmv« 99%, ljxthmv«
88%, ldthmv« 32%, ujhcnmv« 0.8%.
Inflectional morphology 145

of fellow neuters of Declension<Ib> . The ¬nal consonant of the stem expansion
in {-Vn-} is palatalized in the singular {-Vn˛ -} and unpalatalized in the plural
{-Vn-}. Normally that vowel is unstressed; it becomes stressed only in the ending-
less genitive plural, when the end of the stem is normally {-mon-}: bv=y. Two
nouns take gen pl {-man-}: ctvz cnhtvz The archaic noun lbnz ˜child, off-
˛ ´y, ´y. ´
spring™ belongs in Declension<III> , by virtue of merging the three oblique cases
(lbnz <gen=dat=loc> ); the instrumental is lbnz ´ntq. The lone masculine g©nm ˜road™
follows Declension<IIIa> except in the instrumental singular.

3.6.8 Declension and gender of gradation
As emerged from the earlier exposition, gender and declension class are largely
stable and ¬xed. A given noun is assigned to one and only one declension class.
With the exception of nouns referring to human beings, syntactic gender can
be predicted from morphological gender. As a rule, Declension<Ia> is masculine,
Declension<Ib> neuter, and Declension<II> and Declension<III> mostly feminine.
In ordinary instances, diminutives are transparent; the derived noun is assigned
to one of the three productive declensional patterns and maintains its ances-
tral gender -- the gender of the base noun. Thus the masculine suf¬x {-k-} and
its expansions ({-ik-}, {-c‹ik-}, {-c‹k-}) take masculine nouns from Declension<Ia>
or Declension<II> and assign them to Declension<Ia> ; masculine gender is pre-
served. The corresponding feminine versions of these suf¬xes assign nouns from
Declension<II> and Declension<IIIa> to Declension<II> , and the neuter versions
assign nouns to Declension<Ib> .
The only problematic cases involve gradated derivatives. Pejorative diminu-
tives of the type msc ljv«irj ˜house™ and nt jrj ´irj ˜window™ belong to
Declension<Ib> , though they have nom pl {-i}, more like Declension<Ia> than
Declension<Ib> , with the expected gen pl ending {--º}: nom pl ljv«irb, jrj ´irb,
´itr. Phonetically, the ¬nal vowel of [d míˇk™] could eas-
gen pl ljv«itr, jrj
ily be construed as the nominative singular of Declension<II> . And in fact, in
less-than-standard register these nouns can take the singular oblique cases from
Declension<II> (gen sg ljv«irb, dat sg=loc sg ljv«irt, ins sg ljv«irjq). The
accusative is still ljv«ire, not ljv«irj.
Another problematic declension is diminutives in {-in-(a)} from masculines
(lj;l«yf < lj ´;lm ˜rain™, [jkjl«yf < [j ´kjl ˜cold™, ljv«yf < lj ˜building™),
which decline like members of Declension<II> : nom sg ljv«yf, acc sg ljv«ye,
gen sg ljv«ys, dat sg=loc sg ljv«yt, ins sg ljv«yjq, nom pl ljv«ys, gen
pl ljv«y. The syntactic gender for these nouns, however, vacillates between
feminine, appropriate for Declension<II> , and masculine, which is the ances-
tral gender. Both agreement variants are said to be stylistically neutral, hence
both ¦nf ljv«yf, which would be like a true feminine (though it contradicts
146 A Reference Grammar of Russian

the ancestral gender), and ¦njn ljv«yf, which would be like a masculine mem-
ber of Declension<II> (though masculines in Declension<II> are otherwise only
animate). In the accusative, the feminine pattern prevails ([14]):

Pfujy/ эne ljvbye (— эnjn ljvbye) pf 150 nsczxb ,frcjd b djpmve d Vjcrdt
[jhjie/ rdfhnbhe.
I™ll get rid of this house for 150 thousand bucks and get a good apartment in

A third set of problems arises with the suf¬x {-is¦-}. The feminine augmenta-
tive assigns nouns to Declension<II> , as in uhzp«of < uhz ˜dirt™, ,’,bof < ,’,f
˜old woman™. With neuter nouns, the derivative behaves like a standard member
of Declension<Ib> : ctk«ot < ctkj ˜village™. What appears to be the same suf-
¬x can be applied to masculine nouns and yield neuter derivatives which have
a metonymic meaning: njgj ˜ax™ > njgjh«ot ˜ax handle™; rjcn=h ˜bon¬re™ >
rjcnh«ot ˜site of bon¬re™. This suf¬x also forms derivatives of verbal roots --
e,†;bot ˜refuge™, ;bk«ot ˜dwelling™. These derivatives are unproblematic neuter
nouns with the endings characteristic of Declension<Ib> : nom pl {-a} -- ctk«of,
rjcnh«of, e,†;bof -- and gen pl {--º} -- ctk«o, rjcnh«o, e,†;bo.
This suf¬x, applied to masculine (Declension<Ia> ) nouns in the strictly aug-
mentative sense, yields derivatives whose nominative singular would put them
in Declension<Ib> : lj > ljv«ot ˜big house™, njgj > njgjh«ot ˜big ax™, uj ´hjl >
´v ´h
ujhjl«ot ˜big city™, fv,’h > fv,’hbot ˜big barn™. In the plural, these deriva-
tives use gen pl {--º}, while the nominative plural varies between {-a} (from
Declension<Ib> ) and {-i} (from Declension<Ia> ): ljv«ot, nom pl ljv«of ∼
ljv«ob, gen pl ljv«o; njgjh«ot, nom pl njgjh«of ∼ njgjh«ob, gen pl njgjh«o;
ujhjl«ot, nom pl ujhjl«of ∼ ujhjl«ob, gen pl ujhjl«o. A minority of these
nouns take {-i} exclusively: k,«ot ˜forehead™, nom pl k,«ob, gen pl k,«o;
cfgj;«ot ˜boot™, nom pl cfgj;«ob, gen pl cfgj;«o. This is usual for animates:
lhe;«ot ˜friend™, nom pl lhe;«ob, gen pl lhe;«o; gfhy«ot ˜fellow™, nom pl
gfhy«ob, gen pl gfhy«o; djkx«ot ˜wolf ™, nom pl djkx«ob, gen pl djkx«o.
The patterns of nominative plurals can be summarized in tabular form
(Table 3.35).
Animate augmentatives like djkx«ot can adopt the morphology of
Declension<II> in the less-than-standard register. Use of the genitive {-i}, dative
and locative {-e}, and instrumental {-oj} (orthographic ¤-tq≥) is substandard,
but use of the accusative in {-u} is only less literary: nfrj djkx«oe (Njkmrj
xnj dbltkf pljhjdtyyjuj nfrjuj djkxboe ˜I just saw such a healthy wolf ™), which
is analogous to vjtuj lz
´ ´l/.
In general, these derived forms are subject to two pressures. On the one hand,
they should inherit the gender of the ancestral noun. On the other, the suf¬xes
push the derivatives towards speci¬c declension classes. From this tension results
Inflectional morphology 147

Table 3.35 Nominative plural of {-is¦-e}

gender semantic type nom pl

> {-i}
msc animate msc ,sx«ot
> {-i}
msc inanimate msc k,«ot
> {-i} ∼ {-a}
msc inanimate msc ujhjl«ot
> {-a}
msc nt njgjh«ot
> {-a}
nt nt jry«ot
> {-a}
--- abstract deverbal
nt e,t;«ot

an unstable declension af¬liation. It is interesting that the accusative singular
in {-u} stands out; it is the most characteristic feature of feminine nouns of
Declension<II> .

3.6.9 Accentual paradigms
Nouns have six patterns of accentuation, which are available to all declen-
sions, but are attested with different numbers of nouns in different declensions
(Table 3.36).
If the stress patterns and declension classes are arranged in a particular order,
some generalizations about stress paradigms and declension classes emerge.28
Those patterns in Table 3.36 in which stress falls consistently in the same
place in both singular and plural, either root {R sg : R pl } or ending {Esg : Epl },
are evidently the most frequent patterns, and occur with the largest number
of declension classes. Restricted are patterns in which there is a shift within
one number, such as a shift between the nominative plural and the oblique
plural, {R sg : Epl (R nom )} and {Esg : Epl (R nom )}. (The pattern in which there is
alternation within the singular is the most archaic and restricted pattern of
all.) Intermediate are alternations between the whole singular paradigm and
the whole plural paradigm, the pattern {R sg : Epl } and its converse {Esg : R pl }.
If Table 3.36 is viewed from the perspective of the declension classes, we ob-
serve that Declension<IIIa> , at one end, basically holds stress on the root; it al-
lows only limited end stress, when stress shifts to the end in the oblique plural
({R sg : Epl (R nom )}). At the opposite end of the spectrum, Declension<ii> has shift-
ing stress only when stress is basically on the end in the singular (archaic {Esg
(R acc ): Epl (R nom )} or newer {Esg : Epl (R nom )}). Declension<II> is the most tolerant of
end stress and of variable stress. Declension<Ia> and Declension<Ib> are interme-
diate, with Declension<Ia> more similar to Declension<IIIa> and Declension<Ib>
more similar to Declension<II> .

28 Following Brown et al. 1996.
148 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Table 3.36 Accentual preferences of nominal declensions

Declension<IIIa> Declension<Ia> Declension<Ib> Declension<II>
√ √ √ √
{R sg : R pl } √ — —
{R sg : Epl (R nom )} ±
— —
{R sg : Epl } ± ±
√ √ √

{Esg : Epl }
— —
{Esg : R pl } ± ±
— — —
{Esg : Epl (R nom )} ±

= frequent
± = viable but somewhat restricted
— = very restricted, (almost) non-extant

The particular hierarchy of declensions seen in Table 3.36 -- whether acciden-
tally or not -- matches another hierarchy, the preference for null ending in the
genitive plural. Declension<II> allows an overt genitive plural only in the rarest
of circumstances, Declension<Ib> a bit more frequently (an overt ending is a reg-
ular option for the class of derivatives in {-c-}); Declension<Ia> strongly prefers
an overt ending, but allows {--º} in certain lexical ¬elds. Declension<IIIa> always
has an overt ending.

3.7 Complications in declension

3.7.1 Indeclinable common nouns
Some nouns, especially foreign borrowings, do not in¬‚ect; they have one form
regardless of the case--number in which the noun is used.29 (Native nouns that
are in effect quotes are not declined: i’ ˜name of the letter ¤i≥™, z ˜self, ego™,
´ym-vtyz ˜name of a ¬‚ower™.) Whether a borrowing can be declined and
yt-nhj ´
what gender it has depends on how well it matches existing Russian patterns.
If a noun ends in a consonant, it is declined as a masculine noun of
Declension<Ia> . Declined are then: ,jvj ˜beau-monde™, htq[cn’u ˜Reichstag™,
ak’u ˜¬‚ag™, fyukjaj ˜Anglophobe™, vfcin’, ˜extent™ (< German Maβstab),
ljyrb[j ˜Don Quixote™, ujnntynj ˜Hottentot™, rehj ˜Kurort™, gfy’i ˜panache™.
´n ´n ´hn
However, v«cc ˜miss™ and vfl’v ˜madam™ are not declined because there is a
mismatch between the feminine referential gender and the phonological shape,
which looks like Declension<Ia> . If a borrowing ¬ts the pattern of Declension<II> ,
it will be declined as a feminine member of Declension<II> : cbh†yf ˜siren™,
vjh†yf ˜moraine™, k†vvf ˜lemma™, k’vf ˜llama™, lbk†vvf ˜dilemma™, cn/fhl†ccf

29 Muchnik 1963, Kaliniewicz 1978:43--52, Wojtowicz 1984:84--93.
Inflectional morphology 149

˜stewardess™, f,cw«ccf ˜abscissa™, g’epf ˜pause™, vtl©pf ˜jelly¬sh™. Common are
nouns with the shape {-Vj-a}: D†yuhbz ˜Hungary™, U’v,bz ˜Gambia™, Zgj ´ybz
˜Japan™. Nouns ending in {-a} preceded by a vowel do not decline: ,j’ ˜boa™,
r†xef ˜Quechua™, gfne’ ˜patois™. Nouns ending in stressed {-’} do not decline:
yeu’ ˜nougat™, fynhfi’ ˜entrechat™.
Nouns ending in {-o} match the shape of neuters in Declension <Ib> but do
not decline: h’lbj ˜radio™, rh†lj ˜creed™, kb,«lj ˜libido™, lby’vj ˜dynamo™. The
familiar words gfkmnj ˜coat™ and vtnhj ˜underground™ are not declined in stan-
´ ´
dard Russian (Vfzrjdcrbq dsitk yf cwtye d gfkmnj b ikzgt ˜Mayakovsky came
out onto the stage in a coat and hat™), but are occasionally declined in the infor-
mal register; thus, d gfkmnt appeared 150 xx out of 13,350 xx, or just 1 percent,
on the web <20.X.02>.
Borrowings ending in other vowels violate Russian mores and are not de-
clined: d«crb ˜whiskey™, h’kkb ˜rally™, nfrc« ˜taxi™, «uke ˜igloo™, ,b;© ˜bijoux™,
´ylj ˜rondo™, ab’crj ˜¬asco™, kb,h†nnj ˜libretto™, vty· ˜menu™, bynthdm· ˜in-
terview™, ,br«yb ˜bikini™, ltdfy’ufhb ˜Devanagari™, rfa† ˜caf†™, ijcc† ˜highway™,
эrcgjp† ˜expos†™.
The gender of an indeclinable foreign noun is determined ¬rst by animacy:30
if a noun refers to animate sexed beings, its syntactic gender is its referential
gender, either masculine ([15]) or feminine ([16]):

[15] Ibvgfypt c,t;fk<msc sg> bp pjjgfhrf, xnj,s dsgbnm gbdf.
The chimpanzee ¬‚ed the zoo in order to drink some beer.
[16] ¤Pyfrb≥, rjnjhsvb gjkmpjdfkfcm<fem sg> ibvgfypt Ejij xthtp 22 vtczwf gjckt
yfxfkf j,extybz
“Signs” that the chimpanzee Washoe used 22 months after beginning training

Similar to ibvgfyp† are l«yuj ˜dingo™, rj ´kkb ˜collie™, fkmgfr’ ˜alpaca™. For some
nouns the syntactic gender is the referential gender of typical usage: nj ˜Tory™,
fnnfi† ˜attach†™, ¦ve ˜emu™, uy© ˜gnu™, uh«pkb ˜grizzly™, gj ˜pony™ are masculine,
while ah’e ˜Frau™, vèwwj-cjgh’yj ˜mezzo-soprano™, k†lb ˜lady™ are feminine.
Indeclinable nouns that do not refer to animate beings are generally neuter.
All the indeclinable words ending in unusual vowels ¬t here (nf,© ˜taboo™, etc.).
There are few exceptions to this rule. Two common nouns, rj ´at ˜coffee™ and
d«crb ˜whiskey™, are exclusively masculine in contemporary Russian (Ult regbnm
[jhjibq<msc acc sg> rjat d pthyf[? ˜Where can one buy good coffee in beans?™).
For some nouns, especially proper nouns, the gender in Russian is the gender
of the Russian word that names the category to which the entity belongs. By
this logic ,tyu’kb and p©ke are masculine, each being a zpßr ˜language™; v«yb

30 Corbett 1982.
150 A Reference Grammar of Russian

˜miniskirt™, as a kind of ·,rf ˜skirt™, is feminine. Nj
´rbj and N,«kbcb are mascu-
line like uj
´hjl ˜city™. Rjkjh’lj can be feminine, if it is the htr’ ˜river™ ([17]), or
masculine, if it is the in’n ˜state™ ([18]):

[17] Gjl ybv nzyekcz Rfymjy, gj rjnjhjve ntrkf<fem sg> Rjkjhflj.
Underneath stretched the Grand Canyon, along which ¬‚owed the Colorado.
[18] <skj dhtvz, rjulf Rjkjhflj d jlby ltym bvtk<msc sg> nht[ ue,thyfnjhjd.
There was a time when Colorado had three governors in one day.

Gender can be attributed to foreign phrases by the same technique, as in [19]:

[19] Alaska Airlines j,(zdktyf<fem sg> kexitq fdbfrjvgfybtq<\fem sg> gj rfxtcnde
Alaska Airlines has been declared the best airline with respect to the quality of its
Internet service.

By de¬nition, indeclinable nouns do not themselves show any distinctions
of number. But adjectives and verbs agree with the singular or plural sense of
these nouns in context: compare singular d cdjtv ytvjlyjv gfkmnj ˜in his out-
of-fashion coat™ but plural cnfheirb yjcbkb bcnhtgfyyst cnfhjvjlyst gfkmnj
˜the old ladies wore worn-out old-fashioned coats™.

3.7.2 Acronyms
Acronyms that remain unassimilated are pronounced as a series of names
of letters: ЭDV [e.vo e.emo ]. Unassimilated acronyms do not decline, but they
have gender (that of the head noun) and number (as appropriate in context).
Thus, feminine is used for the constituents of ldt<fem> ЭDV ˜two computers™, r
wtynhfkmyjq<fem dat sg> ЭDV ˜to the central computer™ because feminine is the
gender of the noun of Эktrnhjyyfz dsxbckbntkmyfz vfibyf ˜electronic calcu-
lating machine™. TЭC is neuter, as in xnj,s TЭC ghjdjlbkj<nt sg> cjwbfkmye/
gjkbnbre ˜in order that the EEC might implement its social program™, be-
cause Tdhjgtqcrjt Эrjyjvbxtcrjt Cjj,otcndj ˜European Economic Community™
is neuter. CЭD, for Cj/p Эrjyjvbxtcrjq Dpfbvyjgjvjob ˜Society for Mutual
Economic Assistance™, is masculine. Plural number is marked by agreement,
as gjzdbkbcm<pl> ljcnfnjxyj yflt;yst<pl> , vjoyst<pl> b ytljhjubt<pl> ЭDV
˜there appeared suf¬ciently reliable, powerful, and inexpensive computers™.
Some acronyms have been assimilated into common parlance, and are pro-
nounced not as a series of names of letters but as a phonological word; for ex-
ample, NFCC is pronounced [to as], not [to e.a.eso .eso ]. The noun is then assigned to
a declension class according to its phonological shape and declined. Thus VBL,
for Vbybcnthcndj Byjcnhfyys[ Ltk ˜The Ministry of Foreign Affairs™, declines
Inflectional morphology 151

(d cntyf[ VBLf<gen sg> ˜within the con¬nes of MID™) and conditions mascu-
line agreement (bnfkmzycrbq<msc sg> VBL pfzdbk<msc sg> ˜the Italian Ministry of
Foreign Affairs has announced™).

3.7.3 Compounds
Compounds are of two types.31 If the second noun is semantically dominant
and the ¬rst is a speci¬er, the second noun declines and determines agreement,
while the ¬rst noun is inert, and does not decline. A gk’o-gfk’nrf is above all
a gfk’nrf<\fem> , which is further characterized as a gk’o<\msc> .

[20] Bdfy Nhjabvjdbx nfobk vtyz yf ,jkmijq<fem sg> gkfo-gfkfnrt<\fem sg> xthtp
pjye j,cnhtkf.
Ivan Tro¬movich dragged me through the line of ¬re on a big poncho-tent.

Alternatively, the ¬rst noun may de¬ne the type, and the second noun the speci-
¬er. In irj´kf-bynthy’n the more general category is irj <\fem> ˜school™, which
is speci¬ed as an bynthy’n<\msc> ˜boarding school™. In this case, both nouns de-
cline and the ¬rst noun determines the gender of adjectives (vjcrj ´dcrjq<fem sg> ),
relative pronouns (rjnj ´hfz<fem sg> ), and anaphoric pronouns (t=<fem sg> ):

[21] Extybrb vjcrjdcrjq<fem sg> irjks<\fem gensg> -bynthyfnf<\msc gen sg> § 18,
rjnjhfz<fem sg> ,skf jcyjdfyf xtndthnm dtrf yfpfl gj bybwbfnbdt dslf/ob[cz
yfib[ extys[, jnvtxfkb tt<fem sg> /,bktq.
The students of Moscow Boarding School 18, which was founded a quarter of a
century ago on the initiative of our leading scholars, celebrated its anniversary.

For any compound usage is largely ¬xed, with only occasional variation: dfuj´y-
dßcnfdrf is feminine if it is more an exhibition than a vehicle, as in dfujy-
dscnfdrf gjkmpjdfkfcm<fem sg> ,jkmibv ecgt[jv ˜the railroad-car-exhibition en-
joyed great success™, but masculine if it is more a vehicle than an exhibition,
as in dfujy-dscnfdrf cnjzk<msc sg> yf pfgfcyjv genb ˜the exhibition railroad-car
was on a siding™.32

3.7.4 Appositives
It is common to combine in apposition a common noun and a proper noun,
where the common noun names the category to which the proper noun belongs.
Two cases can be distinguished: (a) a personal name with title or occupation;
and (b) a geographical name or a title of an artistic work used with a noun
stating to what category it belongs.

31 32
Raecke 1972. Cited by Crockett 1976.
152 A Reference Grammar of Russian

When names and titles or occupations are combined, both parts decline: c
utythfkjv Dkfcjdsv ˜with General Vlasov™, c dhfxjv Dthjq Fafyfcmtdyjq ˜with
Doctor Vera Afanasevna™.
With geographical and genre names used in apposition, the syntactic gender
is that of the common noun used to categorize the proper noun:

[22] Ujhjl<\msc sg> Vjcrdf<\fem sg> ghtj,hfpbkcz<msc sg> .
The city of Moscow has been transformed.
[23] :ehyfk<\msc sg> ¤?yjcnm≥<\fem sg> gjzdbkcz<msc sg> .
The journal ¤Youth≥ appeared.
[24] Jpthj<\nt sg> <fqrfk<\msc sg> uke,jrj<nt sg> .
Lake Baikal is deep.

In such combinations, the category noun always declines (uj ´hjl ˜city™, ;ehy’k
˜magazine, journal™, j ´pthj ˜lake™, hjv’y ˜novel™). Whether the proper noun also
declines depends on the category and how familiar the proper noun is. With
´hjl, proper nouns typically decline, ltncndj d ujhjlt Djhjyt;t ˜childhood in
the city of Voronezh™, except exotic ones, d bcgfycrjv ujhjlt Nf,thyfc ˜in the
Spanish city of Tabernas™. With the category ctkj ˜settlement™, place names that
are presumed familiar can decline, as in d ctkt Rjnjdt, ult z ;bk njulf ˜in the
village of Kotovo, where I lived at that time™, but place names do not decline if
the place is de¬ned in bureaucratic style: Clftncz d fhtyle ahernjdsq cfl d ctkt
{bkrjdj ˜An orchard is to be leased in the village [that is called] Khilkovo™. In
unconventional combinations proper names do not decline: d hf,jxtv gjctkrt
Yjdjcbytukfpjdcrbq ˜the workers™ settlement of Novosineglazovsky™, jrregfwbz
ctrnjhf Ufpf ˜the occupation of the Gaza Strip™, yf dctvbhyj bpdtcnyjv rehjhnt
Bgfytvf d Hbj-lt-:fytqhj ˜at the world-famous resort of Ipanema in Rio de
Janeiro™. Only the most familiar rivers decline, cjcnjzybt htrb Djkub ˜the state
of the River Volga™, xthtp Vjcrde-htre ˜across the Moscow River™ but ,thtu htrb
Bjhlfy ˜the shore of the River Jordan™. Variable is: Pfhf;tyf hs,f b d cb,bhcrjq
htrt J,b ˜Fish has been contaminated also in the Siberian river, the Ob™ but
cekmabls vtlb d ,fcctqyt htrb J,m ˜copper sul¬des in the drainage of the river
Ob™. Names of lakes do not decline in apposition: e ,thtujd jpthf Bkmvtym ˜on
the shores of Lake Ilmen™, vthjghbznbz gj j[hfyt jpthf <fqrfk ˜measures for
the preservation of Lake Baikal™.
If the proper noun is marked or understood as a quoted phrase, it does not de-
cline. Hence titles of artistic works used in apposition do not decline: d ktnytv
yjvtht ;ehyfkf ¤Ajhby faathc≥ ˜in the summer issue of the journal Foreign
Affairs™, D эnjv rf,bytnt Ljcnjtdcrbq hf,jnfk yfl hjvfyjv ¤<hfnmz
Rfhfvfpjds≥ ˜It was in this study that Dostoevsky worked on the novel The
Brothers Karamazov™.
Inflectional morphology 153

If these proper names are used by themselves, not in apposition, they do
decline, and animate names of books are treated as animate: Z, yfghbvth, yt
dbltk <fqrfkf, hfpkbdf J,b d tt ecnmt ˜I, for one, have not seen Baikal, the bay
of the Ob at its mouth™; Yfxfn hf,jnf yfl ¤Djqyjq<ins sg> b vbhjv<ins sg> ≥ ˜Work
was begun on War and Peace™; Ytcrjkmrj hfp jy lf;t wbnbhetn ¤<hfnmtd<acc=gen>
Rfhfvfpjds[≥ b ¤Blbjnf≥<acc=gen> Ljcnjtdcrjuj ˜Several times he even cites
The Brothers Karamazov and The Idiot of Dostoevsky™.

3.7.5 Names
With names of people, the gender is determined by reference. A name has fem-
inine syntactic gender if it is used in reference to a woman, masculine if used
in reference to a man. Whether a name is declined depends largely on how well
its phonological shape matches the declension appropriate to the referential
gender and how familiar the name is.

Native names: Most native Russian surnames have an adjectival suf¬x, and
distinguish masculine and feminine forms in the singular, and decline. Such
are: suf¬xed names in {-ov}: msc <jh«cjd, fem <jh«cjdf; suf¬xed names in
{-in}: msc G©irby, fem G©irbyf; suf¬xed names in {-sk-}: msc Gtnhj ´dcrbq, fem
´dcrfz, msc Rh©gcrbq, fem Rh©gcrfz. Names formed with the suf¬xes {-ov}
and {-in} have a declension mixed between adjectives and nouns. Those in {-sk-}
have a fully adjectival declension. Other names have a pure nominal declension:
nom sg Vfyltkmin’v, ins sg Vfyltkmin’vjv, gen pl Vfyltkmin’vjd, ins pl
Vfyltkmin’vfvb. Surnames that are frozen genitive case forms do not decline:
Xthyß[, :bd’uj.

Borrowed adjectival names: Names borrowed from other Slavic languages (Pol-
ish and Czech) that have an adjectival declension in the source language are
treated like Russian adjectival names and decline, including in the feminine:

[25] that is how Mickiewicz dubbed Maria
nfr yfpdfk Vbwrtdbx
Szymanowska; the life of Szymanowska;
Vfhb/ Ibvfyjdcre/;
with Szymanowska
,bjuhfabz Ibvfyjdcrjq; c
[26] vfnx 33-ktnytq Эdthn b a match of the 33-year-old Evert and the
31-ktnytq Yfdhfnbkjdjq 31-year-old Navratilova

These names decline regardless of how the nominative is spelled, whether ac-
cording to the Russian fashion (usual for the masculine, Kfgbwrbq ˜Lapicki™, pos-
sible for the feminine, Rfvbycrfz ˜Kami´ ska™) or the source language (possible
154 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Djqybwrb ˜Wojnicki™, usual Dsibycrf ˜Wyszy´ ska™).33 Note also nom sg Yttlks,
gen sg Yttlkjuj, from Czech Nejedl©, Nejedl†ho.

Foreign names ending in {-V}: Names of foreign origin that end in vowels other
than {-a} do not decline, whether in reference to males or females:
[27] the wonderful sketches of the Spanish
ghtrhfcyst hbceyrb bcgfycrjuj
artist Salvador Dali
[elj;ybrf Cfkmdfljhf Lfkb
[28] the murder of John Kennedy
e,bqcndj L;jyf Rtyytlb
[29] a ¬lm starring Brigitte Bardot
abkmv c exfcnbtv <hbl;bn <fhlj
[30] with the living Indira Gandhi
c ;bdjq Bylbhjq Ufylb

The prohibition covers surnames ending in {-ko} and {-(en)ko}. Names of this
type, though historically suf¬xed and historically of Slavic origin, generally do
not decline in literary Russian, whether in reference to men ([31--33]) or women
[31] the colony of A. S. Makarenko
rjkjybz F. C. Vfrfhtyrj
[32] the letter of Chod´ko
gbcmvj {jlpmrj
[33] for Gromyko
lkz Uhjvsrj
[34] the triumph, accomplished a year ago by
ljcnb;tybt, ecnfyjdktyyjt ujl
Larisa Savchenko and Svetlana
yfpfl Kfhbcjq Cfdxtyrj b
Cdtnkfyjq Gfh[jvtyrj

Still, informally these names can decline ([35--36]), especially in the plural ([37--
[35] Naumenko has the original in her ¬le.
E Yfevtyrb gjlkbyybr
[36] divorce from Shileiko
hfpdjl c Ibktqrjq
[37] Around the yard ran other little
Gj ldjhe ,tufkb b lheubt
vfktymrbt Rexthtyrb.
[38] in the same house with the Gorenkos
d jlyjv ljvt c Ujhtyrfvb

First names that end in {-o} decline according to Declension<Ia> , if the ¬nal
vowel is stressed, as in Gtnhj Gtnh’, Gtnh©, Gtnhj etc., though there is a
´, ´v,
tendency toward non-declension. In nouns like Lfy«kj, Vb[’qkj, the unstressed
¬nal vowel is pronounced as [™], the same as an unstressed {-a} in Declension<II> .
In standard Russian, these nouns decline according to Declension<II> ([39]):

[39] [he] didn™t see Mikhailo; from Mikhailo; to
Vb[fqke yt edbltk; jn
Mikhailo; with Mikhailo
Vb[fqks; r Vb[fqkt; c

33 Kalakutskaia 1970.
Inflectional morphology 155

Foreign names ending in {-C}: Names that end in consonants ¬t the expected
shape of Declension<Ia> , which contains only masculine nouns. In reference
to males (or mixed groups), such names, including foreign names, generally
[40] about the arrival of Hemingway
j ghbtplt {tvbyueэz
[41] portraits of Bu˜ uel
gjhnhtns </y/эkz
[42] an old expression of General De Gaulle
cnfhjt dshf;tybt utythfkf
lt Ujkkz
[43] similarly with Condaleezza Rice
hfdyj rfr b c Rjyljkbpjq
and the Bushes
Hfqc b c <eifvb

Included are stems which end in a palatalized consonant (lt Ujkkm) or [j]
({tvbyueэq). An exception is monosyllabic Korean names such as Gfr, Rbv, not
declined by a majority of speakers a quarter of a century ago.34
Names that end in a consonant do not have a feminine nominative singular
form and cannot decline when used in reference to females:
[44] the speech of M. Thatcher
htxm V. Nэnxth
[45] the death of George Sand
cvthnm :jh; Cfyl
[46] a year ago places in the ¬nals were
ujl yfpfl pf vtcnf d abyfkt
contested, as now, by Navratilova with Chris
,jhjkbcm, rfr b ctqxfc,
Yfdhfnbkjdf c Rhbc Эdthn, f Evert, and Graf with Pam Shriver.
Uhfa -- c Gfv Ihfqdth.

In reference to men, these names decline: ;tyf ujcgjlbyf Nэnxthf ˜Mr. Thatcher™s
The prohibition against declining women™s surnames ending in a consonant
holds also for names that have long been used in a Russian-language context.
There is no distinct nominative singular feminine form for Ubyp,ehu or Abuyth,
and these names do not decline in reference to women:
[47] the book of Evgeniia Ginzburg Into the
rybuf Tdutybb Ubyp,ehu
¤Rhenjq vfhihen≥.
[48] to Odessa to Vera Figner
d Jltcce r Dtht Abuyth

There is no feminine form, and hence no declension, of names made with the et-
ymologically Slavic suf¬xes {-ic‹} or {-uk} used in reference to women: Trfnthbyf
Ybrjkftdyf {fhrtdbx, j Pjt Ybrjkftdyjq Ufkbx, r Cjyt Ufyxer.

Foreign names ending in {-a}: Names ending in {-a} are complicated. Some
native roots and assimilated non-native roots are used as names, and they decline
in reference to males: gjhnhtn yb ,jktt yb vtytt rfr cfvjuj Zujls -- ukfdyjuj

34 Kim 1970.
156 A Reference Grammar of Russian

gfkfxf yfitq cnhfys ˜a portrait of no one less than Iagoda himself -- the main
hangman of our country™.
Names ending in {-a} borrowed from other Slavic languages and assimilated
names in {-a} decline in reference to men:

[49] a ¬lm of Wajda
abkmv Dfqls
[50] after Smetana
pf Cvtnfyjq
[51] about Jan Ziˇka
j Zyt :b;rt
[52] the interference of Beria; murder by Beria;
dvtifntkmcndj <thbb;
Zhukov arrested Beria
e,bqcndj <thbtq; <thb/
fhtcnjdfk :erjd
[53] the songs of Okudzhava
gtcyb Jrel;fds
[54] the story of Kudirkas; they called Kudirkas
bcnjhbz Relbhrb; Relbhre
in to see the head of the prison
gjpdfkb r yfxfkmybre

With less assimilated foreign surnames used in reference to males, there is
variation. Certainly many names decline:

[55] portraits of Lorca
gjhnhtns Kjhrb
[56] the government of Patrice Lumumba
ghfdbntkmcndj Gfnhbcf
[57] before the canvases of Goya
gthtl gjkjnyfvb Ujqb
[58] Kafka™s Trial
¤Ghjwtcc≥ Rfarb
[59] they shook the hand of Trueba; agreement
;fkb here Nheэ,s;
with Trueba
cjukfitybt c Nheэ,jq
[60] the work of Yoshimura; unknown to
hf,jnf Bjibvehs;
ytbpdtcnyj Bjibveht

but declension is not automatic for unfamilar names.

[61] in the works of Hidezumi Terazawa
d hf,jnf[ {bltwevb

Occasionally, there is variation for a given name, within one text:

[62] De Perregaux was freed before the end of
Lt-Gthhtue jcdj,jlbkb
his sentence.
[63] the hotel room of de Perregaux
yjvth Lt-Gthhtuf

Stress on the {-’} makes declension impossible, even in widely used nouns:

[64] The Three Musketeers of Dumas
¤Nhb veirtnthf≥ L/v’
[65] d bcreccndt Эlufhf Ltu’ in the art of Edgar Degas
[66] the creative work of Zola
ndjhxtcndj Pjkz´
[67] the daughter of M. I. Petipa
ljxm V.B. Gtnbg’
Inflectional morphology 157

The trend is evidently towards non-agreement. A work from the turn of the
previous century declined Lope de Vega ([68]) but contemporary speakers do

[68] in¬‚uence on Lope de Vega; activity of Lope
dkbzybt yf Kjgt lt Dtue;
de Vega; interest in Lope de Vega; written
ltzntkmyjcnm Kjgt lt Dtub;
about Lope de Vega
bynthtc r Kjgt lt Dtut;
yfgbcfyj j Kjgt lt Dtut

In reference to women, only highly assimilated names in {-a} decline ([69] vs.

[69] the life of L. N. Stolitsa
,bjuhfabz K.Y. Cnjkbws
[70] in the possession of Malva Landa; [they]
e Vfkmds Kfylf; Vfkmde
arrested Malva Landa again
Kfylf dyjdm fhtcnjdfkb
[71] in the creative work of M. Harma
d ndjhxtcndt V. {zhvf
[72] in place of Carlotta Brianca; to replace
dvtcnj Rfhkjnns <hbfywf;
Carlotta Brianca
pfvtybnm Rfhkjnne
{?<hbfywe ∼ <hbfywf}

The accusative was actually used in [72], from a memoir written by the paramour
of Nicholas I, but for modern speakers the accusative is only <hb’ywf for this
famous ballerina.
Russian is generous with respect to first names that refer to females, and
declines any noun whose nominative can be construed as ending in {-a} in

[73] Did not Pushkin write about Cleopatra?
F hfpdt Geirby yt gbcfk j
[74] with Indira Gandhi
c Bylbhjq Ufylb
[75] with Simone Signoret
c Cbvjyjq Cbymjht

Summaries of soap operas in the new Russian-American press decline the names
of heroines <trrf, Эhbrf, <tkbylf, Ahfyxtcrf, because the nominative ends
in {-a}, but they do not decline ¬rst names referring to women that end in
consonants or vowels other than {-a}: Hfrtkm, Jgfk, {эqkb.
The usage of surnames discussed above can be summarized in tabular form
(see Table 3.37).
Overall, names decline to the extent they are understood to ¬t the Russian
pattern of gender and declension. The different forms of gender need to line up:
it must be possible to assign the noun to a recognizable declension class (formal
gender), and the referential gender (male vs. female) must be appropriate for the
declension class. Names ending in vowels other than {-a} cannot decline at all,
158 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Table 3.37 Declension of surnames

referring to a man referring to a woman

Russian surnames yes yes
in {-in}, {-ov}
Slavic surnames in {-a} yes: Dfqlf, Ukbyrf, Dtxthrf yes: Yfdhfnbkjdf
assimilated surnames in {-a} yes: Jrel;fdf rarely yes: Cnjkbwf //
usually no: <hbfywf
assimilated surnames in {-C} yes: Ubyp,ehu no: [Tdutybz] Ubyp,ehu
Slavic surnames in yes: Ufkbx no: [Cjyz] Ufyxer
{-iˇ}, {-uk}
foreign surnames in {-C} yes: Htqufy, L;trcjy, no: [Rhbc] Эdthn
Эqyintqy, </y/эkm
foreign surnames in {-a} often yes: Bjibvehf, Ujqz, no: [Vbyf] {fhvf
Kjhrf // no: L/vf
Slavic surnames in {-o} no: Vfrfhtyrj but pl yes: no: [Kfhbcf] Cfdxtyrj
foreign surnames in {-V} no: Rtyytlb, Lfkb no: [Bylbhf] Ufylb, Ctymjht

because they ¬t no declension class; nouns ending in consonants cannot decline
in reference to women, there being no feminine gender nouns in Declension<Ia> .
Perhaps paradoxically, foreign names in {-a} often decline in reference to men,
but not in reference to women -- even though a noun in {-a} would seem to be
a perfect candidate for membership as a feminine of Declension<II> .

4.1 Argument phrases

4.1.1 Basics
Predications are made up of various constituents: predicates, arguments (subject,
direct object, domain, etc.), and arguments of time and circumstance.
The simplest and most familiar argument phrases are plain nouns or pro-
nouns, but argument phrases are not always so simple. Nouns can be combined
with modi¬ers -- adjectives, participles, relative clauses -- and result in phrases
which are more complex than a bare noun but which are nevertheless equivalent
to a noun. Nouns can have their own arguments -- possessors or arguments that
correspond to the arguments of predicates (subjects, objects, domains). Moreover,
argument phrases can be combined with quanti¬ers or prepositions to form
larger phrases, which in turn are equivalent to simpler argument phrases. Pro-
nouns, seemingly minimal units, occur in the sites of arguments where nouns
might occur. Part of the discussion below, then, concerns the internal structure
of argument phrases: how argument phrases are put together out of nouns and
other constituents.
Nouns and pronouns express case and number. Nouns belong to one or an-
other of three genders. Gender, an intrinsic property of lexical items, is dis-
cussed here in this chapter (§§4.1.3--6), as is number, an operation that modi¬es
the shape of nouns (§§4.1.7--9). Case is imposed on nominal elements by the syn-
tactic context -- by prepositions (§4.2) and by predicates (§5). The functions of
case are summarized schematically here (§4.1.10).

4.1.2 Reference of arguments
The r e f e r e n t i a l e x p o n e n t of argument phrases -- a noun or pronoun --
names or refers to entities, whether persons, places, concrete things, masses of
stuff, abstract essences, or happenings presented as entities.
Naming or referring to entities involves a number of processes at once, which
can be grouped into two levels. The ¬rst is quanti¬cation. At the minimum,
using a noun or pronoun establishes that there exists something worth talking

160 A Reference Grammar of Russian

about, and using a noun or pronoun names at least some minimal property.
In some instances, this rather minimal e x i s t e n t i a l q ua n t i f i c a t i o n is all
that using a noun accomplishes. For example,

[1] Dkflbvbh tve hfccrfpfk, xnj e ytuj tcnm vkflibq ,hfn.
Vladimir told him that he had a younger brother.

establishes the existence of an individual that ¬ts the formula of being a younger
brother.1 This kind of minimal reference will be termed e s s e n t i a l reference
below, motivated in that what is known or relevant is that an entity manifests
an essence (equivalently, belongs to a type), but little more is known about
the entity as an individual. Essential reference is not marked consistently by
any single device or referential exponent. Rather, it is a value, a sense, that
arises in certain contexts, especially in contexts such as existential sentences ([1]).
Additionally, essential reference is relevant to: the choice of relative pronoun, rnj ´
vs. rjnj´hsq (§4.4.5), re¬‚exive pronouns (§4.7), case choice with negated predicates
(§§5.3, 5.4), animate accusative with approximate quanti¬ers (§4.3.9), ordinary
numerals (ld’) vs. collectives (ldj (§4.3.8), possessive adjectives vs. genitives
Alternatively, a noun i n d i v i d ua t e s not only when it establishes that there
is an individual entity belonging to a type, but also when some properties of
the individual are known that differentiate it from other members of the class.

[2] Ntnz Cfif exbkf vtyz b vjb[ vkflib[ ctcnth.
Aunt Sasha taught me and my younger sisters.

In [2], the younger sisters are already known and differentiated from other sis-
ters of other speakers, and this predication adds an additional property that
holds of them (that they received instruction). The layer of quanti¬cation, then,
includes the distinction between essential vs. individuated reference. This layer
also includes number.
The second layer is contextual. To have knowledge about an individual, it is
relevant to know on what occasions that individual exists, whether in all times
and possibilities or only some. Thus reference has a temporal and modal side. It
is also relevant to know what speaker is responsible for identifying the entity.
And there is a textual side. Pronouns in particular indicate that an individual
is known outside of whatever is being said at the moment; there might well
be other properties that are already known about an individual. Pronouns tell

1 “Essential” reference derives from Donnellan™s (1966) “attributive” meaning of referring expres-
sions. As Donnellan observed, in Smith™s murderer must be insane, all we know about this individual
is that he ¬ts the formula ˜whosoever was responsible for the death of Smith™. On the notion of
de¬niteness as it applies to Russian, see Revzin 1973[b], Chvany 1983.
Arguments 161

the addressee how to ¬nd the source of information about the individual: the
personal pronoun z ˜I™ says the individual is the speaker, while an ordinary third-
person pronoun such as jy’ ˜she™ says the individual is a salient entity of the
feminine gender presumed to be known to the addressee (from the recent text,
from the shared knowledge of speaker and addressee). Thus the second layer of
reference is contextual. Pronouns in particular have the task of keeping track of
individuals on the contextual level.

4.1.3 Morphological categories of nouns: gender
Russian has three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. A given noun be-
longs to one and only one gender, and does not change its form and become
a noun of a different gender. The gender of a noun is revealed in agreement,
when an adjective adopts a different form depending on the noun it modi¬es.
Gender is further revealed in the past tense of verbs (when the noun happens
to be the subject) and in the gender of relative pronouns and third-person pro-
nouns. Gender in nouns is, then, a partition of the lexicon; it is a latent lexical
property that is revealed as s y n t ac t i c gender in adjectives and, additionally,
in verbs and pronouns.
Nouns are partitioned into declensional classes, or m o r p h o l o g i c a l gender,
which matches syntactic gender often but not always. Nouns in Declension<Ia> --
those with no ending in the nominative singular and {-a} in the genitive
singular -- are syntactically masculine; adjectives that modify such nouns and
past-tense verbs of which they are subjects adopt masculine form. Nouns in
Declension<Ib> -- those ending in a vowel in the nominative singular and {-a} in
the genitive singular -- are neuter. Declension<III> for all intents and purposes
is feminine; other than feminine nouns, it includes only one masculine noun
(g©nm ˜road™) and less than a dozen neuter nouns (those, like dh†vz ˜time™, end-
ing in -vz in the nominative singular). Nouns in Declension<II> are generally
feminine, with the signi¬cant exception of nouns that can refer to male human
beings (lz ˜uncle™, celmz ˜judge™, Cth=;f, Fk=if, <j ´hz). Overall, then, there is
´lz ´
a high degree of correspondence between morphological gender (or declension
class) and the syntactic gender of a noun (or agreement patterns in adjectives
and verbs).
For most nouns there is no motivation for gender in the real world. But with
nouns that refer to people or animals, gender is not just an arbitrary lexical
idiosyncrasy; the syntactic gender relates to the sex (or r e f e r e n t i a l gender)
of the entity. There is more than one possibility. Many nouns that de¬ne peo-
ple and animals as members of groups come in pairs related by derivation that
differ in gender: ex«ntkm/ex«ntkmybwf ˜teacher™, xtvgbj ´yrf ˜champion™,
cjc†l/cjc†lrf ˜neighbor™, gtycbjy†h/gtycbjy†hrf ˜pensioner™, dj ´kr/djkx«wf ˜wolf ™.
162 A Reference Grammar of Russian

In such pairs, both nouns are stylistically neutral. With other words, the
feminine has overtones of condescension to derogation: gjэn†ccf ˜(lady) poet™,
dhfx«[f ˜doctor™, rjhh†rnjhif ˜copy editor™, ,b,kbjn†rfhif ˜librarian™. The mas-
culine in [3] is grandiose, the feminine in [4] familiar.

[3] Kjwvfyjv ryb;yjuj vjhz yfpsdf/n ,b,kbjntrfhz Afbye F.
Pilot of the sea of books is what people call the librarian A. Faina.
[4] Gj lheue/ cnjhjye jrjirf cbltkf ,b,kbjntrfhif Dthf Bkmbybxyf.
On the other side of the window was sitting the librarian Vera Ilinichna.

Next, there are nouns for which masculine and feminine forms exist, but the
forms are not parallel because the feminine form refers to a different social sta-
tus (utyth’kmif ˜general™s wife™), or to occupations that differ markedly in social
status depending on the gender (ctrhtn’hif ˜secretary™, vfntvfn«xrf ˜student
of math™, frei†hrf ˜midwife™), or to occupations stereotypically associated with
women (ntktajy«cnrf ˜telephone operator™, lj«kmobwf ˜milkmaid™, vtlctcnh’
˜nurse™). Finally, some occupations are named by a single word form belonging
to Declension<Ia> : dh’x ˜doctor™, ghtpbl†yn ˜president™.
The use of paired nouns lacking strong stylistic overtones -- ex«ntkm/
ex«ntkmybwf ˜teacher™, gbc’ntkm/gbc’ntkmybwf ˜writer™ -- depends on context.2
Three contexts can be distinguished. The ¬rst context is that in which the in-
dividual members of the group are not distinguished, and sex is irrelevant or
indeterminate. The masculine form is used in reference to a potentially mixed
plural group ([5], [6]) or to any arbitrary single representative of a mixed or
indeterminate group ([7], [8]):

[5] E ghbitkmwtd ,skb cdtnkst jndjhjns vt[f yf itt, [fhfrnthyst lkz cntgys[
The new arrivals had light folds of fur, as is characteristic of steppe wolves.
[6] Jkmuf Ybrjkftdyf Vfckjdf, exbntkmybwf heccrjuj zpsrf, d vjtv rkfcct yt
ghtgjlfdfkf, yj tckb rnj-kb,j bp exbntktq pf,jktdfk, jyf tuj pfvtyzkf b
wtksq ehjr j xtv-nj hfccrfpsdfkf.
Olga Nikolaevna Maslova, teacher of the Russian language, did not actually teach
in my class, but if some or another of the teachers fell ill, she would replace him
and tell stories for the whole lesson.
[7] Nfkfynkbdsq exbntkm czltn c ltnmvb gjl lthtdj, b djpybrytn xelj.
A talented teacher can sit down with children under a tree, and a miracle will
[8] Jyf dctulf ujnjdf ,skf pfvtybnm pf,jktdituj exbntkz.
She was already ready to substitute for a teacher who had fallen ill.

2 Recently Mozdzierz 1999, Yokoyama 1999.
Arguments 163

The teaching staff of the gymnasium in [6] and [8] was de facto primarily women,
but the masculine form is used because the sense of ˜teacher™ is essential: it is
anyone who instantiated the essence of being a teacher. The fact that the mas-
culine noun can be used to refer to groups or tokens of classes that include
or might include females is one reason why masculine gender is said to be un-
marked -- that is, less narrowly de¬ned, since it does not insist that the referent
is male.
Second, when an individual woman is introduced into the discourse, the femi-
nine form characterizes her permanent identity. The masculine de¬nes a societal
role (in [9], she is ˜the person ful¬lling the role of supervisor™):

[9] Yf cfvjv ltkt Cjamz Dtybfvbyjdyf, utjuhfabxrf, yfi rkfccysq herjdjlbntkm.
As a matter of fact, So¬a Veniaminovna, a geographer, is our class supervisor.

And third, when these paired nouns refer to an individual whose identity is
already established, the feminine derivative is used ([10--11]):

[10] Exbntkmybwf gjcnfdbkf kfvge yf cnjk, xbhryekf cgbxrjq, pf;ukf cdtxre.
The teacher put a lamp on the table, struck a match, and lit a candle.
[11] Jy lfk vyt pfgbcre rkfccyjq herjdjlbntkmybws vjbv hjlbntkzv.
He gave me a note from the class supervisor to my parents.

Thus, when paired, stylistically neutral forms exist, the feminine derivative is
used when it is clear that one speci¬c woman is discussed as an individual.
When there is a noun in Declension<Ia> that names a profession and there is
no corresponding feminine derivative in Declension<II> (or no neutral form), the
sole masculine form is used in reference to women. For example, in the index
of a book on ballet, women are identi¬ed by feminine nouns when such ex-
ist, gbc’ntkmybwf ˜writer™, nfywj
´dobwf ˜dancer™, ex’cnybwf (h©ccrb[ ctpj ´yjd) ˜par-
ticipant (of the Russian troupes)™, cjk«cnrf ˜soloist™, gtd«wf ˜singer™, [elj
˜artist™. The women who are identi¬ed in this way have often served in other
roles, which are described by nouns of Declension<Ia> : as ht;bcc=h ˜director™,
´uhfa ˜choreographer™, gtlfuj ˜ballet teacher™, dbwtghtpbl†yn ˜vice presi-
[jhtj ´u
dent™, or ntjh†nbr n’ywf ˜theoretician of dance™.

4.1.4 Gender: unpaired ˜˜masculine” nouns
Historically, when nouns like dh’x were used in reference to women, they evoked
masculine agreement in both adjectives and predicates, but this has been chang-
ing. Using feminine agreement in the predicate in reference to a woman doctor
has become permissible and frequent (reported in 1976 as over 50% in the cohort
born between 1940--49):3
3 Kitaigorodskaia 1976; discussion in Rothstein 1971.
164 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Dhfx {htrjvtyljdfk<msc> ∼ htrjvtyljdfkf<fem> } juhfybxbnm gjkjde/ ;bpym.
The doctor recommended limiting sexual activity.

Feminine agreement is expected when a name marks the individual as female:

Dhfx J. ?. <tcgfkjdf nj;t {bcgeufkfcm<fem> / — bcgeufkcz<msc> }.
The doctor J. Iu. Bespalova was also alarmed.

Adjectives make the picture more complex. In the conservative norm, masculine
agreement is used in adjectives and predicates ([14](a)). In less conservative usage,
now tolerated as normative, the predicate has feminine agreement, adjectives --
masculine agreement ([14](b)).

[14] (a) oldest, formal
D rjvyfne djitk<msc> yjdsq<msc> dhfx.
(b) newer, informal, now standard
D rjvyfne djikf<fem> yjdsq<msc> dhfx.
(c) newest, not normative
D rjvyfne djikf<fem> yjdfz<fem> dhfx.
(d) systemically outlawed
D rjvyfne djitk<msc> yjdfz<fem> dhfx.
Into the room entered the new doctor.

As a very new option, the adjective may also adopt feminine agreement
([14](c)); though not normative, feminine agreement in (e yfc) [jhjifz<fem>
,e[ufkmnth<\msc> ˜(we have) a good bookkeeper™ was offered by 39 percent of
workers from the cohort of 1940--49.4 Feminine is possible only with descriptive
or deictic adjectives and only in the nominative, as in [15]:

<. . .> rfr htrjvtyljdfkf<fem> yfif<fem> k/,bvfz<fem> dhfx.
<. . .> as our beloved doctor recommended.

Adjectives such as hfqj
´yysq ˜regional™, ctv†qysq ˜family™, rj
´;ysq ˜skin™ that are
part of the de¬nition of the profession are masculine ([16]):

<. . .> rfr htrjvtyljdfkf<fem> cnfhibq<msc> dhfx cnfywbb ¤Crjhjq gjvjob≥
<. . .> as the senior doctor of Moscow emergency care recommended.

The fourth hypothetical possibility above ([14](d)), the combination of a fem-
inine adjective and masculine gender in the predicate, violates a general prin-
ciple governing agreement: the more closely bound the constituent, the more
agreement will be based on morphological gender; the less closely bound the
constituent, the more agreement will be based on referential gender.5 The prin-
ciple shows up further in relative clauses and the use of (third-person) pronouns,
which choose syntactic gender on the basis of the reference of the noun. For
example ([17]), in a discussion of Cj ´hmtdyf, who has the responsibility
´amz Uhbuj

4 5
Kitaigorodskaia 1976:152. Corbett 1979[b].
Arguments 165

of being hfqj´yysq<msc> cfybn’hysq<msc> dh’x, the predicate could use either
gender, but the pronouns rjnj´hfz and t= appear as feminine:

Jxtym [jhjij rj vyt {jnyjcbkfcm<fem> ∼ jnyjcbkcz<msc> } hfqjyysq
cfybnfhysq dhfx, {rjnjhfz<fem> ∼ — rjnjhsq<msc> } b pfxfcne/ vtyz rjhvbkf.
F z lkz {tt<fem> ∼ — tuj<msc> } ve;f ljcnfdfk d ,b,kbjntrf[ ye;yst lkz tuj
kbnthfnehys[ bccktljdfybq cdtltybz.
The regional sanitation of¬cer, who sometimes would feed me, treated me well.
And for her husband I used to get information from the library needed for his
literary studies.

4.1.5 Gender: common gender
There is another group of nouns that do not have distinct masculine and fem-
inine forms but can be used regularly in reference to either males or females.
It is the large, open-ended set of nouns of c o m m o n g e n d e r (epicenes), nouns
belonging to Declension<II> , often morphologically derived, that describe people
in terms of some prominent quality or behavior: gk’rcf ˜crybaby™, cjvy’v,ekf
˜sleepwalker™, dsgbdj ˜boozer™, ktdi’ ˜lefty™, cbhjn’ ˜orphan™. Adjectives and
verbs agree with the referential gender of the noun: masculine gender is used
in reference to a man ([18--19]), feminine in reference to a woman ([20--21]):6

[18] Vfnm d ltncndt ghbdzpsdfkf tuj r cneke --- jy ,sk cnhfiysq<msc> ytgjctlf, ---
xnj,s jy pfybvfkcz vepsrjq.
His mother used to tie him to a chair --- he was a terrible ¬dget --- so he would
practice his music.
[19] <tlysq<msc> cbhjnf vtxnfk<msc> cke;bnm dj ahfywepcrjv ktubjyt, xnj,s
regbnm ct,t ljv d Gjknfdt.
The poor orphan dreamed of serving in the French Foreign Legion, in order to
buy himself a home in Poltava.
[20] Tq e;t 8 vtczwtd. Jyf cnhfiyfz<fem> ytgjctlf b jxtym eks,xbdfz.
She™s eight months old. She™s a terrible ¬dget and loves to smile a lot.
[21] <tlyfz<fem> cbhjnf ljk;yf<fem> ,skf<fem> cfvf<fem> ct,t ghj,bdfnm ljhjue.
The poor orphan had to make her own way in the world.

4.1.6 Morphological categories of nouns: animacy
Nouns that refer to animate beings indicate the animacy of the referent by using
the genitive form in syntactic contexts that demand an accusative, whether as
the object of a verb ([22]) or the complement of a preposition ([23]):

6 It is said that when such a noun refers to a male, the adjective can have feminine agreement, and
the stylistic effect is strongly pejorative. In practice, this option is rarely invoked.
166 A Reference Grammar of Russian

[22] Vfnm vjz yfvyjuj gtht;bkf jnwf<acc=gen> .
My mother outlived my father by a lot.
[23] Vjq ,hfn Dkflbvbh ujhlbkcz, xnj ,sk gj[j; yf yfitujacc=gen> jnwf<acc=gen> .
My brother Vladimir was proud that he was similar to our father.

In the singular, use of this a n i m a t e ac c u s a t i v e or “acc=gen” is restricted to
nouns that satisfy two conditions.7 (a) Animacy is expressed only by nouns that
otherwise would merge nominative and accusative, hence not nouns like msc
´kz and msc celmz ˜judge™, which are masculine but belong to Declension<II>
Nj ´
and have distinct cases forms for the two cases: nom celmz = acc celm/
´ ´.

[24] Aen,jkmyjuj<msc acc=gen> celm/<acc=nom> bp,bkb d gjl(tplt cj,cndtyyjuj ljvf.
They killed the soccer judge at the entrance to his own building.

(b) Animacy is expressed only by nouns that condition masculine syntactic
gender, hence not by lj <\fem nom=acc> ˜daughter™, v’nm<\fem nom=acc> ˜mother™,
lbnz<\nt nom=acc> ˜child™, which do merge nominative and accusative but are not

Jyf exbkf {vfnm<nom=acc> ∼ — vfnthb<acc=gen> } cfgj;yjve htvtcke.
She taught mother shoemaking.
K/,bnm {lbnz<acc=nom> rhfcbdjt<nt acc=nom> , evyjt<nt acc=nom> ∼ — lbnznb<gen>
rhfcbdjuj<nt acc=gen> , evyjuj<nt acc=gen> } -- kturj.
To love a child [who is] beautiful, intelligent is easy.

Although the expression of animacy is restricted to masculine nouns in the
singular, all animate nouns in the plural express animacy, including feminine
and neuter animates:

Jy k/,bn cdjb[<acc=gen> vbks[<acc=gen> {,hfnmtd<acc=gen> ∼ ctcnth<acc=gen> ∼
ltntq<acc=gen> }.
He loves his nice {brothers ∼ sisters ∼ children}.

Adjectives express animacy in the singular if the modi¬ed noun is masculine
and animate: [23] y’ituj. In this way adjectives modifying masculine animate
nouns of Declension<II> express animacy, though the nouns themselves do not:
[24] aen,j´kmyjuj<msc acc=gen> celm/<\msc nom=acc> . Plural adjectives, which do not
in any event distinguish gender, express animacy if they modify an animate noun
of any gender: [27] cdj«[<pl acc=gen> v«ks[<pl acc=gen> . Adjectives also express
animacy when they are used without an explicit noun, as a predicative referring
to an object ([28]) or as a nominalized adjective ([29]):

7 Zalizniak 1964, Bondarko 1977, Corbett 1980, Klenin 1983.
Arguments 167

[28] Ve;xby<acc=gen> gjujyzkb ujkjlys[<acc=gen> .
The men were sent off hungry.
[29] Cfvs[<acc=gen> nheljk/,bds[<acc=gen> fhtcnjdsdfkb, ccskfkb c ctvmzvb.
They arrested and exiled the most hardworking [peasants] with their families.

Personal pronouns use the genitive form for the accusative: acc=gen vtyz
nt,z y’c, ct,z Third-person anaphoric pronouns use the animate accusative
´, ´.
even when they refer to inanimate entities:

[30] Kj;rf lj cb[ gjh e vtyz [hfybncz . . . B dct hfdyj z tt<acc=gen> [=kj;re] ,thtue.
I still have that spoon . . . And come what may I treasure it [lit., her].
[31] Lzlz Ktd yfxfk bpujnjdkznm ,evf;ybrb, cj,bhfzcm b[<acc=gen> [=,evf;ybrb]
vtyznm yf ghjlerns.
Uncle Lev began to make wallets, intending to exchange them for food.

For the most part, there is little variation in the expression of animacy. There
are only two areas in which there is variation: ¬rst, certain pronominal adjec-
tives modifying pronouns, and second, nouns that, in semantic terms, are not
unambiguously animate.
C’v ˜self ™ is one of the few adjectives that can be combined with anaphoric
pronouns. It adopts the genitive form when it modi¬es a masculine or neuter
singular (tuj<acc=gen> ) or plural pronoun («[<acc=gen> ), even when the referent
is inanimate ([32--33]):

[32] Kexibq genm bp;bnm cgtrekzwb/ ltabwbnjv --- kbrdblbhjdfnm tuj<acc=gen>
cfvjuj<acc=gen> [= ltabwbn].
In order to do away with speculation in a de¬cit, the best method is to liquidate
it itself [= de¬cit].
[33] Tcntcndtyyj, [jxtncz “gjoegfnm” b[<acc=gen> cfvb[<acc=gen> [= rdfhrb].
Naturally, one would like to “feel” them themselves [= quarks].

Modifying a feminine pronoun, even one with animate reference, c’v uses a
distinct accusative form, older cfvj= or contemporary cfv©:

[34] Cfve<acc> tt<acc=gen> fhtcnjdfnm yt gjcvtkb.
They didn™t dare arrest her herself.

A true genitive would be cfvj t= (cfvj t= y†n ˜she herself is not here™). Mod-
´q ´q
ifying a personal or re¬‚exive pronoun, c’v adopts the acc=gen form with a
masculine singular or plural referent: msc vtyz cfvjuj<acc=gen> ˜me myself ™,
´ ´
cfvjuj ct,z ˜himself™, pl y’c cfv«[ ˜us ourselves™, but fem vtyz cfv©<acc=gen>
´ ´ ´
jnd†hukb ˜they rejected me myself™.
When d†cm ˜all™ modi¬es a singular third-person masculine or neuter pronoun,
it adopts the acc=gen: dctuj tuj even if the referent is not animate. With
´ ´,
168 A Reference Grammar of Russian

a feminine referent (even an animate referent), it uses the distinct accusative
form dc/ ([35]):

[35] Z tt<acc=gen> dc/<acc=gen> [=gnbwe] hfccvjnhtk.
I examined her all [= the bird].

In the plural this combination expresses animacy: «[ dc†[ (dc†[ «[) is used for
animates, «[ dc† (dc† «[), rarely dc†[ «[, for inanimates:8

B {dct<nom=acc> b[<acc=gen> ∼ ?dct[<acc=gen> b[<acc=gen> } [=cjyfns] jy hfp,bhfk ---
rfr cnhjrb hbave/ncz, rjulf ye;ys hbavs ;tycrbt, rjulf ve;crbt.
And all these [=sonnets] he analyzed -- how the lines rhymed, when feminine
rhymes were necessary, when masculine.

There are some lexical questions of animacy. Some nouns have two different
senses, one animate, one inanimate, and such nouns use either acc=gen or
acc=nom, depending on which sense is intended. Jhbuby’k ˜original™ can be
an original thing (inanimate) or an eccentric person (animate). Xk†y ˜member™
is animate in reference to a human participant of an institution, inanimate in
reference to an inanimate part of a machine or structure. These are instances
in which there are sharp distinctions between two senses of one noun.
With some nouns usage is less rigid. Names of sea animals are likely to behave
as animate when they refer to the entities as animals in their habitat, kjd«nm
rh’,jd<acc=gen> ˜catch crabs™.9 As foodstuff, they may be inanimate or animate:10

Vs ljdjkmyj xfcnj tkb {rhf,s<acc=nom> ∼ rhf,jd<acc=gen> }.
We ate crabs rather often.

In the singular, they are animate (that is, merge accusative and genitive) even
as foodstuff:

[38] Z ;t jcnfkcz jlby yf [jpzqcndt. Cdfhbk b c(tk rhf,f<acc=gen> .
I had to deal with the housekeeping alone. I cooked and ate a crab.

There is variation in nouns whose motivation is historically ¬gurative. Names
of planets (?g«nth) are becoming inanimate. Names of playing cards and chess
¬gures are animate.
Some nouns that refer to classes of animate beings show variation in the use of
the acc=gen. Jcj ˜person™ and kbwj ˜person™ are animate in the plural. (They
´,f ´
are disquali¬ed in the singular because they do not belong to Declension<Ia> .)

8 Blazhev 1962.
On the web <19.X.02>: {kjdbk ∼kjdbkb ∼ kjdbnm} rhf,s 0xx, . . . rhf,jd 205xx.

On the web: {tk ∼ tkb ∼ tcnm} rhf,s 34xx, . . . rhf,jd 105xx.
Arguments 169

[39] Pfrjy gj ceotcnde kbibn kbw<acc=gen> lheub[ yfwbjyfkmyjcntq, gkj[j
dkflt/ob[<acc=gen> эcnjycrbv zpsrjv, djpvj;yjcnb frnbdyj exfcndjdfnm d
j,otcndtyyjq ;bpyb htcge,kbrb.
This law in essence will deprive people of other nationalities who speak Estonian
poorly of the possibility of participating actively in the public life of the republic.

(Kbwj also has the inanimate sense, ˜face, visage™.) Gthcjy’; ˜character™ is (usu-
ally) inanimate in the singular and (almost always) animate in the plural.11
Nominalized neuter adjectives that classify living beings -- ;bdj ´nyjt ˜animal™,
gfhyjrjgßnyjt ˜split-hoofed animal™, yfctrj ´vjt ˜insect™ -- generally do not use
the animate accusative in the singular ([40]) but do so in the plural ([41--42]):

{gjqvfnm ;bdjnyjt<acc=nom> ∼ gj[j;tt yf ;bdjnyjt<acc=nom> }
{to catch an animal ∼ similar to an animal}
{c gfcnm,s gthtdjlbnm ∼ rjhvbnm ∼ k/,bnm} ;bdjnys[<acc=gen>
{from pasture move ∼ feed ∼ love} animals
[42] Cj[hfyztv b hfpvyj;ftv gjktpys[<acc=gen> yfctrjvs[<acc=gen> .
We preserve and multiply useful insects.

Ceotcndj ˜creature, being™ is listed as variably animate or inanimate in the
Jyb gj[jlbkb yf {rfrbt-nj crfpjxyst ceotcndf<acc=nom> ∼ rfrb[-nj crfpjxys[
ceotcnd<acc=gen> }.
They were similar to some sort of fabulous beings.

The tendency is to extend animacy for such category nouns.12
Animacy fades out with lower orders of animals. A sampling is listed in
Table 4.1.13 In texts, the boundary between animate and inanimate is sharper
than Table 4.1 might suggest. Insects and small vermin (the ¬rst group) always
use the acc=gen:

[44] Dct[<acc=gen> rjpzdjr<acc=gen> , ,kjitr<acc=gen> , vjitr<acc=gen> b
vehfdmbitr<acc=gen> nfv evjhbkb.
[The birds] devastated all the gnats, ¬‚eas, midges, and ants there.

U©,rf ˜sponge™, listed as preferably animate, is used consistently with acc=gen in
technical literature, even in contexts in which sponges are mere passive objects
of investigation:

[45] Xfcnj ue,jr<acc=gen> c,kb;f/n c bcnbyysvb vyjujrktnjxysvb.
[They] often compare sponges to true multi-cell creatures.

11 12 Exempli¬cation and discussion in Itskovich 1980.
Pan¬lov 1966.
13 Based on Zalizniak 1977[a].
170 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Table 4.1 Animacy of lower-order animals

animacy nouns

animate u©ctybwf ˜caterpillar™, vtl©pf ˜jelly¬sh™, itkrjghz ˜bombyx™,
x†hdm ˜worm™, vjkk/cr ˜mollusk™, ;©r ˜beetle™, vehfd†q ˜ant™,
´drf ˜leech™
animate u©,rf ˜sponge™
(∼ ±inanimate)
inanimate kbx«yrf ˜larva™, ,frn†hbz ˜bacterium™, ,fw«kkf ˜bacillus™, vbrhj´,
(∼ ±animate) ˜microbe™
inanimate jhufy«pv ˜organism™, njrc«y ˜toxin™, rjh’kk ˜coral™, d«hec ˜virus™,
gkfyrnj ˜plankton™

In contrast, nouns of the third group in Table 4.1 use inanimate morphol-
ogy consistently in texts, whether as objects of investigation (jy lfdyj bpexftn
,fwbkks<acc=nom> ˜he has long studied bacilli™), as entities asserted to exist
(cjlth;fobq ,frnthbb<acc=nom> ˜containing bacteria™), or as patients of some
agent™s predatory activity ([46]):

[46] D yjhvt pfobnyst vt[fybpvs byfrnbdbhe/n nfrbt vbrhj,s<acc=nom> .
In the normal course of events, defense mechanisms render such microbes

Animacy is expressed only when the microbes are thought of as potential agents,
as in [47] (unique in a sample of two dozen examples from technical literature):

[47] Gjct/n d gbnfntkmye/ chtle vbrhj,jd<acc=gen> , jyb hfcnen, gjnjv b[ jn
gbnfntkmyjq chtls jnltkz/n.
[They] put the microbes into the medium, they grow, and then they are separated
from the medium.

One might entertain the thought that the animate accusative is a rule on
the level of syntax -- that the genitive case is assigned to the whole argument
phrase in place of the accusative case. Arguing against this interpretation are
several considerations: the modi¬er and the head in dct<nom=acc> b[<acc=gen>
and vjtuj<acc=gen> ltleire<acc=nom> ˜my grandfather™ differ in the expression
of animacy; animate accusative-genitives can be conjoined with unambiguous

[48] Dsrktdsdf/n jyb xthdtq<acc=gen> b kbxbyrb<acc=nom> .
They peck out worms and larvae.

On the assumption that case is uniform across all constituents and conjuncts
of an argument phrase, then animate accusatives must be syntactic accusatives.
Arguments 171

The animate accusative appears to be primarily a morphological phenomenon,
whereby the accusative of the relevant paradigms is made identical to the
genitive.14 This interpretation also ¬ts with the fact that the application of the
animate accusative depends on the speci¬c paradigm involved.

4.1.7 Morphological categories of nouns: number
Ordinarily, a singular form means a single entity from the class and the plural
form means two or more entities. The singular form can also be used in a
generic meaning. The only complications in number concern nouns that are
used in only one number and certain strategies for using number in ways that
do not transparently match the real-world reference.

4.1.8 Number: pluralia tantum, singularia tantum
There is a small set of nouns that can occur only in the plural, the p l u r a l i a
´;ybws ˜scissors™, infyß ˜trousers™, c©nrb ˜day™. Historically, these are
t a n t u m yj
entities composed of paired parts. Because these nouns are already plural, to
indicate more than one unit, it is necessary to use either collective numerals
(nhj c©njr ˜three days™) or a classi¬er: nh« g’hs hjl«ntktq ˜three sets of parents™,
y†crjkmrj g’h cfy†q ˜several sleighs™.
Nouns naming masses, by virtue of their meaning, are not likely to be used
in the plural. Still, a plural can be used to show that masses come in various
types (the “sortal” plural):

[49] Lkz rf;ljuj xtkjdtrf cjcnfdktys bylbdblefkmyst ,bj[bvbxtcrbt rfhns gj
dctv gfhfvtnhfv: cjnyb ,tkrjd<pl> , athvtynjd<pl> , ;bhjd<pl> b cf[fhjd<pl> .
For each person individual biochemical pro¬les are prepared along all
parameters: hundreds of proteins, enzymes, fats, and sugars.

Nouns naming abstract qualities or events, such as ghjbpdjl«ntkmyjcnm ˜produc-
tivity™ or dtkbrjl©ibt ˜magnanimity™, are naturally singular, but occur in the


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