. 8
( 17)


If a complex numeral ends in a singleton unit (˜one™, ˜thousand™), the unit
itself is dative; the remainder of the compound can be either oblique (genitive?)
or, in a more contemporary register, the direct case form:

[126] gj ldflwfnb<gen> jlyjve<dat> he,k/ [standard]
gj ldflwfnm<nom=acc> jlyjve<dat> he,k/
twenty-one rubles each

Other complex numerals now use the direct form (gj ldflwfnm<nom=acc>
gznm<nom=acc> he,ktq d ltym ˜twenty-¬ve rubles per day™), only rarely the genitive
(gj ldflwfnb<gen> gznb<gen> he,ktq). Mixed forms also occur (gj itcnbcjn<gen>
ltdzyjcnj<nom=acc> ctvb<gen> he,ktq ldflwfnb<gen> rjgttr d ujl ˜six hundred
ninety-seven rubles and twenty kopecks per year™).

4.3.12 Quantifier (numeral) cline
The properties of numeral quanti¬ers can be summarized in a matrix (almost a
cline) with numerals in columns, properties in rows.
Jl«y, an almost purely adjectival quanti¬er, is at one extreme. At the op-
posite extreme, the large (mille) units vbkkb’hl and vbkkbj behave almost
completely like nouns, nßczxf a little less so. Between these extremes are true
numerals. General numerals have generally similar properties that distinguish
them from either adjectives or nouns; they could qualify as a distinct part of
speech. If one invokes any sort of hierarchical constituent analysis that distin-
guishes between head and dependent, quanti¬ers in direct cases seem to be
the head of a special type of argument phrase, and the quanti¬ed noun the
dependent. But in oblique cases quanti¬ers act like modi¬ers of the nouns they
quantify. It is a bit of an anomaly that the constituency of some phrase should
depend on the case of the whole argument phrase.
Table 4.9 Numeral cline

decade ∼
single paucal digit; teen compound decade round hundred thousand million
jlby ldf/ldt, nhb gznm, ldfwfnm, cjhjr, cnj, ldtcnb nsczxf vbkkbjy
gznyflwfnm gznmltczn ltdzyjcnj
gen sg gen pl gen pl gen pl gen pl gen pl gen pl
case/number (nn) / case sg
nom=acc (qu)
nom=acc pl /fem gen pl gen pl gen pl gen pl gen pl gen pl
internal adjective / number-
gen pl /msc=nt
nom=acc (qu) case-gender
acc=gen (qu) /an nn yes/msc; yes no no no no no no
dat dat dat
case with gj acc ∼ — gen acc ∼ ?gen acc ∼ ?gen acc ∼ ?gen acc ∼ — gen
fem msc
gender-number (qu) number- null null null
gender (ldf/ldt) ∼ null
case-gender null
acc=gen (external adj.) / yes yes yes yes yes yes no no
an nn
qu countable? no no no no no no yes yes
gen pl gen pl
case sg case pl case pl case pl case pl case pl
case (nn) / dat ∼ loc ∼
ins (qu) (/gen pl)
inversion possible yes yes yes yes yes yes unusual no
number of case 3 / fem sg 4 3 3 2 4 5 5
distinctions (qu) 5 / msc=nt;
compound morphology no no no no yes no no
no ∼ yes
Arguments 205

4.4 Internal arguments and modifiers

4.4.1 General
Nouns by themselves can function as arguments, but nouns can also form larger
phrases by combining with dependent constituents, either arguments or modi-
¬ers (adjectives, participles, relative clauses).

4.4.2 Possessors
Most nouns can be possessed. Possessors that are nouns are expressed in the
genitive, and are placed after the possessed noun (twice in [127]). Possessors that
are ¬rst-person, second-person, or re¬‚exive pronouns are expressed as possessive
adjectives vj ∼ y’i, ndj ∼ d’i, cdj Possessive adjectives usually come before
´q ´q ´q.
the possessed noun ([128]). As a stylistic variant, they can occur after the noun
to remind the addressee of a known relationship of possession ([129]). The third-
person forms «[, t=, tuj are historically genitive-case forms. In synchronic terms,
they are used in the same way as the possessive adjectives ([128--29]). Accordingly,
it is reasonable to refer to them now as possessives, though they do not in¬‚ect
like vj or ndj
´q ´q.

[127] Yf cfqnt hfcgjkj;tys ntrcns gtcty<gen> hfpys[ bcgjkybntkmytq b uhegg<gen> .
On the site are made available texts of songs of various performers and groups.
[128] Yf cfqnt hfcgjkj;tys ntrcns {vjb[ ∼ b[ ∼ tt ∼ dfib[} gtcty.
On the site are made available texts of {my ∼ their ∼ her ∼ your} songs.
[129] Ntrcns gtcty {vjb[ ∼ tt} dgjkyt vjuen cjqnb b pf cnb[b.
The texts of those songs of {mine ∼ hers} could easily count as poems.

First- and second-person possessive adjectives can be expanded with comita-
tive phrases, and interpreted the same way as ¬rst- and second-person argument
pronouns. Thus r yfitve c Rjycnfynbyjv leэne ˜to my and Constantine™s duet™
contains the possessive corresponding to vs c Rjycnfynbyjv, and both can be
interpreted as a dual, the speaker and Constantine. (Such phrases can also be
interpreted as plurals: dybvfybt!!!! yfitve c dfvb cfqne chjxyj nht,etncz web-
lbpfqyth ˜attention!!!! your and our site urgently needs a web-designer™.) Genitive
possessors can sometimes be conjoined with, or placed in apposition to, posses-
sive adjectives ([130--31]), demonstrating that genitives of nouns and possessive
forms of pronouns have analogous functions.40

[130] Jy yt pfybvfkcz yfibv (vjbv<pss> b ,hfnf<gen> ) djcgbnfybtv
He did not concern himself in a systematic fashion with our (mine and my
brother™s) upbringing.

40 Note also: pf yfibv b lzlb Cfibysv akbutkzvb ˜behind our and Uncle Sasha™s wings™, where
the genitive lzlb is associated with the base noun of the adjective Cfiby.
206 A Reference Grammar of Russian

[131] <. . .> csyf Cfie -- yfituj<pss> , njulf tot vjkjls[ gbcfntktq<gen> , njdfhbof
<. . .> of his son Sasha -- the comrade of us, then still young, writers

As has long been observed, possession should be understood very broadly, to
mean not only the relationship of, for example, a person to a pencil, but all
manner of relations of association between two entities, in which one entity --
the possessed entity -- is de¬ned in terms of another -- the possessor. Posses-
sion can mean ownership, relationship (of kinship), synecdoche, and so on.
Many nouns -- e v e n t nouns -- are related to verbs and take arguments like
verbs. One argument, which may correspond to the subject or to the object, is
genitive or possessive, and so is a possessor in an extended sense of the term:
ghbcgjcj,k†ybt jhufy«pvf ˜the adaptation of the organism™. Paradoxically, it is
the possessed item that has the privilege of functioning as the argument phrase
of the predicate, and the possessor is presented as ancillary.

4.4.3 Possessive adjectives of unique nouns
A very old option for expressing possession for nouns that specify unique peo-
ple -- ¬rst names or nouns identifying familial roles -- is possessive adjectives
formed by adding a suf¬x to the noun.41 These adjectives have a “mixed” de-
clension (§3.5.3). Nouns that belong to Declension<Ia> once could use the suf¬x
{-ov}, such as jnwj ˜father™s™, but this formation is little used in contemporary
Russian; to express possession with such nouns, the genitive case is now used.
Nouns belonging to Declension<II> , masculine as well as feminine, use the suf-
¬x {-in}. These possessive adjectives have a domestic, intimate ring to them,
and are freely used in speech and in certain written genres, for example, mem-
oirs: ,f,eirbyf<pss> ctcnhf ˜grandma™s sister™, dwtgbkfcm d Vfibye<pss> here ˜she
latched onto Masha™s hand™, Rfnby<pss> xtvjlfy ˜Katia™s suitcase™. The difference
between a genitive and a possessive adjective, then, is in part a stylistic difference
of formal as opposed to domestic.
In addition, a possessive adjective presumes or imputes some connection be-
tween the possessor and thing possessed that is characteristic and previously
known, as in ,f,eirbyf<pss> hs,f ˜grandma™s ¬sh [¬sh the way grandma pre-
pared it]™. With event nominals, a possessive adjective suggests that the event is
already known and viewed as characteristic of the possessor ([132--33]):

[132] Djn jn эnjuj b ikj Iehrbyj<pss> jndhfotybt r ghjatccbb.
And that is where Shurka™s revulsion to the profession came from.
[133] Ghb Vbnbyjv<pss> fhtcnt e ytuj yt dpzkb pfgbcye/ ryb;re cj dctvb
ntktajyfvb b flhtcfvb lheptq.
At Mitia™s arrest they did not take from him his notebook with all the telephone
numbers and addresses of friends.

41 Comments in Corbett 1987, with extensive bibliography.
Arguments 207

In contrast, the genitive, which is more formal, less intimate, de¬nes the essence
of something in relation to its possessor, such as the painting and its painter in
[134] or an event and its agent in [135]; the addressee has no prior knowledge of
the possessor and possessed item:

[134] Cj[hfybkfcm frdfhtkm ,f,eirb<gen> .
There is preserved [that which could be de¬ned as] a watercolor painting of
[135] :lfkb djpdhfotybz gfgs<gen> .
We were waiting for [the event that would amount to] the return of Papa.

4.4.4 Agreement of adjectives and participles
Modi¬ers -- adjectives, participles, demonstratives, possessive adjectives -- com-
bine with nouns to form more complex argument phrases.42 Modi¬ers re-
¬‚ect the gender--number and case of the noun with which they combine: in
dj dctq<fem loc sg> эnjq<fem loc sg> yfxbyf/otqcz<fem loc sg> vbhjdjq<fem loc sg>
djqyt<\fem loc sg> ˜in all this beginning world war™, all four modi¬ers are loca-
tive feminine singular, in agreement with djqy†.
Agreement (or concord) within argument phrases is largely unproblematic in
Russian. Complications arise only with conjoined nouns or multiple adjectives.
Multiple adjectives modifying a single plural noun will ordinarily be plural,
unless there are distinct individuals or distinct types of individuals, each de¬ned
by a different adjective. In [136], both of the hands are ours (hence plural y’ib)
but the two hands are distinct:

[136] D pthrfkt yfib<pl> ghfdfz<fem sg> b ktdfz<fem sg> herb<\fem gjvtyz/ncz
In a mirror our right and left hands change places.

Mass nouns avoid being used in the plural ([137--38]), even when there is plural
agreement in adjectives or verbs applying to the distinct sorts ([138]):

[137] heccrfz<fem sg> rhfcyfz<fem sg> b xthyfz<fem sg> brhf<\fem sg> ,
cthdbhjdfyyfz<fem sg> cj cvtnfyjq
Russian red and black caviar, served with sour cream
[138] Ghtlkfuf/ncz<pl> dscjrjrfxtcndtyyst<pl> rhfcyfz<fem sg> b xthyfz<fem sg>
brhf<\fem sg> c Lfkmytuj Djcnjrf.
There is offered high-quality red and black caviar from the Far East.

In argument phrases that include conjoined nouns, modi¬ers are plural if one
of the nouns is plural. If the nouns are singular and a modi¬er is understood to
modify only one of those nouns, the modi¬er is singular and expresses the

42 Crockett 1976, Corbett 1983[b].
208 A Reference Grammar of Russian

gender of the noun it modi¬es: yfif<fem> cnhfyf<\fem> b jcnfkmyjq<msc>
vbh<\msc> ˜our country and the remaining world™.
Complications arise with singular nouns modi¬ed by adjectives that are un-
derstood to apply to both nouns. In principle, the modi¬er can be either singular,
re¬‚ecting the gender of the nearest noun, or plural: j {,jkmyjv<msc sg loc> ∼
,jkmys[<pl loc> } csyt<\msc sg loc> b ljxthb<\fem sg loc> ˜about the ailing son and
daughter™. In the colloquial register, plural agreement is not usual. In written
Russian, either singular or plural occurs.
The overriding condition is the sense of the nouns in context. Plural means the
entities are understood as independent and parallel individuals, each of which
can be evaluated separately as having the property. In [139], the speaker does
not resemble either of two individuals, her brother or, separately, her sister.
[139] Z yt gj[j;f yf cdjb[<pl> ,hfnf b ctcnhe.
I am not similar to my brother and sister.

In [141], two distinct well-known individuals were present:
[140] Chtlb uheggs jrfpfkbcm yfib<pl> F,le;fgfhjd b Ntnth/r.
Among the group were our Abduzhaparov and Teteriuk.

Singular, in contrast, is appropriate if the entities to which the nouns refer
are not conceptualized as distinct individuals, in any of a number of ways. The
two nouns may be synonymous: jcj,jt<nt sg> pyfxtybt<\nt sg> b cvsck<\msc sg>
˜special meaning and sense™. They may be speci¬c instances of a higher-order
category; for example, in cnhernehf cjdtncrjuj<msc sg> эrcgjhnf<\msc sg> b
bvgjhnf<\msc sg> ˜the structure of Soviet export and import™, both entities are
types of trade; and in (yfikb) ctht,hzyye/<fem sg> kj;re<\fem sg> b dbkre<\fem sg>
˜(we found) a silver spoon and fork™, both entities are utensils. Or the two together
form a unit. In [141], the addressee failed by not thinking about the family as a
[141] Ns yt gjlevfk ghj cdjtuj<sg> ,hfnf b ctcnhe, ntv ,jktt ghj ,f,eire.
You didn™t think about your brother and sister, and worse, about your

The connective b is likely to condition plural agreement. The folkloric connec-
tive lf is asymmetric, and the properties of the ¬rst element generally dominate.
The disjunctive connective bkb generally takes singular agreement.

4.4.5 Relative clauses
Relative pronouns make it possible to present a predication as a modi¬er of
a noun and still remain ¬nite.43 The head of a relative clause -- the noun or
43 Comrie 1986[c].
Arguments 209

pronoun that is modi¬ed -- is explicit in Russian; Russian does not have “headless
relatives.” Most interrogative pronouns can function as relatives. By far the most
widely used pronoun is rjnj ´hsq ˜which™, and it is used for persons as well as for
[142] Ckeifqnt, z dxthf ¤Dhtvtxrj≥ cvjnhtkf, nfv djghjcs ,skb, ye, rjnjhst
lf/ncz, ns pdjybim gj ntktajye, rjnjhsq lftncz, b nfv dsotkrbdftncz
rjkbxtcndj k/ltq, rjnjhst pdjybkb.
Listen, yesterday I was watching “Time,” they had questions, which, well, were
given, you call the number, which is given, and there they click off the number of
people who have called.

As a relative, rjnj ´hsq has no trace of the restriction to a delimited set that is
characteristic of its use as an interrogative. Russian does not distinguish between
restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses, whether by the choice of pronoun
or intonation or punctuation.
Rnj ˜who™ can be used as a relative under special conditions. Rnj de¬nes mem-
´ ´
bership in a set of possible individuals. Rnj ¬ts when the head is the demonstra-
tive nj (or plural n†) without a noun. The intended referents must be human
and, as a rule, include males (exceptionally, [145]). Agreement with rnj is mas-
culine singular if the relative proposition is true of each individual separately
([143]), but plural is possible for group activities ([144]):

[143] Hfccnhtkzkb dct[ nt[, rnj pyfk<msc sg> j pfujdjht, yj yt ljytc<msc sg> .
They shot all those who knew about the conspiracy but did not report it.
[144] F nt, rnj cnjzkb<pl> cpflb, jrfpfkbcm d cfvjv dsujlyjv gjkj;tybb.
And those who were standing at the back turned out to have the best position.
[145] Bp dct[ nt[, rjuj tve ghjxbkb d ytdtcns, jy tt cxbnfk yf,jktt gjl[jlzotq.
Of all those whom they were proposing to him as a bride, he thought she was the
most suitable.

The construction nj rnj . . . de¬nes an implicit condition: if a person has such
´n, ´
and such a property (the rnj clause), then here is what can be said about such
a person (the nj clause). The condition then becomes a prescription for how to
treat a person who acts in a certain way. And, in fact, the nj rnj . . . construction
´n, ´
was a formula in medieval legal language, when the de¬ning property (rnj ´)
was put at the front of the clause and separated from the consequence (nj ´n).
A memorable modern token is Lenin™s phrase: rnj yt c yfvb, njn ghjnbd yfc
˜whosoever is not with us, that one is against us™.
The construction n†, rnj contrasts with n†, rjnj ´hst, which occurs as well.
N†, rnj refers to possible individuals (in [146], any possible individual who
might have knowledge of the affair), while n†, rjnj ´hst refers to real individuals
(in [146], the actual culprits):
210 A Reference Grammar of Russian

[146] Jy yt [jntk dcnhtxfnmcz yt njkmrj c ntvb, rjnjhst ghbybvfkb exfcnbt d
e,bqcndt Hfcgenbyf, yj b c ntvb, rnj yfgjvbyfk tuj j ghjbcitlitv.
He avoided meeting not only those who had taken part in the murder of
Rasputin, but even those who might remind him of what had happened.

Thus using rnj as a relative requires a concept of a set and a process of de¬ning
the membership in a set. The requisite set can be established by any quantifying
adjective -- dc† ˜all™, r’;lsq ˜each™, y†rjnjhst ˜several™, ybrnj ˜no one™:

[147] Jgbie ytrjnjhs[, rjuj pfgjvybk.
I™ll describe some whom I remember.
[148] Z yt dbltkf ybrjuj djrheu ct,z, r rjve z vjukf ,s j,hfnbnmcz.
I didn™t see anyone around to whom I could turn.

Rnj can also be used with demonstratives and overt head nouns if the nouns
have general reference ([149]). In the exceptional case, a simple noun without a
demonstrative can be the head, if something evokes a set (in [150], d xbck†):

[149] Ubnkth ljujdjhbkcz cj Cnfkbysv, xnj dct nt nfvjiybt ;bntkb, e rjuj d ;bkf[
ntxtn ytvtwrfz rhjdm, vjuen et[fnm d Uthvfyb/.
Hitler made an agreement with Stalin that all of the local residents who had any
German blood could leave for Germany.
[150] D xbckt ujcntq, rnj r yfv gjcnjzyyj tplbk, ,skb nhb ,hfnf Hftdcrb[.
Among the guests who came to us regularly were the three Raevsky brothers.

Inanimate xnj ˜what™ can be used as a relative under certain conditions. It
can be attached to the demonstrative nj or other pronouns such as dc= and
then used in any case.

[151] Vj;tn ,snm, nj, j xtv ctqxfc ,ele hfccrfpsdfnm, ghjbc[jlbkj lj fhtcnf.
Possibly what I™m just to tell about happened before my arrest.
[152] Ds[jl yf cwtye ,sk jceotcndktybtv dctuj, xnj lhtvfkj dj vyt.
Going on stage was the realization of everything that lay dormant in me.

In the colloquial register, xnj can be attached to a noun if it is used in the
direct case form -- nominative (animate or inanimate) or accusative (but then
only inanimate). If it is the subject, the verb agrees with the gender--number
features of the head (in [153], r’hnf ˜map™):

[153] Vs bpexfkb rfhne<\fem> hfqjyf, xnj kt;fkf<fem> gthtl yfvb yf cnjkt.
We studied a map of the region, which lay before us on the table.

Adverbial pronouns ul† ˜where™, rel’ ˜to what place™, rjul’ ˜when™, r’r ˜how™
can be used as relative pronouns when they are attached to appropriate sites --
to demonstrative pronouns such as n’v ˜there™, nel’ ˜to that place™, njul’ ˜then™,
n’r ˜thus™ or simply to nouns with the meaning of location, time, or manner.
Arguments 211

[154] <skj xtnsht bycnfywbb, relf gjkfufkjcm gjlfdfnm pfzdktybz.
There were four levels to which one could make application.

Rfrj an adjective, can be used if the matrix context focuses on the properties
of the entity, as do nfrj ˜that kind™ ([155]), the quanti¬er cnj´km ˜to such an
extent™ ([156]), or a superlative adjective ([157]):

[155] Veybwbgfkmyfz cbcntvf jcnfkfcm nfrjq, rfrjq djpybrkf dj dhtvtyf Dtkbrjq
ahfywepcrjq htdjk/wbb.
The municipal system has remained such as it was when it arose during the era
of the French Revolution.
[156] <. . .> cnjkm ;t эythubxyjq lfvt, rfrjq ,skf jyf cfvf.
<. . .> to a woman just as energetic as she was herself
[157] <. . .> jlby bp cfvs[ xtcnytqib[ k/ltq, rfrb[ z pyfk
<. . .> one of the most honest people such as I have ever known

As a relativizer, the possessive x†q is bookish.

[158] <fdsrbys lhe;bkb c ctvtqcndjv Njvktyjds[, xtq jntw cke;bk
;tktpyjljhj;ybrjv dvtcnt c Vb[fbkjv Dfcbkmtdbxtv.
The Bavykins were on friendly terms with the Tomlenov family, whose father
worked on the railroad along with Mikhail Vasilevich.

X†q suggests an intrinsic connection between the possessor and its possessed
object; for example, in [158], there is a presumption that each family unit
would have its own head. Rj is archaic (d htcnjhfy, [jpzqrjq rjtuj zdbkfcm
yfif cjctlrf ˜into a restaurant, the proprietor of which turned out to be our
A favorite concern of linguistic investigations of the past few decades has been
to determine constraints on which arguments are accessible to relativization.
Russian allows relativization of all argument positions within ¬nite clauses --
subjects, objects, possessors, adverbial arguments. It can relativize object ar-
guments of non-¬nite verbs -- of in¬nitives ([159]) or of adverbial participles

[159] Pltcm vs cnfkrbdftvcz c nfrbvb njyrjcnzvb, dszdbnm b gjyznm rjnjhst cevtkf
kbim cnjkm vjoyfz jnhfckm cjdhtvtyyjq yferb, rfr rdfynjdfz ntjhbz.
Here we run up against subtleties, to make explicit and understand which only
such a powerful branch of contemporary science as quantum theory has managed.
[160] <. . .> c ibhjrbv kbwjv, dcnhtnbd rjnjhjt lf;t ult-yb,elm d Fdcnhfkbb bkb
Yjdjq Ptkfylbb vj;yj ,tp jgfcrb pfujdfhbdfnm gj-heccrb.
<. . .> with a broad face, on meeting which even anywhere in Australia or New
Zealand one can without hesitation address in Russian.
212 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Relativizing to a site in a ¬nite clause, marked “º,” is possible (though not fre-
quent) provided the intervening syntax is relatively transparent:44

[161] Ryzpm gj ghbdsxrt ujdjhbk dtob, rjnjhsv jy b yt [jntk, xnj,s dthbkb º.
The prince by habit said things that he did not even expect people to believe.
[162] E vtyz tcnm rybuf, rjnjhe/ z [jxe, xnj,s ns ghjxkf º.
I have a book that I would like for you to read.
[163] ? E vtyz tcnm rybuf, rjnjhe/ z lthpf/ yfltznmcz, xnj ns ghjxntim º.
I have a book that I dare to hope you might read.

Such sentences are rare in texts, Tolstoy™s [161] notwithstanding.

4.4.6 Participles
Active participles, unlike adjectives and passive participles, do not form short
forms; they are rarely used with copular predicates (§5.2.1). Some active partici-
ples can be used as nouns, in reference to people ([164]) or events ([165]):

[164] Nfre/ ,evf;re gjlgbcsdfk rf;lsq gjcnegf/obq yf cnhjbntkmcndj.
Such a document was signed by every [person] beginning work at the
construction site.
[165] D cnjkbwt yt pyfkb j cjdthibditvcz.
In the capital, they did not know about what had occurred.

Active participles are used freely as attributive modi¬ers. Used attributively, a
participle agrees in gender--number and case with the noun it modi¬es, which
is interpreted as the subject of the participle. Participles, like verbs, have argu-
ments. Participles are in general a bookish construction. (On tense and aspect in
participles, see §6.3.5.) Attributive participles can be preposed to the noun, and
integrated prosodically with other modi¬ers, ;bdie/ nfv ljxm ˜his living-there
daughter™, or they can be postposed, separated in writing by a comma and in
speech by an intonation break, jnwf, ghj[jlbdituj rjvbccbb ˜father, who was
going through review boards™.
Participles, like relative clauses, convert what could be independent predica-
tions into attributes of nouns. Aside from the obvious fact that a participle can
only be used if the head noun would be the subject of the participle, it is an
elusive (and still not investigated) question when participles as opposed to rela-
tive clauses are used. A relative clause with rjnj ´hsq can be used either to de¬ne
an individual in essential terms (in [166], ˜whatsoever family used to live there™)
or to add new information about a known individual ([167]):

44 Zalizniak and Paducheva 1979 ([161] -- from Tolstoy, [162]), also Comrie 1980[b]:105. R uˇiˇka
1988:409 terms the awkwardness of such relatives “a problem of performance.”
Arguments 213

[166] Z cghjcbk tt, gjvybn kb jyf ne ctvm/, rjnjhfz rjulf-nj ;bkf nen d ntxtybt
nht[ ktn. Jyf jnhbwfntkmyj gjrfxfkf ujkjdjq.
I asked her if she remembered that family which at one point had lived there for
a period of three years. She shook her head no.
[167] Z yt vjue yt dcgjvybnm c uke,jrjq ,kfujlfhyjcnm/ Fyye Rfqpth, rjnjhfz
cnfhfkfcm jrfpsdfnm vyt dczxtcre/ gjllth;re.
I cannot fail to remember with deep gratitude Anna Kaiser, who tried to help me
in all possible ways.

Relative clauses, then, state what properties individuals have, but it is not an
issue whether the individual is known or de¬ned on the spot.
Participles, in contrast, focus on the way the entity is relevant; they present
the individual in some capacity, qua a certain property. In [168], the participle
not only de¬nes individuals but it explains what makes the friendship possible;
the subject knew them qua housemates.

[168] Z gjlhe;bkcz cj cneltynfvb, ;bdibvb d yfitq rdfhnbht.
I became friends with the students living in our apartment.

In [169], the memory does not concern all properties of Sophia Loren,
but concerns Sophia Loren speci¬cally qua her descent down a staircase in

[169] Dcgjvbyftncz vjkjlfz Cjabz Kjhty, cgecrf/ofzcz gj pyfvtybnjq ktcnybwt
Ldjhwf atcnbdfktq d jcktgbntkmyjv nefktnt c vfccbdysv rjkmt bp
,hbkkbfynjd b bpevheljd yf itt b nfrbvb ;t cthmufvb d eif[.
What also comes to mind was the young Sophia Loren, descending the famous
staircase of the Palace of the Festival in a blinding out¬t with an enormous
necklace of diamonds and emeralds and corresponding earrings.

A relative clause in [169] would not tie this descent to the act of memory.
Both participles and relative clauses are at home in written language. Spo-
ken language rarely uses participles, sometimes uses relative clauses ([142]), but
is most likely to string together clauses paratactically ([170]) when the written
language would call for a relative clause or participle ([171]):

[170] B jn Ybrbncrjuj / ljt[fkb lj Zkns yf fdnj,ect // Ye nfv gjpfdnhfrfkb / b ctkb
yf fdnj,ec ,f[xbcfhfqcrbq // Jy bltn lj <f[xbcfhfz
From Nikitskoe / we went to Yalta on the bus // Well and had breakfast there / and
got on the Bakhchisarai bus // It goes to Bakhchisarai
[171] <. . .> ctkb yf fdnj,ec, {bleobq ∼ rjnjhsq bltn} lj <f[xbcfhfz.
<. . .> we got on a bus headed for Bakhchisarai.
214 A Reference Grammar of Russian

4.4.7 Comparatives
Comparison of adjectives is expressed by synthetic comparatives (z ´hxt ˜brighter™,
ljcn©gytt ˜more accessible™) or analytic comparatives (,j ´ktt ljcn©gyj ˜more ac-
cessible™). To a large extent the two forms of comparatives are used in comple-
mentary contexts.
Analytic comparatives occur if the adjective is attributive and describes a
known individual ([172]). The analytic form is virtually required in oblique cases

[172] Ghjytccz cke[, xnj jyf exbn b[ nfywtdfnm yt njkmrj ajrcnhjn, yj tot ,jktt
hfpdhfnysq xfhkmcnjy.
A rumor started that she was teaching them to dance not only the foxtrot, but
the even more degenerate Charleston.
[173] Gjknjhf ujlf cgecnz z cnjzk d jxthtlb tot ,jktt lkbyyjq.
A year and a half later I had occasion to stand in an even longer line.

The synthetic form can be a predicate ([174]) or a predicative adjective ([175--76]):

[174] Cgjrjqytt ,skj yf ,thtue Xthyjuj vjhz.
It was more peaceful on the shore of the Black Sea.
[175] Dctdjkjl {,sk ∼ rfpfkcz ∼ jrfpfkcz} evytt yfc dct[.
Vsevolod {was ∼ seemed ∼ turned out to be} smarter than us all.
[176] Tuj cxbnfkb evytt yfc dct[.
[They] thought him smarter than us all.

Postposed, the synthetic form de¬nes a type of individual (essential reference):

[177] Z gjghjcbk tuj ghbytcnb vyt lheue/ --- gjnjkot, gjcthmtpytt b gjbynthtcytt.
Then I asked him to bring me another one [book], [one that would ¬t the
de¬nition of being] thicker, more serious, and more interesting.

In the function of adverbs, the synthetic form is used for irregular comparatives:

[178] Vs yfxfkb ,ehbnm uke,;t, lj cnf vtnhjd.
We began to drill deeper, up to a hundred meters.

With other lexemes, both forms are possible:

[179] Gjcntgtyyj vjb hjlbntkb yfxfkb dct ,jktt ,kfujcrkjyyj jnyjcbnmcz r
Gradually my parents began to treat Claudia ever more graciously.
[180] Vfif cnfkf jnyjcbnmcz r ytve ,kfujcrkjyytt b dj dhtvz jxthtlyjq ghjuekrb
lfkf tve cdjt cjukfcbt.
Masha began to treat him more graciously and once on a walk she gave him her
Arguments 215

A comparative implies comparison to some other individual or situation --- that
is, to a s t a n da r d . Often the standard is left implicit, to be understood from
context. The standard can be expressed in the genitive: evy†t tuj ˜smarter than
him™ ([181]). Or the standard can be made explicit with a conjunction, neutral
xtv or old-fashioned y†;tkb. The standard of comparison can be an individual
([181]) or a place ([182]) or an occasion ([183]):

[181] Rjcnz ,sk cnfhit yfc ujlf yf nhb b dsukzltk ,jktt cjkblyj, yt;tkb
Kostia was older than us by three years and looked more solid than the rest of us.
[182] E cfvjuj d[jlf d ,fyr ;vtncz r cntyrt ytrnj b yf kjvfyjv fyukbqcrjv zpsrt
itgjnjv lftn pf dfk/ne d gznm hfp ljhj;t, xtv d ,fyrt.
At the entrance someone clings to the wall and offers in whispered, broken
English to exchange currency for a rate ¬ve times higher than in the bank.
[183] B dct[ nt[ ,jufncnd ,skj njulf vyjuj ,jkmit, xtv ntgthm.
And of those riches there were then many more than now.

The standard usually has the same role in the predicate as the entity that is
compared, and hence has the same case as the compared entity: nominative
([184]), dative ([185]), possessive genitive ([186]), accusative ([187]):

[184] Z<nom> vjue ,tufnm ,scnhtt, xtv jntw<nom> .
I can run faster than father.
[185] Cgtwbfkbcnfv<dat> vs gkfnbv vtymit, xtv uhjvflyjq vfcct<dat> hf,jnybrjd c
,jktt ybprjq rdfkbabrfwbtq.
To specialists we pay less than to the great mass of workers with lower
[186] Ghjlernbdyjcnm Fpjdcrjuj vjhz<gen> d nj dhtvz ,skf d 1,5 hfpf ,jkmit, xtv
Ctdthyjuj<gen> .
The productivity of the Sea of Azov was at that time one and a half times greater
than that of the North Sea.
[187] Эnj e;t cltkfkj hflbjfcnhjyjvb/<acc> ,jktt ¤pjhrjq≥, xtv j,sxye/
jgnbxtcre/<acc> .
That has already made radio astronomy more insightful than ordinary optical

When the standard is the implicit subject of the comparison, the nominative
is used. In [188], the father is an implicit subject by virtue of belonging to the
class of energetic workers:

[188] Z yt pyfk, lf b ntgthm yt pyf/ ,jktt ltzntkmyjuj b ecthlyjuj hf,jnybrf, xtv
vjq jntw<nom> .
I did not know, and I still don™t know today any more effective and energetic
worker than my father [is].
216 A Reference Grammar of Russian

4.4.8 Event nouns: introduction
Many nouns have something of the ¬‚avor of predicates. As nouns, they refer
or point to something, but what they refer to is an event or part of an event.
Such e v e n t nouns often have arguments analogous to the arguments of verbs.
The most transparent of these nouns are derived by suf¬xation of verbal roots;
they are neuter nouns of Declension<Ib> formed with an augment {-ij-} added
to what looks like the passive participle: ceotcndjdfybt (ghjnbdjhtxbq) ˜exis-
tence (of contradictions)™, cjcnjzybt (,fyrjdcrjuj ctrnjhf) ˜condition (of bank-
ing)™, cjdthitycndjdfybt ˜perfection™, cjhtdyjdfybt (jgthfwbjyys[ cbcntv) ˜com-
petition (of operating systems)™, jnhbwfybt (yfituj ds,jhf) ˜rejection (of our
choice)™, gthtdjcgbnfybt (kbw, cjdthibdib[ ghtcnegktybz) ˜re-education (of peo-
ple who have committed crimes)™, j,kflfybt (bcnbyjq) ˜possession (of truth)™,
nht,jdfybt (r jxbcnrt ufpjd) ˜demand (for cleaning of gases)™, (b[) jge,kbrjdfybt
˜(their) publication™. Abstract nouns related to adjectives, such as ytj,[jlbvjcnm
˜necessity™, pfrjyjvthyjcnb ˜regularities™, can also be considered event nouns
referring to a static event.
Other nouns not formed with productive suf¬xes can also evoke events and
have arguments: k/,jdm r hjlbyt ˜love for the fatherland™, kjdkz ,f,jxtr ˜but-
ter¬‚y hunting™, ub,tkm wfhz ˜the demise of the czar™, hfpujdjhs dphjcks[ vt;le
cj,jq j, buhf[ d rfhns ˜the conversations of grownups among themselves about
card games™. The ability of nouns to evoke events is so pervasive that one can see
an event lurking in ljhjuf d Neke cyt;ysvb gjkzvb ˜[a journey on] the road to
Tula through snow-covered ¬elds™.
Event nouns, even the most event-like, stop short of being verbs. They do
not distinguish verbal categories. The re¬‚exive af¬x -cz cannot be used with
nouns, even if the corresponding verb is necessarily re¬‚exive: jnxfzybt ˜despair™,
related to jnxfznmcz ˜despair™. Because nouns do not allow the re¬‚exive af¬x,
many event nouns are associated both with transitive verbs and with re¬‚ex-
ive intransitive verbs: jnlfktybt ˜departure, removal™, related to both transitive
jnlfkbnm ˜remove™ and re¬‚exive jnlfkbnmcz ˜remove oneself, depart™. Aspect is
not distinguished. As a rule, only one nominal is formed, in some instances like
the perfective (gthtdjcgbnfybt ˜re-education™, yfrfpfybt ˜punishment™), in others
like a secondary imperfective (ds,hfcsdfybt ˜tossing out™, dscrfpsdfybt ˜utter-
ance™, dcfcsdfybt ˜sucking into™). Dual forms are rare: usual bp,hfybt ˜election™
(bp,hfnm<pf> ), unusual bp,bhfybt ˜the process of selecting™ (bp,bhfnm<if> ).
Using event nouns and abstract nouns extensively is characteristic of scien-
ti¬c and publicistic style: ytj,[jlbvjcnm ,jktt lbaathtywbhjdfyyjuj gjl[jlf
r yfpyfxtyb/ eujkjdyjuj yfrfpfybz ˜the necessity of a more differentiated ap-
proach to the designation of criminal punishment™.
Arguments 217

4.4.9 Semantics of event nouns
Event nouns have different senses in contexts, along two parameters.
One parameter is the reference of the event. An event noun often has essential
reference -- it establishes the fact of the existence of an event of a certain type
([189--90]) -- but can also refer to a speci¬c event ([191]):

[189] E yb[ e;t yt [dfnfkj dhtvtyb yf xntybt.
They already were short of time for [any activity that would qualify as] reading.
[190] Jy ghbvbhbkcz, jy djj,ot yt dthbk d cdjt jcdj,j;ltybt.
He was resigned, he did not believe in [the possibility of ] his being freed at all.
[191] Ghtlctlfntkm pfrfikzkcz, yt chfpe cvju ghjljk;bnm xntybt.
The chairman began to cough, and could not continue [the current act of ]
reading right away.

Also, an event noun can refer to the whole event (as above) or to some part
or aspect of the event: the manner in which the event progresses ([192]) or the
results of an event ([193]):

[192] Tuj yjdjt ceotcndjdfybt c ;tyjq b ltnmvb ,skj yfcnjkmrj lkz ytuj
lhfujwtyyj, xnj ghbphfrb ,skjuj yt ljgecrfkbcm c/lf.
His new existence with wife and children was so valuable to him that no
phantoms from the past were permitted.
[193] Jn hfljcnb z pf,sk pf[dfnbnm cdjb ghbcgjcj,ktybz lkz kjdkb ,f,jxtr.
I was so enthused I forgot to grab with me my instruments for butter¬‚y hunting.

The result reading, especially, is frequent. A gjvtotybt is just as likely to be a
location as an act of locating; ghbcgjcj,ktybt in the sense of a result of devising --
a device, as in [193] -- is as common as the pure event sense of the process of
adaptation ([194]):

[194] Ecnfyjdktys pfrjyjvthyjcnb ghbcgjcj,ktybz jhufybpvf r eckjdbzv
The regularities of the adaptation of the organism to the condition of
weightlessness were determined.

4.4.10 Arguments of event nouns
Event nouns have arguments corresponding to predicate arguments.45 It is useful
to distinguish the equivalent of intransitive verbs, which have one major argu-
ment, and the equivalent of transitive verbs, which may have two arguments.

45 On valence in event nouns, see: Veyrenc 1972, 1974, Revzin 1973[a], Comrie 1980[a], Rappaport
1992, Fowler 1998, and especially Paducheva 1984. To judge by the typological literature on event
nouns, Russian is not unusual in its valence patterns or semantics or restrictions on verbal cate-
gories (Comrie 1976[a], Comrie and Thompson 1985, Koptjevskaja-Tamm 1993, with bibliography).
218 A Reference Grammar of Russian

An argument analogous to the subject of an intransitive is expressed in the
genitive if it is a noun ([195]), as a possessive adjective if it is a pronoun ([196--97]):

[195] {ghb[jl djqcr<gen> ∼ ghjktnfhcrjt ghjbc[j;ltybt hfp,bdfntktq<gen> dfujyjd
∼ gjcnegktybt ghjlernjd<gen> }
{arrival of the troops ∼ the proletarian origins of the destroyers of the wagons ∼
the arrival of products}
[196] {— ghb[jl vtyz<gen> } ∼ {{vjq<pss> ∼ cdjq<pss> ∼ b[<pss> } ghb[jl}
{— arrival of me} ∼ {{my ∼ one™s own ∼ their} arrival}
[197] {— jnxfzybt ct,z<gen> } ∼ {cdjt<pss> jnxfzybt}
{— despair of self} ∼ {one™s own despair}

As above (§4.4.2), the third-person forms behave in a manner parallel to pos-
sessive adjectives, in that the unmarked position is before the event noun: tuj
ghb[jl ˜his arrival™, parallel to vjq ghb[jl, in contrast to ghbtpl ghtpbltynf ˜the
arrival of the president™; similarly, ndjz htibntkmyjcnm ˜your decisiveness™, tt
htibntkmyjcnm ˜her decisiveness™, but htibntkmyjcnm ujcelfhcndf ˜the decisive-
ness of the government™.
If an event noun corresponds to a transitive predicate, there are three possibil-
ities for expressing both arguments: (a) the subject analog is instrumental, the
object analog is a possessive ([198]); (b) the subject analog is instrumental, the ob-
ject analog is genitive ([199--200]); (c) or the subject analog is possessive, the object
analog is genitive ([201--2]):

[198] Cnfkby dct-nfrb evth tcntcndtyyjq cvthnm/ (tckb yt ghbybvfnm dj dybvfybt
ytj,jcyjdfyye/ dthcb/ j tuj<pss> zrj,s e,bqcndt <thbtq<ins> ).
Stalin, nevertheless, died a natural death (assuming one does not consider the
unsubstantiated version about his supposed murder by Beria).
[199] xntybt Regthf<gen> extybrjv<ins>
the reading of Cooper by the pupil
[200] Jy ujdjhbk j e,bqcndt Cnfkbysv<ins> tuj ;tys<gen> .
He spoke about the murder by Stalin of his wife.
[201] {vjt<pss> ∼ tuj<pss> } xntybt Regthf<gen>
{my ∼ his} reading of Cooper
[202] Dfkz gjghjcbkf pfgbcfnm yf vfuybnjajy tt<pss> b vjt<pss> xntybt jnltkmys[
ahfp<gen> .
Valia asked to have her and my reading of some individual phrases tape-recorded.

The possibilities for arguments in event nouns are schematized in Table 4.10.
As is evident from Table 4.10, instrumental case and genitive case are used
for complementary arguments. It is impossible to have two genitives, one the
analog of a transitive subject, the other the object analog, in a single nominal.
The versatile possessives ¬t in all three positions.
Arguments 219

Table 4.10 Arguments in event nouns

analog instrumental possessive pronoun genitive

{tt<pss> ∼ vjt<pss> } xntybt
TRANSITIVE xntybt Kynepa
SUBJECT extybrjv<ins> jnltkmys[ ahfp
˜{her ∼ my} reading of
˜reading of Cooper
by the pupil™ individual phrases™

{ndjq<pss> ∼ tt<pss> } ghb[jl
INTRANSITIVE ghb[jl djqcr<gen>
˜{your ∼ her} arrival™
SUBJECT ˜arrival of troops™
[pronoun] [noun]

{tuj<pss> ∼ vjt<pss> }
TRANSITIVE yfpyfxtybt vtyz<gen>
OBJECT ˜appointment of me™
˜{his ∼ my} appointment™

Table 4.10 gives the maximal possibilities, when all arguments are ex-
pressed. In practice, arguments of event nouns, especially those corresponding
to agents of transitives, are often left out, to be interpreted, depending on con-
text, as referring to any person™s participation or to some speci¬c individual™s

[203] Эnjve ubvyfpbcne elfkjcm crhsnmcz, yj dtlencz tuj gjbcrb.
That gymnasium student managed to slip away, but his search [the
search for him] is underway.
[204] gthtdzprf dtys b tt elfktybt
binding of the vein and its removal
[205] U: E vtyz fggtnbn ghj,e;lftncz gjckt My appetite kicks in after arrival at
ghb[jlf yf hf,jne.
Well with respect to arrival at work --
B: Ye c ghb[jljv yf hf,jne lf, e yfc
эnj ; ghjwtcc djn ghbqnb yf hf,jne, that process of arriving at work, that
takes an hour and a half.
djn xfcf gjknjhf pfybvftn.

As in Table 4.10, pronominal arguments corresponding to objects can be ex-
pressed in principle in two ways: as genitives or as possessives.46 Genitives -- the
more general option -- focus on the fact that an event, viewed as a whole fact
(essential reference), occurs at all, as is appropriate when the event is still virtual

[206] Djghjc j yfpyfxtybb tuj<gen> yf jndtncndtyysq gjcn djn-djn ljk;ty ,sk

46 Paducheva 1984.
220 A Reference Grammar of Russian

The question of assigning him [= whether to assign him] to an important position
was to be decided any day now.
[207] Jy ,sk ghjnbd ghtdhfotybz vtyz<gen> d gthtdjlxbrf.
He was opposed to [the possibility of] converting me into a translator.
[208] Jyf yt gjljphtdfkf j {— ndjtv ghtcktljdfybb ∼ ghtcktljdfybb nt,z}.
She had no suspicion of the persecution of you [= of the fact that persecution of
you was occurring].

Using a possessive is appropriate if the event is actual and is characteristic of,
or of interest to, that speci¬c possessor ([209--11]):

[209] Yt cjdctv gjybvf/ ghbxbye vjtuj<pss> yfpyfxtybz.
I don™t entirely understand the reason for my appointment.
[210] Jy yt cjxedcndjdfk vjtve<pss> ghtdhfotyb/ d gthtdjlxbrf.
He was not sympathetic to my conversion to a translator.
[211] Z ,ele ghjcbnm, xnj,s cel gjnht,jdfk jn heccrb[ dkfcntq ghtrhfnbnm vjt<pss>
I will ask that the court demand of the Russian authorities that they cease my

Arguments of event nouns corresponding to arguments other than subject
or object usually have the same cases as they would with the correspond-
ing verb. For example, djpdhfotybt ˜return™, related to djpdhfnbnm/djpdhfofnm
˜return™, allows sources (gjckt djpdhfotybz bp Rbnfz ˜after the return from
China™) or goals (djpdhfotybt b[ yf rjhf,km ˜returning them to the ship™); the
verb (edktxmcz/edktrfnmcz rjvgm/nthfvb ˜be fascinated with computers™) and
the event noun (edktxtybt rjvgm/nthfvb ˜fascination with computers™) govern
the instrumental.
An exception to this rule is the set of nouns that refer to static attitudes. The
goal of the attitude is expressed by the preposition r with the dative even when
the corresponding verb does not use this preposition: edf;tybt r cj,tctlybre
˜respect for one™s interlocutor™, ghtphtybt r nfrbv k/lzv ˜scorn for such people™
(edf;fnm ˜respect™, ghtpbhfnm ˜scorn™ take the accusative); ghtyt,ht;tybt
r wtyyjcnzv ˜inattention to valuables™ (ghtyt,htxm wtyyjcnzvb<ins> ˜treat
valuables inattentively™); jndhfotybt r irjkt ˜disgust for school™ (compare
jndhfnbnmcz/jndhfofnmcz jn irjks ˜feel repulsed from school™).

4.5 Reference in text: nouns, pronouns, and ellipsis

4.5.1 Basics
As speakers talk about the entities in the world, they use one or another
r e f e r e n t i a l e x p o n e n t to name or refer to the entities. Referential
Arguments 221

exponents are the following: bare nouns; nouns with adjectives; nouns with
demonstrative pronouns; demonstrative pronouns used as nouns (without
nouns); pronouns; ellipsis, or “zero pronouns” (absence of any overt argument
where one might be expected); and re¬‚exive pronouns. Many referential expo-
nents have a similar function. Pronouns, re¬‚exive pronouns (§4.7), zero pro-
nouns, and sometimes bare nouns can all point to known individuals whose
existence and relevance have been established. The various exponents differ in
how they instruct the addressee to look for information about the individual. Ex-
ponents can be more or less local. Third-person (non-re¬‚exive) pronouns instruct
the addressee to look for a source of information about the individual currently
under discussion somewhere else, over a boundary, over a barrier, and integrate
the current information with the inherited understanding of the individual.47

4.5.2 Common nouns in text
Nouns establish the existence of some entity and categorize it: they state what
category (type, class, essence) the entity belongs to, and thereby indicate what
some of its properties are.
Russian is famous for the fact that it does not have articles. (And, unlike Czech,
it does not use demonstratives with any special frequency.) As a consequence, a
bare noun or a noun with an adjective does not by itself indicate whether the
entity is a speci¬c individual known to the addressee or not. On ¬rst mention, a
noun establishes that there is an entity that belongs to a certain class. What the
noun refers to may or may not have any particular signi¬cance as an individual.
In [212], for example, all that is known about the entities being carried is that
they have the essence of backpacks (h/rpfrb), and they will not be relevant
further. In contrast, the legendary helmet girl reappears.

[212] F vs jcnfdbkb h/rpfrb yf gjkgenb // Yfc dcnhtnbkf ltdbwf d iktvt / djn эnf
ltdbwf d iktvt yfc ghtcktljdfkf // Nfrfz ktutylfhyfz // E ytt ,sk rfrjq-nj
ytdthjznysq rjvgfc
So we left our backpacks along the way // We were met by a girl in a helmet / well
that helmet girl persecuted us // positively legendary // she had some amazing

Bare nouns can be used not only to establish new entities. They can also refer
to entities that have already been established as individuals. For example, in
the abridged text in [213], the memoirist ¬rst mentions a unique lake (jpthj
Cdtnkjzh) where he once went with a friend to observe the festival of the Holy
Mother of Vladimir before such rituals were suppressed.

47 That is, identity need not remain constant across times and worlds, pace Fauconnier 1985.
222 A Reference Grammar of Russian

[213] Nfv ytdlfktrt yf[jlbkjcm jpthj Not far from there was located Lake
Cdtnkjzh -- vjz lfdybiyzz uhtpf. Vs Svetloiar -- my longstanding dream. We
arrived on the evening of the holiday
gjgflfkb nelf yfrfyeyt
of the Mother of God of Vladimir,
ghtcnjkmyjuj ghfplybrf
when the devout are vouchsafed a
Dkflbvbhcrjq <j;mtq Vfnthb, rjulf
vision of the sacred city of Kitezh on
ghfdtlyst k/lb eljcnfbdf/ncz
the bottom of the lake . . .
kbwtphtnm yf lyt jpthf cdzotyysq
uhfl Rbnt; . . .
Djrheu cnjzkb k/lb, ckeifkb . . . People were standing around,
listening . . . We stood a while as well,
Gjcnjzkb b vs, gjnjv cgecnbkbcm r
jpthe . . . Dct cnjzkb r jpthe kbwjv . . . then went down to the lake . . .
Everyone stood facing the lake . . . We
Vs gjljikb r cfvjq djlt b nen
went up to the water and there saw
edbltkb cjdthityyj ytdthjznyjt. Jn
something completely unbelievable.
gjdth[yjcnb jpthf itk ckf,sq
cdtn . . . Off the surface of the lake came a
faint glow . . .
I heard a rustling in the reeds, looked
Z ecsifk ijhj[ d rfvsif[,
there and saw an old woman. She was
dcvjnhtkcz b edbltk cnfhe[e. Jyf
gjkpkf yf kjrnz[ . . . Pf yt/ gjkpkb crawling on her elbows . . . Behind her
lheufz, nhtnmz . . . Jyb lfkb j,tn was crawling a second, and a third . . .
They had vowed to crawl around the
ghjgjkpnb djrheu dctuj jpthf!
whole lake!

After the ¬rst mention, that unique lake is referred to by means of a bare noun.
(A third-person pronoun would con¬‚ict with the speaker™s companion.) Similarly
in [214], one clause ¬rst establishes the existence of an entity that quali¬es as a
˜plateau™. After that, the entity is known as a unique individual, and it is referred
to by the bare noun.

[214] djn d ujhe gjlyzkbcm / b эnj e;t ,skj gkfnj // Djn // Pyfxbn z uekzkf gj gkfne
// Gkfnj yfpsdftncz Zqkf, xnj km? . . . nfr ghtlcnfdkzkf ct,t / <. . .> / gkfnj
jxtym ,jkmijt //
so we climbed up the mountain / and there was a plateau // So // I mean I walked
on the plateau // The plateau is called Iaila or something . . . that™s what I thought
/ <. . .> / the plateau is quite large //

Nouns, then, at ¬rst mention introduce and categorize an entity (essential ref-
erence); in context, nouns can point to an already known, individuated entity.

4.5.3 Third-person pronouns
A third-person pronoun is the neutral exponent for keeping track of an en-
tity that is established as a distinct individual.48 Normally a pronoun is used
48 On anaphoric pronouns in Russian, see Paducheva 1985.
Arguments 223

throughout a series of predicates that form a coherent block of text, so long
as the text has no boundaries: there are no competing referents of the same
gender--number, the time-worlds are the same, and the unit of text (the episode)
is the same. In [215], the individual is identi¬ed by a noun at the beginnings of
episodes, and pronouns are used within the episodes.

[215] Dct gjcktlytt dhtvz gfgf cj,bhfkcz d Rfbh, yf rjyuhtcc fh[tjkjujd. Yfcnfk
ltym jn(tplf. Vs ghjdj;fkb tuj yf djrpfk, ytkjdrj njkrkbcm hzljv c ybv yf
gthhjyt, ;fktz tuj pf nfrb[ ytcrkflys[ ltntq, yf ytuj yt gj[j;b[ . . .
Gfgf ckfk yfv gbcmvf c genb, bp Faby b bp dct[ ujhjljd, xthtp rjnjhst t[fk
<. . .> Xeltcyst gbcmvf! <. . .> Yj gjxtve-nj jy yt gjkexfk yfib[ jndtnys[
Vs e;t ;lfkb crjhjuj djpdhfotybz gfgs.
All this time papa was getting ready to go to Cairo, to a meeting of archeologists.
The day of departure came. We took him to the station, awkwardly hanging
around the platform with him, pitying him for such useless children, so unlike
him . . .
Papa sent us a letter from Athens and from all the cities he traveled through
<. . .> Wonderful letters! <. . .> For some reason he didn™t receive our answers.
We were already expecting papa™s return any moment.

Anaphoric pronouns usually refer to well-established individuals with distinct
properties. But in Russian anaphoric pronouns can also refer back to essential
descriptions, where in English some other pronominal form (one, etc.) would be

[216] -- B c nfrbvb pyfvtybnsvb ghtlrfvb b yt ,snm vjyfh[bcnjv! -- dcrhbxfk
-- Ybrjulf bv yt ,sk!
-- And with such notable ancestors not to be a monarchist! -- exclaimed the
-- I was never one.

4.5.4 Ellipsis (˜˜zero” pronouns)
As a rule, Russian uses an overt phrase -- a noun or a pronoun -- for its subject
argument and, when the verb is transitive, for the object argument. In this
respect, Russian is not what has come to be called “a pro-drop language.”50

49 Channon 1983:61.
50 It is a question whether “pro-drop language” is a unitary concept. Discussing Russian, Franks
(1995:317, passim) distinguishes two senses of the term: Russian is like English and French in
retaining subject pronouns (thus all three are positive for the parameter “+Overt Subject Param-
eter”), but Russian is unlike English or French in not requiring dummy subjects (Russian has a
negative value for “Overt Expletive Subject Parameter”: — эnj [jkjlyj). Moreover, null (elliptical)
subjects are said to be licensed by discourse, and Russian is said to be more discourse-oriented
224 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Yet there are contexts when Russian indulges in ellipsis -- when it does without
overt subject argument phrases or (less commonly) object argument phrases
when those would be expected. (Below, “º” marks the absence of an expected
argument in Russian.) Ellipsis depends on register and mode of language and
on systemic factors.
Speech uses ellipsis liberally. Ellipsis is possible in dialogue when the identities
of the participants are predictable, as in sequences of question and answer.
Often, the question, being more open-ended, contains an overt pronoun, while
a direct response to the question lacks a subject, as happens more than once in
[217] (1 V/2 K, 12 K/13 V, 16 K/17 V).

[217] 1 V: F jy gjckt hf,jns ghbltn / lf? He™s coming after work / right?
2 K: Lf-f/ º cj,bhfkcz // Jy [jxtn / e Yes / [he] meant to // He wants / His
ytuj xfcs dcnfkb // B jy [j . . . watch stopped // And he wants to
take it to be ¬xed/
[jxtn b[ jnlfnm d htvjyn/
V: Djn ctujlyz z gjtle // <. . .> So today I will go// <. . .>
12 At what time are you going to go?
K: F dj crjkmrj ns gjtltim?
13 V: Ye º djn ghzvj ctqxfc yfdthyj Well [I] will go probably right away. //
gjtle //
14 K: F-f / ye ns dthytimcz r dtxthe / Aha / but you™ll return by evening /
15 Well I think at six or seven I™ll be
V: Ye z levf/ xnj xfcjd d
itcnm-ctvm z ,ele // here //
16 K: Nfr xnj ns Gtn/-nj edblbim // So then you™ll see Petya //
17 V: º Edb;e º levftim / lf? Ye z [I] will see him, [you] think so / yes?
Well I™ll tell mama to have him wait
crf;e vfvt xnj,s jy vtyz
gjlj;lfk // for me. //

Pronouns are used when the predicate does more than simply respond to the
previous question (2 K, 17 V). Parenthetical phrases that relate to the fact of dia-
logue lack pronouns, phrases such as: yt cksie ˜[I] can™t hear you™, pyftim ˜[you]
know™, gjybvftim ˜[you] understand™, but ,hjcm ns ˜come off it!™.
In speech that is narrative, argument phrases can be omitted if the individual
is understood to be the same in all respects: the same individual with the same
properties; continuous text type (narrative or commentary or dialogue); same
time-world; and same perspective of the speaker. An overt argument phrase
signals a shift or discontinuity. In [218], the overt pronoun restarts the narrative
after the commentary (ye;yj ,skj nelf blnb), after which pronouns are omitted
in the two subsequent events of the brief episode of the ¬rst day:

than English (307), suggesting yet a third typological parameter. The task here is to characterize
the conditions and effect of invoking discourse-licensed ellipsis. See: Nichols 1985, Koktov’ 1992,
Kresin 1994.
Arguments 225

[218] Ye;yj ,skj nelf blnb / b djn vs [We] had to go there / and so we
ikb-ikb-ikb / gjrf . . . walked and walked and walked /
(jnrfikbdftncz) yt yfxfkj ntvytnm / until . . . [coughing] it started to get
xfcjd lj gznb / gjnjv º hfp,bkb dark / around ¬ve / then [we] broke out
gfkfnrb b jcnfyjdbkbcm // f yf the tents and stopped // and on the
cktle/obq ltym º e;t djikb d next day [we] entered into a real
yfcnjzobq rfymjy // B djn xnj эnj canyon // what can you say / that™s
nfrjt / эnj rhfcjnf / ytdblfyyfz // beauty / unprecedented //

In written Russian, argument phrases are omitted less frequently, but ellipsis
does occur. Ellipsis is common in ¬nite subordinate clauses. Ellipsis is usual in
adverbial clauses which share the subject with the main clause, as in [219].

[219] Z tplbkf nelf yt njkmrj d nt lyb, rjulf º nfywtdfkf.
I went there not only on the days when [I] danced.

In a modest sample with ¬rst-singular subjects and subordinate clauses intro-
duced by rjul’ (in either order), the pronoun was omitted in the second clause
89 percent of the time (25xx of 28xx).51 Overt pronouns appear in subordinate
clauses if there is an intervening subject:

[220] Ntgthm, rjulf z db;e /yjitq b ltdeitr, rjnjhst gj jrjyxfybb irjks yt
[jnzn exbnmcz lfkmit, z dctulf dcgjvbyf/ cdj/ /yjcnm.
Now, when I see young fellows and girls, who ¬nish school but do not want to
study further, I always remember my youth.

Ellipsis is usual in clauses expressing the content of verbs of speech or thought
when the subjects are identical, depending on the type of predicate. Ellipsis is
close to obligatory with verbs ([221]), less regular with adjectives ([222]), which
in turn tolerate ellipsis more than predicate nominals or prepositional phrases

[221] Z gjxedcndjdfkf, xnj {?z ∼ º} pfdkfltkf vjcrjdcrjq ge,kbrjq.
I felt that I had conquered the Moscow audience.
[222] Dbrnjh ghbpyfkcz vjtq vfnthb, xnj {±jy ∼ º} cxfcnkbd ,tpvthyj, xnj {±jy ∼
º} dk/,kty, rfr gskrbq /yjif.
Viktor confessed to my mother that [he was] completely happy, that [he was] in
love, like a passionate young man.
[223] Jy crfpfk, xnj {jy ∼ ?º} csy gjvtobrf, xnj {jy ∼ ?º} nj;t bp nt[ vtcn.
He said that [he was] the son of a landowner, that [he was] also from that area.

Operations on the predicate like the question kb or questions require a subject

51 Based on S. Golitsyn, Zapiski utselevshego (Moscow, 1990).
226 A Reference Grammar of Russian

[224] Z yt pyfkf, pfdkfltkf kb {z ∼ — º} vjcrjdcrjq ge,kbrjq.
I was not sure whether I had conquered the Moscow audience.
[225] Vs hfccrfpfkb, rnj {vs ∼ — º}.
We told who we were.

Thus, dependent clauses in written Russian often use ellipsis.
From one independent clause to the next, subject pronouns are generally
maintained in written Russian, but ellipsis occurs in written Russian that has
the ¬‚avor of speech (interior monologue, for example). A subject argument can
be omitted if the types of events or properties are related and continuous; if
the time-world is the same; and if the individuals are being discussed by the
same speaker and addressee. For example, in the following passage, all predicates
report on the same theme of the author™s biography. After the initial pronoun,
no subject pronouns are used until the predicate which starts a new paragraph
and brings us out of reminiscence back to the main narrative.

[226] Yj ujyjhfh z ecgtk gjkexbnm. Pfntv º gbcfk dyenhtyybt htwtypbb lkz
;ehyfkjd. Fyjybvyj º cjnhelybxfk yf ntktdbltybb. Rjhjxt, º ghtdhfnbkcz d
cdj,jlyjuj [elj;ybrf. B yfrjytw pfytckj vtyz d Nfkkbyy.
Jrjkj vfufpbyf cedtybhjd z pfvtnbk ntktajyye/ ,elre.
But I still managed to get paid. Then [I] wrote internal reviews for journals. [I]
anonymously worked in television. In short, [I] turned into a free-lance artist. And
now here fate had dumped me in Tallinn.
Next to a souvenir store I noticed a telephone booth.

Ellipsis of object arguments is possible, if the subjects are the same, the objects
are the same, and the second event is closely related to the ¬rst, by being part
of a series of events ([227]) or an elaboration or explication of the ¬rst ([228]):52

[227] Freithrf c[dfnbkf vtyz<j> pf yj;rb, gthtdthyekf º<j> ddth[ ujkjdjq b
iktgyekf º<j> gj ujkjq gjgrt.
The midwife grabbed me by my legs, turned [me] upside down, and slapped [me]
on my naked behind.
[228] D njn ltym jyf ghjlfkf cdjt tlbycndtyyjt ghbkbxyjt gkfnmt<j> . Ghjlfkf º<j>
ltitdj, gjnjve xnj nfrb[ gkfnmtd ,skj vyjuj d vfufpbyf[.
That day she sold her only decent dress. [She] sold [it] cheap, because there were
many such dresses in the shops.

Ellipsis does not occur when the events are understood as separate events for
which it is necessary to restate the participants: if the second event requires
the completion of the ¬rst ([229]) or if attention is focused on what eventually
happens to the object ([230]):

52 McShane 1999.
Arguments 227

[229] D htcnjhfyxbr djitk xtkjdtr b ctk hzljv c {fhbyunjyjv. -- Ghbdtn! -- dphtdtk
xtkjdtr. Gjnjv jy pfvtnbk {fhbyunjyf<j> b iktgyek tuj<j> gj cgbyt.
Into the restaurant came a man and sat next to Harrington. -- Greetings! -- the
man roared. Then he noticed Harrington and slapped him on the back.
[230] Jy dsnfobk bp rfhvfyf ldt cnjgrb ltytu<j> b iktgyek b[<j> yf cnjk gthtl
He took out two stacks of money and slapped them down on the table in front of

4.5.5 Second-person pronouns and address
Russian, like French, uses second-person plural forms of the pronoun and of the
present tense of verbs -- what may be written as the “B-form” -- both for true
plurals and for formal address to a single person.53 The second-person singular
forms of the pronoun (ns, etc.) and of verbs -- what may be written as the
“ -form” -- are then not only singular but also informal. To an extent the use of
address has to be understood as part of a dyad involving two speakers: reciprocal
” is mutually recognized familiarity and solidarity; B”B implies mutual
formality, distance, and mutual acknowledgment of autonomy; the mixed dyad
”B indicates an asymmetry in age or social status.54
For a given pair of individuals, the use of pronouns and (less so) forms of
names is stable in different speech contexts, though certain kinds of ad hoc
changes do occur. Speakers who use mutual privately may switch to B when
others are present in a professional setting. It has been reported that speakers
can spontaneously, in annoyance, switch to in place of B, or, alternatively,
that speakers can switch away from to a more detached B, indicating the
breakdown of cordial, familiar relations.
As a rule, once two individuals have adopted one pattern of address, they can
be expected to maintain the pattern throughout their lives. The exception is
the ritual transition from B to that marks the emergence of brotherhood or

53 The cultural rules for the use of the two forms of pronouns and verbs, and of names in address,
are, like many linguistic and cultural rules, internalized by speakers of Russian but little de-
scribed for outsiders. Kantorovich (1966) inserts personal observations and textual attestations in
an impassioned argument against asymmetric ”B. Friedrich (1966, 1972) lists ten parameters
that in¬‚uence usage and documents usage in nineteenth-century belles-lettres, which he takes
to re¬‚ect actual usage, with special attention to instances of shifts (“breakthroughs”) between
and B. The examples of instability should probably be interpreted as literary maneuvers. For
instance, the wild swings in pronoun usage between and B observed between the prince and
a seduced-and-abandoned maiden (eventually prostitute) in Tolstoy™s Resurrection has to be under-
stood as part of Tolstoy™s attempt to portray the complex power and moral relations between
the two characters. Nakhimovsky 1976 and Alexeev 2000 offer extensive observations about pat-
terns of usage across various ages and social groups. Comrie, Stone, and Polinsky 1996 adds some
additional observations.
54 55 Nakhimovsky 1976:93.
Brown and Gilman 1960.
228 A Reference Grammar of Russian

[231] Jlby bp yb[ -- Dfkthbq Gthwjd -- ujdjhbn lheujve:
-- Lfdfqnt ,eltv c dfvb yf ns.
-- Lfdfq, -- ujdjhbn lheujq. эnbv lheubv /yjitq ,sk z.
One of them -- Valery Pertsov -- says to the other:
-- Let™s switch to ty.
-- Let™s, -- says the other. I was that second youth.

Aside from this codi¬ed rite of transition, speakers otherwise tend to maintain
the pattern they establish, from the time in the life cycle when they establish
their relations. Childhood or adolescent friends who have grown up with
continue to use throughout their lives. Thus “to switch from ns to ds when
a relationship has reached a certain degree of intimacy is impossible, in fact
Actual usage depends on the social class of the interlocutors, their institu-
tional rank and allegiance, age, and how people perceive these variables.
Children grow up being addressed with and using to address family
members and peers. Children learn to address adult family friends with B, with
a quasi-kinship title like lzlz (Njkz), ntnz (Ktyf), and eventually to use B with
adult outsiders (teachers, etc.).
The usage among adolescents and young adults is transitional. It was reported
a quarter of a century ago that adolescents begin to be addressed with B by
teachers and other adults from (approximately) the age of sixteen, and since they
already address their teachers (and other authority ¬gures) with B, they would,
accordingly, enter into dyads of reciprocal B”B.57 For young people amongst
themselves, reciprocal ” seems to be usual now when they presume they
belong to the same social sphere -- educational or professional or social circles.
However, a new acquaintance between members of the opposite sexes in late
adolescence used to begin with B if they did not presume a shared in-group.
Middle-aged adults of comparable status who have no prior relationship are
likely to initiate reciprocal B”B. The reciprocal pattern is that favored in aca-
demic institutions between persons of different ages (excepting younger col-
leagues who think of themselves as peers and use reciprocal ” ). Some asym-
metry in the relations is inevitably introduced by the name forms that are used
in the dyad ”B. In particular, a senior person can use the ¬rst name (= ˜)
or the surname (= ) while the junior person uses ¬rst name and patronymic
(=˜ J). Reciprocal B”B among comparable adults (of comparable status and

56 Nakhimovsky 1976:117, n. 4, a source unusual in making explicit the etiology of address -- the
fact that speakers establish a pattern of address at some point and thereafter maintain that
57 Transition to address with B may not be universal (Comrie, Stone, and Polinsky 1996:252).
Arguments 229

age, with no long-term history) has evidently been losing ground to reciprocal
Asymmetric usage ( ”B) makes explicit an asymmetry in power relations
in an institutional setting -- in the army, in factories -- but it is possible that
asymmetric ”B has lost ground to B”B and ” over the last quarter
century.58 Overall, the development until 1989--91 was in the direction of in-
creasing use of the two reciprocal patterns. B”B evidently expanded across
the institutional spectrum, from the most genteel context of academia to other
institutions. ” expanded up the age ladder, at the expense of the asymmet-
ric pattern ”B and the formal pattern of B”B. It remains to be seen what
patterns of usage will emerge -- in particular, whether the asymmetric pattern
”B will make a comeback in the culture of the New Russians, where power
and status are so vexed.

4.5.6 Names
Names are various, and various combinations are possible.59 Usage differs de-
pending on whether the name is used to address someone or to refer to someone.
Usage differs by genre or function of text. Even in speech, narrative is different
from immediate conversation. Of¬cial bureaucratic style has its own patterns
(in writing and, derivatively, in speech). Memoirs have a distinct style, one that
vacillates between familiarity and detachment. Reference is made below to one
uninspired, Soviet-era text, a set of short reminiscences by forty writers and
family members about the jingoistic poet Alexander Andreevich Prokofev.60 The
text, while formulaic, offers some evidence about the variation that is possible
in the use of names to refer to the same individual in a written text.
Russian names have maximally three parts: the formal given name (bvz, here-
after, “˜ ”), such as Fktrctq; the patronymic (jnxtcndj, hereafter “J”), such
as male Fktrcttdbx, female Fktrcttdyf; and the surname (or family name,
afvbkbz, hereafter “ ”), such as male Fktrcttd, female Fktrcttdf. In place
of the formal ¬rst names, diminutives (evtymibntkmyfz ajhvf, hereafter, “У ”),
such as Fktif, are often used.

Given name/bvz (˜ or У ): In a d d r e s s , someone who is addressed with the
informal pronoun is as a rule also addressed by the given name, and in fact
by a diminutive form rather than the full form of the given name. The forms
of У are legion. For example, the formal name Fktrctq ˜Aleksei™ gives Fkt[f,
Fktif, Kt[f, Ktyf, Fktitymrf, Fkt[fy, Ktrcf, Ktrctq, Ktrctqrf; similarly,
58 Comrie, Stone, and Polinsky 1996:255.
59 60 Aleksandr Prokof ev: Vspominaiut druz ia: sbornik (Moskva, 1977).
Formanovskaia 1989:71--74.
230 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Vfhbz ˜Mariia™ gives Vfhbqrf, Vfhbif, Vfhz, Vekz, Vecz, Vfhecz, Vfh/nf,
Vfcz, Veif, Vfyz, Vfy/yz, Vfyzif, Vfif, Vfieyz, Vfhmzif.61 У is used to
address a person with and to refer to a person whom the speaker would
address by and У.
Most diminutive names belong to the second declension, and end in {-a} in
the nominative singular. In address, the ¬nal {-a} is often lost, and the preceding
consonant does not devoice: Yfnfi, Dbnm, lzlm [d˛ ], Ctht; [z]. The more explicit

form with {-a} is preserved when a dialogue is initiated ([232]):

[232] 1 D: Plhfdcndeq Ktyf // Эnj Vfhmzyf Greetings Lena // This is Mariana
2 K: Lj,hsq ltym Vfhmzyf Good day Mariana.
<. . .> <. . .>
4 D: Ye dctuj lj,hjuj Kty // Well all the best Len // Come see us
some time
Ghb[jlb rfr-yb,elm r yfv
5 K: {jhjij Vfhmzy // Rfr dshdecm nfr Fine Marian // Soon as [I] get free [I]
will come

The less explicit form (Kty, Vfhmzy) maintains or con¬rms an ongoing connec-
tion between speaker and addressee (4 D or 5 K in [232]).
The more formal ˜ is used less commonly than У . Still, it can be used by a
speaker (for example, by a spouse) as a more detached, less intimate referential
form than the diminutive. Thus, in talking to her friend Natasha, Sveta refers
to her husband as Fylhtq:

[233] Y: B ds ljkuj ikb nfv? Did you walk for a long time there?
C: Gj эnjve rfymjye vs ikb-ikb / Along that canyon we walked and
walked / Andrei of course wanted to
Fylhtq rjytxyj [jntk tuj yfcrdjpm
walk all the way through it

Given name-patronymic/bvz jnxtcndj (˜ J): The given name is used together
with the patronymic as a conventional combination. In a d d r e s s , a person who
is addressed by B is usually addressed using ˜J. Conversely, a person addressed
using ˜J is addressed with B:

[234] Vfhufhbnf Yfgjktjyyf / f hfccrf;bnt j Gfhb;t
Margarita Napoleonovna / tell us about Paris

By using ˜J to refer to someone, the speaker invites the addressee to think
of the person as someone who might be addressed in those terms, by means of
˜J and B. There are many possible motivations: the speaker is acquainted with
the person; the speaker knows the addressee is acquainted with the person; the
61 Listed in the popular handbook Grushko and Medvedev 2000.
Arguments 231

speaker invites the addressee to think of the person as someone who might be
addressed. We do not know Pushkin, but we can discuss him as a person who
might be addressed:

[235] Geirbycrb[ cjcty e;t ytn djpkt ctkf Vb[fqkjdcrjuj, rfr ytn b cfvjuj
Fktrcfylhf Cthuttdbxf, tuj ltntq . . .
The Pushkinian pines are no longer at Mikhailovskoe, just as there is no
Aleksandr Sergeevich himself, nor his children . . .

A person who could be addressed is a private individual, one with unique habits
or qualities that the speaker (or the reader) could observe (as in [236]). These
private, personal properties are opposed to the public and professional properties
of the individual:

[236] Vs ;bkb d Ljvt ndjhxtcndf d Rjvfhjdt. Cnjzkf [jkjlyfz pbvf. Ghjrjamtd d nt
lyb gtht;bdfk nhfubxtcre/ rjyxbye csyf Cfyb -- yfituj, njulf tot vjkjls[
gbcfntktq, njdfhbof -- lfhjdbnjuj gjэnf b gthtdjlxbrf. Nt, rnj yf[jlbkcz
hzljv c Fktrcfylhjv Fylhttdbxtv, cnfhfkbcm jndktxm tuj . . .
We were living in the Dom Tvorchestva in Komarovo. It was a cold winter.
Prokofev in those days was trying to get over the tragic death of his son Sania -- a
comrade of us writers, who were still young then -- a talented poet and translator.
Whoever was around Aleksandr Andreevich tried to distract him . . .

The ¬rst reference by means of presents a journalistic fact, after which the
perspective shifts to discuss how this individual, now ˜J, interacted with others
as a private person.
The patronymic J is used occasionally by itself in peasants™ or workers™ speech,
addressed to avuncular ¬gures,62 a famous example being yfi Bkmbx ˜our
beloved Ilich [Lenin]™, or among the intelligentsia as a teasing parody of that
type of usage.

Surname/afvbkbz (¤ ): The surname can be used by itself or in combination
with the given name ˜ or ˜J. The combined forms ˜J or ˜ would ordinarily
not be used in address, except in bureaucratic contexts (for example, reading
a list of names). can be used by itself in address with . This pattern can
signal: a remnant of schooldays, solidarity within some profession or status
group (when is reciprocal), or condescension from a superior to an inferior
(when the address dyad is asymmetric ”B).
62 Nakhimovsky 1976:95. A no less famous example from an earlier time: ¤ljkuj kb verb ctz,
ghjnjgjg, ,eltn?≥ B z ujdjh/: ¤Vfhrjdyf, lj cfvsz cvthnb!≥ Jyf ;t, dplj[yz, jndtofkf:
¤lj,hj, Gtnhjdbxm, byj tot gj,htltv≥ “Will these torments last long, oh protopope?” And I say,
“Markovna, until death.” And she, sighing, answered, “Well, Petrovich, let us wander a bit more”.™
232 A Reference Grammar of Russian

In reference, is used in an anaphoric fashion to refer to a known individ-
ual in the middle of an episode, once the identity of the individual and some
properties of the individual are established ([236], [237] below).
The combination of all three names ˜J (for example, Fktrcfylh Fylhttdbx
Ghjrjamtd) provides a complete identi¬cation of an individual, potentially with
all properties relevant, with overtones of grandeur, to initiate or ¬nish off the
discussion of an individual. Using initials (F. F. Ghjrjamtd) is more bureaucratic
than the explicit ˜J .
The combination of ˜ (without the jnxtcndj) is used especially for public
¬gures (actors, writers, etc.). It invites one to think of the public as opposed
to the private individual -- for example, to introduce individuals for a public
performance ([237]):

[237] Dcktl pf Dctdjkjljv Dbiytdcrbv dscnegbk Fktrcfylh Ghjrjamtd. Jy dsitk yf
cwtye edthtyysv, ndthlsv ifujv. Gthdst ;t ckjdf tuj ghjybrkb lj uke,bys
cthltw. Ghjrjamtd ujdjhbk, xnj ;bpym b ,jhm,f ktybyuhflwtd d eckjdbz[
,kjrfls -- эnj ktutylfhyfz bcnjhbz ve;tcndf, cnjqrjcnb b vfccjdjuj uthjbpvf.
Following Vsevolod Vishnevsky Aleksandr Prokofev spoke. He strode onto the stage
with a con¬dent, ¬rm gait. His ¬rst words went to the depths of the heart.
Prokofev said, that the life and struggle of the citizens of Leningrad under the
conditions of the blockade -- that was a legendary story of courage, resilience, and
massive heroism.

The oxymoronic combination У (for example, Cfif Ghjrjamtd) indicates
that the speaker might personally address the individual with У , but still
gives a more complete identi¬cation of the individual for the addressee.
As noted, there is a high degree of correlation between the mode of ad-
dress and the forms of names. As a rule, formal address in B is correlated
with ˜J, and informal address in is correlated with У . There are excep-
tions, which have distinct sociological overtones. Some members of the intelli-
gentsia use the diminutive name in address (У ) to express familiarity but, at
the same time, maintain respectful distance by using address with B. The com-
bination of with ˜J is possible in a highly speci¬c milieu. One of those who
wrote reminiscences about Prokofev commented, “I considered him a senior col-
league, addressed him with ty, though as Alexander Andreevich”: age merits
the respect of ˜J at the same time as the enforced solidarity of party culture
implies .
Table 4.11 gives a list of name forms, with a statement of their typical mean-
ings and stylistic connotations. By “given” is meant reference to an individual
whose identity is already established in the text; by “introduced” is meant a
process of establishing or introducing an individual in the current text.
Arguments 233

Table 4.11 Names

form example mode, individual, properties / stylistic connotation

У address with or reference to given individual, with
private properties / intimate
˜ reference to given individual as if not an addressee, with
private properties / less intimate than У
address / folk, uncultured (jocular)
J Fylhttdbx
˜J address with B; reference to introduced or given individual /
Fktrcfylh Fylhttdbx
(formal) addressee
У reference to introduced individual / as if intimate addressee
Cfif Ghjrjamtd
˜ reference to introduced individual with open public
Fktrcfylh Ghjrjamtd
properties, episode onset or coda / formal or bureaucratic
˜ reference to introduced individual with public properties,
Fktrcfylh Fylhttdbx
text onset or coda / formal or bureaucratic, pompous
address with or B; reference to given individual with
speci¬c, partial (episodic) properties / neutral

4.6 Demonstrative pronouns

4.6.1 Эnjn
The two demonstrative pronouns of Russian, in one way or another, point
out entities.63 Únjn is p rox i m a l , pointing to something relatively near or
known in the discourse. Nj is d i s t a l , pointing to something less near or
less known, though nj is used in quite speci¬c functions.64 A demonstrative
adopts the gender--number and case of the noun which it modi¬es. A demon-
strative can be used without an explicit head noun, as an argument, and agree
with the intended referent.65 The neuter singular forms ¦nj and nj have devel-
oped specialized uses that go beyond the narrow sense of pointing to a speci¬c
A familiar and basic function of demonstratives is to point to entities that are
present in the speech situation, such as, for example, the coffee pot (called a
in©rf) in [238].

63 Comment. In the literature on reference, the task is often taken to be to describe how “we can iden-
tify an object by means of a referring expression” (Lyons 1977:648); demonstratives are assumed
to differentiate one individual from a set of comparable individuals. This view presumes that
individuals are given and waiting to be pointed to. In fact, a demonstrative creates the individual
for the current discourse; the background from which the individual is selected is not necessarily
a universe of analogous elements. On Russian demonstratives, see Paducheva 1985, Kresin 1994
([242], [243], [244]), Grenoble 1998.
64 Weiss 1988 documents asymmetries in the usage of the two pronouns.
65 On the anaphoric use of demonstratives, see Berger and Weiss 1987; Weiss 1988, 1989.
234 A Reference Grammar of Russian

[238] F rfr hf,jnftn эnf inerf // pyfxbn ye;yj ghjxbo . . . ghjxbobdfnm rf;le/
And how does this thing work // I get it, you have to clean out every hole.

In [238], by using the demonstrative and the minimal class name (in©rf), the
speaker takes an object in the domain of the external reality of the speech situa-
tion and moves it into the domain of speech. Similarly, by using the demonstra-
tive in [239], the speaker brings the article of clothing, which is in the speaker™s
visual ¬eld, into speech:

[239] Ktyrf, f ns эnj gkfnmt d эnjv ujle cibkf bkb d ghjikjv?
Lenka, that dress -- was it this year you sewed it, or last year?

In both [238] and [239], the function of the demonstrative is not so much to
differentiate these speci¬c tokens (this thing or this dress) from other possible


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