Alternations of Russian

Alternations
Alternation name Description Examples Verbs
U
n An instrument used in a certain transitive action (such as in 'John hit the fence with a stick') and expressed as an adjunct to the related verb becomes the subject of the clause: 'The stick hit the fence'. Thus the former agent of the action is removed and becomes implicit. Some verbs require modification by a prefix in order to participate in this alternation. A different construction involves the instrumental use within an impersonal construction with a suppressed Agent (vodoj zalilo polja [water-INSTR poured fields-ACC] ‘the water poured into the filelds/the filelds filled with water'). Yet, the latter construction is productive with transitive verbs if speaking about uncontrolled force (which might but need not be expressed by an instrumental phrase). 2
C
y The alternation is coded by prefixation on the verb. The location/goal argument is promoted to the direct object position, while the (inanimate) theme argument is demoted and coded as an instrument.
(2)
On zagruzil telegu senom.
on
he
za-gruzil
PFV-loaded
teleg-u
cart-ACC
sen-om
hay-INS
‘He loaded the cart with hay.’
5
C
y The source/counteragent argument, introduced by preposition u (counteragent), or preposition s (inanimate source), is promoted to direct object (the source remains unexpressed).
(7)
On obokral soseda.
on
he
obo-kral
PFV-steal
sosed-a
neighbor-ACC
‘He robbed a neighbor.’
3
C
y When A and O are coreferential, the verb takes a reflexive marker (postfix), while P is not expressed.
(21)
On moetsja.
on
he
moet-sja
wash-REFL
‘He washes himself.’
8
C
y Anticausative use of reflexive -sja. The derived subject is mostly inanimate. Predominantly used in the perfective.
(11)
Palka slomalasʹ.
palka
stick.NOM
s-lomala-s'
PFV-break-REFL
‘The stick broke.’
10
C
y Participial (adjectival) passive is formed by the passive participle in conjunction with a copula. The A argument is expressed by the intrumental case and is optional. It is used only in the perfective aspect; in the imperfective the Reflexive Passive is used instead.
(117)
Dom byl postroen rabočimi.
dom
house.NOM
byl
was
postroen
build.PF.PART
raboč-im-i
worker-INS-PL
‘The house has been built by the workers.’
38
U
n The addressee can be either expressed by the dative case, or alternatively by a comitative phrase (with preposition s governing the Instrumental case).
(66)
On pogovoril s nej o eë rabote.
on
he
pogovori-l
talk.PFV-PST.M.SG
s
with
nej
her.INS
o
about
her
rabote
work.LOC
‘He talked to her about her work.’
1
U
n The Genitive can be used instead of the Accusative for the object argument of some transitive verbs (usually with less individuated/specific objects). This alternation, being lexically restricted, should be distinguished from the use of genitive instead of the accusative under negation (cf. Negative Genitive/Accusative Alternation), as well as from the Accusative-Partitive alternations (narezal xleb/xleb-a [cut bread-ACC/bread-GEN~PART] ‘cut the bread/some of the bread’), which are fairly productive.
(17)
Bojusʹ sobaki.
boju-s'
fear.1SG-REFL
sobak-i
dog-GEN
‘I am afraid of the dog.’
2
C
y The reflexive form -sja on the verb leads to reciprocal meaning when the subject is plural. The subject can alternatively be expressed in a comitative or coordinate construction.
(16)
Oni vstretilisʹ.
oni
they
vstreti-l-i-s'
meet-PST-PL-REFL
‘They met.’
3
U
n In the derived frame, the direct object is not expressed overtly.
Object deletion (omission) is possible with indefinite/generic objects of some verbs (in habitual contexts).
(105)
On el každyj den' v šest' časov.
on
he
el
ate
každyj
every
den'
day
v
at
šest'
six
časov
o_clock
‘He ate at six o'clock every day.’
2
U
n Introduces a new argument which is a cognate object to the verb meaning, usually for the purpose of object modification. The cognate object can be in the accusative or the instrumental case. Verbs marked as "Regular" permit both, while those marked "Marginal" only allow for the instrumental.
(24)
On poët pesnju.
on
he
poët
sing.PRS.3SG
pesn-ju
song-ACC
‘He is singing a song.’
3
C
y Russian uses the reflexive marker (postfix) -sja to express Middle transformation. Similar to the English example, the Middle requires a modification by means of an (evaluative) adverb. Unlike with the analogous Middle Alternation for intransitive verbs, the original subject cannot be expressed in the derived form (cf. Reflexive Middle (impersonal)). Unlike a syntactically similar anticausative alternation, the middle alternation is used (only) with imperfective verbs and applies to a broader set of verbs than the anticausative one.
(107)
Èta tkanʹ legko rvëtsja.
èta
this.F
tkanʹ
cloth.F
legko
easily
rvët-sja
tear.PRS.3SG-REFL
‘This cloth tears easily.’
8
C
y Reflexive Passive is used instead of the Participial Passive in the imperfective aspect. As in the Participial Passive, the A (if at all expressed) is demoted and appears in the Instrumental case.
(123)
Každoe utro kanistra napolnjaetsja vodoj.
každoe
each
utro
morning
kanistra
canister
napolnjaet-sja
fill.IPFV.PRS.3SG-REFL
vod-oj
water-INS
‘Every morning the canister is filled with water.’
20
U
n The alternation occurs only in the context of negation. The direct object of most verbs can be marked with the Accusative as well as the Genitive case in negated clauses. This alternation usually occurs with verbs in the imperfective aspect and taking a non-referential object.
(115)
On ne znal zabot.
on
he
ne
NEG
zna-l
know-PST.M.SG
zabot
problem.PL.GEN
‘He did not know (any) problems.’
36
C
y The reflexive marker -sja is used to code the Middle transformation. In the derived impersonal construction, the subject of the basic version optionally occurs as a dative argument. It often occurs in the context of negation or with a modification by means of an (evaluative) adverb. The middle alternation is used (only) in imperfective.
(120)
Emu ne sidelos'.
emu
he.DAT
ne
NEG
side-l-o-s'
sit-PST-3SG.N-REFL
‘He could barely sit still. (lit. It didn't sit itself to him).’
8