Russian linguistics LM (2019/2020)

Course code
Marco Magnani
Teaching is organised as follows:
Unit Credits Academic sector Period Academic staff
часть II (PARTE II) 3 L-LIN/21-SLAVIC STUDIES Sem 1B Giorgia Pomarolli
часть I (PARTE I) 6 L-LIN/21-SLAVIC STUDIES Sem 1A Marco Magnani

Learning outcomes

The course aims at reinforcing the morphological and syntactical knowledge that students have learnt in their previous language courses and at increasing linguistic reflection on the varieties of Russian language. The course is aimed as well at giving students the practical possibility to read, analyze and translate Russian texts representing different varieties of speech. During the course various translation techniques and strategies will be illustrated and used.


(Dr Marco Magnani)

*1st lecture: Monday, 30th September*

It is untrue that in Russian...

– word order is free
1. Information structure: canonical order and marked word orders
2. Constructions with unaccusative and ditransitive verbs, and with pronominal objects
3. Types of topic in Russian and their syntactic encoding
4. Types of focus in Russian and their syntactic encoding
5. Definiteness effects on word order

– subject pronouns can be freely dropped
6. Russian as a partial pro-drop language

– participial constructions can replace all relative clauses
7. Restrictive and appositive relative clauses
8. Some syntactic analyses: the Head Raising Analysis and the Matching Analysis

– two negations exclude one another
9. Negative concord

– verbs ending in '-sja' are all reflexives (vozvratnye)
10. Anticausative, antipassive and intrinsically reflexive constructions

– reflexive pronouns always refer to the grammatical subject of the sentence
11. Simple and complex anaphors
12. Anaphorical co-reference in constructions with control verbs, genitive DPs and possessive PPs

– Uni- and multidirectional motion verbs become aspectual pairs when prefixed
13. Aspect and Aktionsart
14. Prefixation and perfectivization
15. Secondary imperfectivization

(Dr Giorgia Pomarolli)

1. Language as “the spirit of a people”: some insights into Wilhelm von Humboldt’s linguistics of character
2. Linguistic relativity and linguistic determinism: Franz Boas and the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
3. Universalism and relativism in Anna Wierzbicka’s cultural semantics: from semantic primitives to key words of culture; the Russian language: key words and semantic themes
4. Main scholarly fields in contemporary Russian linguistics (the “lingvo- chain”): Lingvostranovedenie, Lingvokul’turologija, Lingvokognitivistika, Lingvokonceptologija, Lingvopersonologija, Etnolingvokul’turologija;
5. Lingvokul’turologija (“Cultural linguistics”): main concepts, subjects of study, approaches and research schools;
6. The notions of (russkaja) jazykovaja kartina mira and konceptosfera;
7. Contrastive lingvokul’turologija and Mežkul’turnaja kommunikacija (“Cross-cultural communication”): a comparison between Russian and English languages;
8. Language and identity: discussion

Assessment methods and criteria

Oral exam (see the pages of Part I and Part II for further details on contents as well as assessment methods and criteria).
The final mark is the weighted average between the mark of Part I and that of Part II.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Whorf B.L. Language, Thought and Reality. Selected Writings MIT Press 1956 selected excerpts indicated by the lecturer
Wierzbicka A. Semantics, Culture and Cognition. Universal Human Concepts in Culture Specific Configurations Oxford University Press 1992 pp. 395-441
Wierzbicka A. Understanding Cultures Through Their Key Words (English, Russian, Polish, German, and Japanese) Oxford University Press 1997 pp. 1-31
Зализняк А.А.; Левонтина И.Б.; Шмелев А.Д. Константы и переменные русской языковой картины мира Языки славянской культуры 2012 selected papers indicated by the lecturer
Тер-Минасова С.Г. Межкультурная коммуникация Изд-во МГУ 2008 selected excerpts indicated by the lecturer
Dyakonova, M. A phase-based approach to Russian free word order Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics 2009 Only the parts indicated by the lecturer
Malchukov, A., Siewierska, A. Impersonal constructions: a cross-linguistic perspective John Benjamins Publishing 2011 pp. 26-42, and pp. 61-74
Casalicchio, J., Cognola F. Null subjects in generative grammar: a synchronic and diachronic perspective OUP 2018 pp. 171-198