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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: The Syntax and Processing of Scrambling Constructions in Russian Add Dissertation
Author: Irina Sekerina Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: City University of New York, Linguistics Program
Completed in: 1997
Linguistic Subfield(s): Psycholinguistics; Syntax;
Subject Language(s): Russian
Director(s): Janet Fodor
Lyn Frazier
Robert Fiengo
Dianne Bradley

Abstract: The dissertation examines word order variation in Russian due to Scrambling, which I take to be an instance of overt syntactic movement. I investigate two major types of Scrambling in Russian, clause-internal XP-Scrambling and Split Scrambling, from the point of view of syntactic structure, focus structure as related to discourse, and sentence processing.

Applying standard syntactic tests I identify grammatical characteristics of XP-Scrambling in Russian and argue that it is a mixed A'/A-movement phenomenon as observed in other scrambling languages. Two language-specific parameter values are proposed: In Russian, both VP-and IP-adjunctions serve as landing sites, and Scrambling can proceed both leftward and rightward. Split Scrambling in Russian produces discontinuous DPs (and PPs), i.e., phrases in which an adjective is not string-adjacent to the head noun it modifies. Split Scrambling in Russian obeys three additional constraints, the Periphery Constraint, the One-Split-Per-Clause Constraint, and the Preposition-First Constraint. If these are syntactic constraints, they motivate a Double-Movement analysis according to which first a DP (PP) is XP-scrambled into SPEC, F(ocus)P, and then N' (or A') is extracted out of it and is right-adjoined to FP. Two additional parameter values are proposed: the remnant does not stay in situ, and the extracted element can be of the category Y'. I propose that both types of Scrambling in Russian are obligatory in the sense that they are driven by Focus requirements, which are reflected also in stress assignment.

In four experiments reported here, I examine the applicability of two proposed universals of the Garden-Path model of sentence processing, the Minimal Chain Principle and the Minimal Revisions Principle, to processing of Russian scrambling constructions, and also test the Scrambling Complexity Hypothesis. The experimental findings provide evidence for the complexity of standard XP-Scrambling relative to canonical SVO word order, and even greater complexity of Split Scrambling compared to XP-Scrambling, as reflected in increased reading times for split-scrambled sentences in self-paced reading. These results are consistent with the principles of the Garden-Path theory and support the Scrambling COmplexity Hypothesis. The possibility of processing origin for the One-Split-Per-Clause Constraint and the Periphery Constraint is considered. For the former it is plausible; for the latter the experimental data tell against it.