Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login

New from Cambridge University Press!


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."

E-mail this page

We Have a New Site!

With the help of your donations we have been making good progress on designing and launching our new website! Check it out at!
***We are still in our beta stages for the new site--if you have any feedback, be sure to let us know at***

Dissertation Information

Title: Colloquial Russian Particles -TO, ZHE, and VED' as Set-Generating Add Dissertation
Author: Svetlana McCoy Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Boston University, Linguistics Department
Completed in: 2001
Linguistic Subfield(s): Semantics;
Subject Language(s): Russian
Director(s): Paul Hagstrom
Bruce Fraser
Cathy O'Connor
Enric Vallduvi
Catherine Chvany
Shanley Shanley

Abstract: Linguistic theory has thus far been unable to adequately provide a unifying account of a set of phenomena described as 'emphatic,' 'contrastive,' 'intensifying,' inter alia. In this dissertation three colloquial Russian particles of this type are given a unifying analysis that integrates the theory of 'kontrast' (i.e., the ability of certain linguistic expressions to generate a set; Vallduvm and Vilkuna 1998), cognitive statuses of referents in discourse (Yokoyama 1986, Gundel, Hedberg, and Zacharski 1993), information packaging on the clausal level (Vallduvm 1992), and hierarchical organization of discourse (B|ring 2000).

Using a variety of colloquial Russian texts as naturally occurring data, the particles -to, zhe, and ved' are analyzed as lexemes which mark kontrast ('kontrastive markers,' 'k-markers'). Each particle is described with respect to the type of set it generates and the type of membership within this set, the cognitive status of the referents marked by it, the way its instructions are encoded on the clausal level, and its role in the organization of discourse.

Thus, the kontrastive particle -to marks a set of sets of propositions (equivalently, a set of questions), marks referents known to the hearer but not currently activated in the discourse, is an enclitic to a kontrastive element, usually the 'link/topic,' and generates a discourse tree, the branches of which are 'sisters' dominated by the same question under discussion.

The kontrastive particle zhe marks asset of mutually exclusive propositions (which differ from each other in the value of at least one kontrastive term), one of which is activated in discourse, is an enclitic to the (first phonological word within the) kontrastive element it marks, and refers back to either the established center of discourse or an unresolved question.

The kontrastive particle ved' marks a set of propositions (which have the illocutionary force of assertions), marks information known to the hearer but not activated, is either a proclitic or an enclitic to the kontrastive element within the clause, and relates two propositions in discourse by building a super-question above them.

This analysis can be extended to other discourse markers, semantic operators, and other contrastive linguistic expressions crosslinguistically.