Using corpus data for a semantic analysis of Russian converbs
Maria Filiouchkina Krave
Tuesday 5 April, 14.15 pm; room 489 PAM
In this talk, I want to present some highlights from my doctoral thesis. The study has focused on the interpretation of Russian converb constructions – nonfinite verb forms used for adverbial subordination (e.g. Čut’ podumav, on otvetil... ‘Having thought a little, he replied...’). It is argued that two basic temporal meanings are expressed by Russian converbs – the relative past (anteriority) of perfective converbs and the relative present (simultaneity) of imperfective converbs. Using a formal semantic framework, I show how the morphological features of converbs contribute to the temporal interpretation of converb sentences. The empirical part of the analysis can be divided into three parts, based on the type of data analysed:
(i) Russian fiction texts (source texts) from the RuN corpus. The data show that the position of the converb clause with respect to the matrix clause as well as presence of certain temporal (frame) adverbials affect the temporal interpretation of such sentences, e.g. resulting in a posteriority reading of perfective converbs.
(ii) Russian source texts and their English and Norwegian correspondences in the RuN corpus. This contrastive analysis shows which patterns correspond to converbs in the target data. The following factors are shown to play an important role in the interpretation: e.g. the aspectual form of the converb, lexical aspect of the converb construction (and the matrix verb), logical relations between different kinds of events, discourse relations.
(iii) Written film renarrations produced by advanced Norwegian learners of Russian vs. native speakers of Russian and Norwegian. This small-scale study examines which features of converbs are particularly challenging for learners of Russian.