Structure and Stress in the Phonology of Russian

J. L. Melvold, 1990

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This thesis investigates the interaction between phonology and morphology in the stress system of Russian.  Russian has an accent-based stress system, in which morphemes are characterized by two accentual properties: [+/-accented, +/-dominant].  Dominant morphemes trigger deaccentuation of the stem to which they attach.

Words surface with one stress, regardless of whether they contain zero or several lexically accented morphemes.  I show that the stress rule in Russian applies cyclically, assigning stress to the leftmost accented vowel.  Words with accented roots have stress fixed on the root.  In the inflectional paradigm of words with unaccented roots, stress alternates between the initial and final vowels, depending on the accentual property of the inflectional suffix.  I refer to this as mobile stress.

In Chapter One I observe an important correlation between stress and the derivational status of words.  The generalization is the following: mobile stress occurs only in nonderived words or words derived from a nonsyllabic derivational suffix.  To account for this fact, I show that it is crucial to assume not only that the stress rule is cyclic, but that all suffixes are cyclic.  My analysis poses a challenge to theories which argue that morphemes which delete previously assigned metrical structure are necessarily cyclic while those which preserve previously assigned structure are noncyclic.

I adopt the framework of autosegmental phonology, whereby segmental, syllabification, and metrical processes operate on independent places linked to a series of timing slots.  Since vowels are the only stressable elements in Russian, they are the only elements represented on the stres plane.  This allows us to explain the fact that a nonsyllabic morpheme which triggers a cyclic rule on the segmental place fails to trigger the cyclic stress rule, which operates on the stress plane.

In Chapter Two I introduce a class of apparent counterexamples to the claim that mobile stress can only occur in words derived from a nonsyllabic suffix.  All of the problematic cases involve morphemes which exhibit vowel-zero alternations.  I argue that these morphemes contain abstract vowels which consist of a floating feature matrix.  Futheremore, I present both segmental and metrical evidence to show that there are three distinct abstract vowels in Russian.  They have the representations (where f = [-hi, -lo, +/-bk]):


                                                (i)                     (ii)                    (iii)

Syllable plane:                                                   N                     N

                                                                         |                      |

Skeleton:                                                          X                     X

Segmental plane:                                               f                      f

Chapter Three addresses certain complexities in the adjectival system, which involve rules of post-accentuation and retraction.

Verbs exhibit stress alternations not found among other lexical categories.  These alternations result from vowel sequences which are unique to derived verb stems.  In Chapter Four, I show that stress assignment in these verbs involves a complex interaction between the stress rule, syllabification, and vowel truncation rules.

The thesis thus provides strong evidence for current theories of abstract elements in phonology, and suggest a different view of cyclicity than the one recently proposed by Halle and Vergnaud (1987) and Halle and Kenstowicz (1989).  These authors have argued that only the dominant (stress-deleting) morphemes are cyclic.  This thesis shows that both dominant and nondominant morphemes constitute cyclic domains, but the structural properties of a morpheme may prevent application of a cyclic rule on a particular plane.

Thesis Supervisor:         Morris Halle

Table of Contents

Chapter 1         Cyclicity and stress in Russian                                                   12

            1.1       Introduction                                                                                          12

            1.2       Lexical accent and stress assignment                                                     13

                        1.2.1    Patterns of nominal stress                                                          13

                        1.2.2    Russian declension                                                                    15

                        1.2.3    The basic accentuation principle (BAP)                         16

                           Post-accentuation                                                         22

                           Two minor stress patterns: retraction in nouns with         26

unaccented roots

                        1.2.4    Summary                                                                                  28

            1.3       Vowel-zero alternations, null inflections, and the Yers                29

            1.4       Formal representation of stress                                                  37

            1.5       Dominance, cyclicity, and stress assignment in derived nouns     48

                        1.5.1    Introduction                                                                              48

                        1.5.2    The nonderived noun generalization                                           48

                        1.5.3    [-Accented, -dominant] derivational suffixes                              50

                           Dominance, cyclicity and the nonderived noun

                                                generalization                                                                58

                           Level-ordering and the relation between

morphological and phonological processes                    60

                           Stress assignment and the strict cycle condition  64

                        1.5.4    [+Accented, -dominant] derivational suffixes                 65

                        1.5.5    [+Accented, +dominant] derivational suffixes                 70

                        1.5.6    [-Accented, +dominant] derivational suffixes                 75

            1.6       Nonsyllabic suffixes and the strict cycle condition: stress

assignment in nonderived verbs                                                 78

1.6.1    Introduction                                                                              78

1.6.2    Verbal inflection                                                                        79

1.6.3    Data: stress patterns of nonderived (athematic) verbs     79

1.6.4    Morphological composition of the present tense 1st sg and

            3rd pl                                                                                       83

1.6.5    The nonsyllabic suffix l                                                  90

            1.7       Summary                                                                                              93

            1.8       Appendix A      Mobile stress paradigms                                               94

            1.9       Appendix B      Exceptional stress in a small class of loan words            96

Notes Chapter 1                                                                                                           98

Chapter 2         Abstract vowels in Russian                                                                    112

            2.1       Introduction                                                                                          112

            2.2       Mobile stress in derived short-form adjectives                           117

                        2.2.1    The problem                                                                             117

                        2.2.2    Data                                                                                         119

            2.3       An autosegmental analysis of the Yers: background                               121

            2.4       A floating feature segment in Russian                                         125

                        2.4.1    The adjectival suffix "l                                                   135

                        2.4.2    Summary                                                                                  136

            2.5       A segmentally unspecified syllabic Yer                                       137

                        2.5.1    Introduction                                                                              137

                        2.5.2    Data                                                                                         139

                        2.5.3    Metrical and segmental evidence                                               140

                           Default features                                                 144

                        2.5.4    Further evidence for an X-Yer                                      146

                        2.5.5    Summary                                                                                  154

            2.6       A third type of Yer                                                                               155

                        2.6.1    The accentual property of the diminutive suffix Ek                      158

                        2.6.2    The feminine diminutive suffix Ek                                               164

                        2.6.3    The suffix Ec                                                                             167

            2.7       Summary                                                                                              172

Notes Chapter 2                                                                                                           175

Chapter 3         Adjectival stress                                                                                   181

            3.1       Introduction                                                                                          181

            3.2       Short form adjectival stress                                                                   183

            3.3       Stress in nonderived long form adjectives                                              188

            3.4       Co-occuring patterns of short and long form stress                                190

            3.5       Stress assignment in derived adjectives                                      196

                        3.5.1    Introduction                                                                              196

                        3.5.2    Adjectives derived with the suffixes at and ast                197

                        3.5.3    Post-accentuation and the adjectival suffixes ist and liv   198

            3.6       Stress and the adjectival suffix ov                                                          204

            3.7       Appendix: adjectives derived with the suffix ov                          212

Notes Chapter 3                                                                                                           215

Chapter 4         Vowel truncation, syllabification, and verbal stress                                 223

            4.1       Introduction                                                                                          223

            4.2       Verbal inflection                                                                                    223

            4.3       Underlying vowel inventory of Russian                                       227

            4.4       Review of stress in nonderived (athematic) verbs                                   227

            4.5       The problem of alternating stress in derived verbs                                  233

                        4.5.1    Introduction                                                                              233

                        4.5.2    Data: thematic verb stems                                                         236

                        4.5.3    The accentual properties of theme vowel suffixes                       240

            4.6       Glide formation and accent shift                                                 242

                        4.6.1    Thematic verbs                                                             242

                        4.6.2    Further evidence: verbs with the suffix ova                                 258

                        4.6.3    Summary                                                                                  266

            4.7       Vowel deletion and accent shift                                                 267

                        4.7.1    Thematic verb stems ending in a [-lo] vowel                              267

                           The underyling form of the 3rd pl agreement suffix         277

                        4.7.2    Post-accentuation in thematic verbs                                           280

                        4.7.3    Appendix: nonderived nouns and adjectives related to

                                    thematic verbs in "i and "e with stress pattern (iii)                      288

                        4.7.4    Post-accentuation and retraction: stress pattern (iv)                    290

            4.8       Other verbal suffixes                                                                             295

                        4.8.1    Introduction                                                                              295

                        4.8.2    The suffix aj                                                                              295

                        4.8.3    The suffix nu                                                                             296

                        4.8.4    Verbs derived with the suffix ej                                     298

            4.9       Bracketing paradoxes, cyclicity, and stress in prefixed nonderived

                        verbs                                                                                                    299

            4.10     Summary                                                                                              306

Notes Chapter 4                                                                                                           309