left-right asymmetry: some Russian data

Elena Maslova Lena at LH.BICOS.DE
Sun Mar 8 16:12:33 UTC 1998

In response to Bingfu Lu's query (information from a native speaker
of Russian).

I have not much to say about left-right assymetries you are
concerned with, so what follows is just some data from Russian.

First, NPs. It does not seem that Russian gives clearer examples
than Spanish. Nevertheless, here are Russian (approximate)
translations of your Spanish examples:

a.	pervaja horoshaja glava
	first good chapter (the first chapter which is good (> there were
previous chapters which were not good, so this one is in fact not
"the first").
b.	horoshaja pervaja glava
	good first chapter (in this book, the first chapter is good)
c.	glava pervaja
	chapter first (quite possible and, conventionally, preferred in
formal style).
d,	*glava horoshaja (pretty good as a clause (The chapter is good)
but not as NP:

a.	Glava pervaja posvjaschena porjadku slov
	Chapter first is.devoted.	to.order	words(gen)
b.	*Glava horoshaja posvjaschena porjadku slov
	Chapter good (_."_)

I could think of a situation where "glava pervaja horoshaja" might
occur, but this would be an extremely marked one (and probably with
a sort of intonation gap between the adjectives; as for "glava
horoshaja pervaja (chapter good first), this seems just impossible.

A determiner can be only preposed (eta glava "this chapter"); eta
pervaja glava (this first chapter), eta horoshaja glava (this good
chapter) are possible but a little bit strange, the latter more
strange than the former. "eta glava pervaja" (first) is more
strange, but seems still possible, "eta glava horoshaja" as an NP,

a.	ego prijatnyje drugzja
	his likeable friends

b.	prjatnyje ego druzja
	likeable his friends (marked, but possible, at least in some

c.	(eti) prijatnyje druzja ego (the same as b.)
	(these) likeable friends his

d.	(eti) druzja ego prijatnyje (more marked then b., c., possible
(as an NP) in a pragmatic situation where what is meant is that the
friends in question are clearly not likeable).

To sum up: when the dependents are preposed (which is the unmarked
option), there is a clearly preferred order. When they are
postposed the order is so marked, that the "internal" variations
have little impact. (An exception is "Glava pervaja" (Chapter
first) which is not marked at all, but this is due to formal style
conventions). It is my impression that a factor which "blocks"
postposing of adjectives is the possibility of "zero copula" (so
that the default interpretation of the combination "noun +
adjective" is predicative (N is A)).

Secondly, Russian translations of the sentences from your first

(1) a. He drove his car slowly.
	On vjol mashinu medlenno
	he drove car	slowly
	??? On vjol medlenno mashinu
	On medlenno vjol mashinu (pretty good)
	On mashinu vjol medlenno (less good)
	?? On mashinu medlenno vjol
	?? On medlenno mashinu vjol
	Mashinu on vjol medlenno
	Medlenno vjol on mashinu (styl. marked)

      b. He drives his car slowly.
	On vodit mashinu medlenno
	On vodit medlenno mashinu (possible, if what follows is something
like "but otherwise he is rather careless").
	On medlenno vodit mashinu (OK)
	On mashinu vodit medlenno (OK)
	On mashinu medlenno vodit (OK)
	On medlenno mashinu vodit (a little bit less OK)

      c. He is driving his car slowly.
	On vedet mashinu medlenno
	On vedet medlenno mashinu (???)
	On medlenno vedet mashinu
	On mashinu medlenno vedet (???)
	On medlenno mashinu vedet (?? or even *)

In sum, I could easily imagine that either variant (including those
marked by question marks) may occur, under appropriate pragmatic
conditions, especially in spoken Russian.

(2) He made fun of me three times.
	On podshutil nado mnoj tri raza.
	He made.fun	of	me(OBL)	three times
	On podshutil tri raza nado mnoj (i vsego raz nad toboj)
	He made.fun three times of me (and only once of you)
	On tri raza nado mnoj podshutil
	On nado mnoj tri raza podshutil
	On nado mnoj podshutil tri raza
	On tri raza podshutil nado mnoj

(All variants are OK).
(3)  He gave me gifts three times.
	On daril mne podarki tri raza
	On daril mne tri raza podarki (more marked)
	On daril podarki mne tri raza (a tebe vsego raz)
	He gave.gifts	gifts to.me three times (but to.you only once).
	?? On daril tri raza podarki mne.
	(Other combinations seem also possible but strongly "marked"
stylicstically or pragmatically)

	On mne tri raza podarki daril.
	On podarki mne tri raza daril
	On tri raza mne podarki daril
	On mne podarki tri raza daril
	On podarki tri raza mne daril
	On tri raza podarki mne daril (So: All six theoretically possible
combinations are OK).

	On mne tri raza daril podarki.
	On tri raza mne daril podarki
	On tri raza podarki daril mne (a ne tebe) (to me and not to you)
	On podarki tri raza daril mne (the same contrastive context
	On podarki mne daril tri raza
	On mne podarki daril tri raza


(4) He walked slowly with a stick in the garden for three hours

On vchera guljal v sadu tri chasa s palkoj.
He yesterday walked in garden three hours with stick.

(this variant seems most neutral to me, but I guess, if some word
order variations in this case are impossible, this is an exception.
most of them would be OK under appropriate pragmatic conditions,

On medlenno guljal vchera tri chasa v sadu s palkoj
He slowly walked yesterday three hours in garden with stick

Medlenno guljal on s palkoj v sadu vchera, etc. etc. (I feel there
are two many adverbials to make the sentence quite appropriate in
any situation, but this has nothing to do with word order syntax).

Hopefully, this might help you,

All the best,

Lena Maslova

Elena Maslova
University of Bielefeld
lena at lh.bicos.de

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list