loss of inflection

Ursula Doleschal urs at ISIS.WU-WIEN.AC.AT
Mon May 11 17:01:44 UTC 1998

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>From MAILER-DAEMON Sun May 10 15:32:31 MES 1998
Message-Id: <199805101332.JAA26974 at linguist.ldc.upenn.edu>
Date:         Sun, 10 May 1998 09:32:38 -0400
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I have a question concerning indeclinability resp. unproductivity of
inflectional classes:

In modern Russian a whole group of words (place names) have recently
become indeclinable. The toponyms in question are derived by the native
suffixes -ino and -ovo/-evo, examples would be: Peredelkino, Sheremt'evo,
Kon'kovo. These nouns should be declined as all neuters ending in -o, one
of the 4 (or 5) declensions of modern Russian (type" okno" or 1
declension neuter type according to the Academy grammar). But usually they
are not, so that one would say "blizhe k Peredelkino" instead of "k
Peredelkinu", "rjadom s Kon'kovo" instead of "s Kon'kovom" etc. All cases
are concerned.

This process is in line with the almost complete unproductivity of the
declensional class in question, as can be seen by the fact that  for a
long time foreign words have
to be assigned to this declension (as kino or metro).

 Now, what I find puzzling is that in such a case words "leaving" one
declension usually change to another, more productive class. The class in
question would be the one of (mostly) feminine nouns edning in -a (lampa
or 2 declension), since because of the reduction of unaccented /o/ the
latter is pronounced identically as /a/ (akanje). In fact such a change of
declension has been observed for common nouns in non-standard varieties of
Russion (mjaso > s mjasoj, vederko > s vederkoj). But it does not happen
to the toponyms in question.

Arethere similar cases in other languages, where
the inflectional system as a whole remains intact, but some words which
have formerly been inflected just "fall out"?

Thanks in advance,
Ursula Doleschal
Inst. f. slawische Sprachen
WU Wien

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