On the evolution of Russian subject reference
Personal pronouns in Russian have replaced verbal inflection forms as the main reduced referential devices marking subject. Some possible internal scenarios of this process are examined, namely the present perfect reconstruction in Old Russian and the semantic similarity between Old Russian present nominal clauses and present verbal ones. Further testing of both hypotheses is based on the detailed chronological survey on 50 Old Russian texts (about 2000 relevant verbal clauses) from the 11th till the 17th century with the help of statistical methods (Student’s t-test and Lilliefors test). The diachronic study of Old Russian documents disproves the hypothesis of initial perfect tense destruction but admits the possibility of semantic factors as a trigger to the subject reference alternation.