The position in the utterance and the melodic realisation of object and reflexive pronouns in classical modern literary Russian

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The numerous studies on word order and intonation in modern Russian have primarily focused on the “weightiest” elements in the utterance, appearing to almost systematically ignore the pronouns. Yet these are among the most common words in a language. The absence of rules governing their use, in a language in which word order, though unfixed, is in no way arbitrary, poses a serious problem for the non-native speaker. By focusing on the position of object and reflexive pronouns, the current study aims to respond to this absence of critical work by presenting, in the light of the metainformative theory of centres of attention, the criteria which determine the enunciator’s choice of a particular word order and prosodic realisation. We generally distinguish two groups of pronouns complements (differentiated only by the prosodic criteria in modern Russian, though they are also morphologically distinct in Old Russian.) In place of this traditional binary opposition (tonic pronouns versus atonic pronouns) which has limited practical use, the current study proposes a more precise opposition of three types of expressed pronouns – stressed, tonic and atonic – to which must be added elliptical pronouns, particularly common in Russian. This new distinction allows a more nuanced analysis of utterances, which in turn renders it possible to prove the degree to which pragmatic strategy, word order, intonational curve and the tonic of the latter are closely linked in modern lliterary Russian.


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