Volume 23, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2211-6834
  • E-ISSN: 2211-6842
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In this paper, we provide a survey of the diachronic development of the Russian second genitive (Gen2). As endpoints of this development, we consider data from Russian dialects representing different dialect groups. Assumedly, the expansion of Gen2 started off as ‘recycling’ of the genitive of a declension type that became obsolete already in the pre-written period. Nouns of this declension type were adopted by another declension, carrying their old genitive over as a variant form. This alternative ending started spreading, always as a variant, to other nouns in the adoptive declension. As the survey of the literature shows, in the course of this expansion new constraints evolved, including phonological, morphophonological, phonotactic, syntactic and semantic conditioning. While there is no declension class or even individual nouns where Gen2 became the only option, it expanded to different extents in different dialects. We believe that the diversity of functions associated with the form, the range of language-internal factors driving its expansion, as well as the current geographic distribution of constraints on its formation weaken the claim that emergence of Gen2 as a morphological category dedicated to partitive was due to contact with the languages of the Circumbaltic area, a suggestion made on a macro-areal basis and also based on comparison with the northern dialects alone. While we cannot argue that the data we present disproves the contact factor, we would at least expect that the increased granularity of dialectal data would provide some data to support it. This is not what happens, which we consider to be an argument against contact-induced change.

The aim of the paper is two-fold: to present a synopsis of the discussions of the history of Gen2 and a survey of the data on the use of Gen2 in the dialects, both firsthand and available from the literature; and to question the role of contact in the emergence of the new category of Gen2 in Russian.


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