Volume 38, No.2 - Summer 1992
Editor of this issue: Antanas Klimas, University of Rochester 
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 1992 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.

Žuravlev, V.K. Diaxroničeskaja morfologija. Moscow: Nauka. Pp. 208

This book consists of three major chapters: I. The Principles of Diachronic Investigations, II. The Theory of Diachronic Morphonology; III. The Dynamics of Morphological Oppositions and Correlations. In addition there is a conclusion, bibliography, list of languages investigated, a summary and a subject index. Since this book depends heavily on Lithuanian examples, the book may be of interest to readers of Lituanus.

Chapter one contains a short history and description of the notions of 'system' and 'structure' and may perhaps be best compactly resumed by the author's statement (p. 29, my translation): 'Scientific thought of the twentieth century is characterized by the deep realization of the common reciprocal relationships of phenomena, the systematic arrangement of the objects of investigation, a shift of the attention of the investigator from the substance to the structure, to the relationships between material entities. In linguistics this is connected with the birth, development and the spread of the systematic-functional approach to the phenomena of language.'

Chapter two contains a brief historical account of the views of some of the most important scholars engaged in the study of 'analogy', e.g., Baudouin de Courtenay, Delbrück, Bulaxovskij, Mareš, and many others. Finally the author writes (p. 45) that the antinomy between 'phonetic law' and 'analogy' can be removed, if one admits that grammatical analogy is just as regular as phenomena considered as phonetic laws. In this case one can presuppose a formula "morphological law' which is completely identical to the corresponding formula 'phonetic law.' (In the following formulae L = language, a = sound, a,b = sound b, T = given stage of development (time), P = defined position(s), m1 = morpheme 1, m2 = morpheme 2.) The paralellism is established:

Phonetic Law

Morphological Law

L {a > b} T

L {m1 M m2} T

{ P } { P }

In the formula for the phonetic law sound a changes into sound b in certain defined positions P in given language L at the given stage of development T. (The sign > denotes the transformation of one sound into another.) The phonetic law corresponds to the morphological law according to which allomorph m1. is replaced by allomorph m2 in certain defined positions in language L at the given stage of development T. (The sign < denotes the replacement of one allomorph by another.) Thus for example, in the history of Russian the ending -omu was replaced by the isosemantic inflection -am; in Old Russian the masc. dat. pl. (stol)-om u was replaced in modern Russian by (stol)-omu '(to the) tables.' The replacement of -om u by -am took place because at the momment of replacement they were allomorphs, i.e., isosemantic morphemes.

It is usually stated that in the history of the Russian language the ending (stol)-Y 'tables' replaced the nom. pl. ending (stol-)i in the etymological *o-stem nouns. According to Zuralev (p. 47), however, the nom. pl. ending -i and the ending -y is taken rather from the isosemantic *a-stem nom. pl. ending -y were not isosemantic so one would rather say that the new *o-stem nom. pl. ending (gor)-y 'mountains.' A confirmation of this hypothesis is the fact that the dative and instrumental plural *a-stem endings (stol-)am r and (stol-)am i replaced form (stol-)om r and (stol-)y respectively. The intensification of the neutralization of the nominative and the accusative in the given case is undoubtedly connected with the development of the category of animateness.

Žuralev (p. 53) tries to make a principled distinction between analogy which works horizontally among paradigms (such as the above examples where *a-stem cases are spread to etymologically *o-stem nouns) and neutralization according to which inner paradigmatic contrasts are removed, e.g., when the contrast between the genitive and accusative is neutralized in favor of the genitive in the masculine singular and the masculine and feminine plural.

Žuravlev (pp. 58-59) establishes several formulae for formalizing the various kinds of morphological convergence (the elimination of morphological distinctions) and morphological divergence (the creation of morphological distinctions). These are illustrated with examples from the history of the Baltic and the Slavic languages.

For example, in order to describe the convergence of the dual and the plural in the Baltic and Slavic languages (p. 78) Žuravlev gives examples from Slovenian and Lithuanian in both of which the genitive and the locative plural morphemes took over the position of the former dual. In Slovenian one encounters the plural (and dual) forms:

Gen. gora '(of the) mountains,' rakov '(of the) crabs,' mest '(of> the) cities'

Loc. gorah, rakih, mestih, and in Lithuanian:

Gen. dviejų vyrų '(of) two men', liepų 'linden trees,' dienų 'days.'

Loc. dviejuose vyruose, liepose, dienose. In these languages in place of the earlier lack of distinction between the dual genitive and locative (where both were represented by the same morpheme) the distinction between the genitive and locative was introduced.

However, in the Slovenian declension of the personal pronouns the opposition of dual and plural is more or less consistently retained in the genitive and locative:

Gen. Dual naju, vaju, nju/njiju (masc.); ju (neut.) jih (neut.); njih (fem.)

Gen. Pl. nas, vas, njih/jih

Loc. Dual naju, nama vaju, vama njih (masc.)/ njiju (neut.-fem.)

Loc. Pl. nas, vas, njih/jih

Here one can see that in Slovenian the difference between the genitive and the locative cannot be upheld by the introduction of the plural forms into the dual paradigm, because the genitive and locative plural are not distinguished in the plural pronoun. The differentiation between the genitive and locative here is attained by a different means, i.e., at the expense of the neutralization of the contrast of the dual locative vs. the dative/instrumental, in other words the form nama 'us' comes to be the common form for the three cases, locative, dative and instrumental. This is why in Žuravlev's view (p. 79) here the opposition between dual and plural is retained and that the general process of the penetration of plural forms into the dual paradigm is held up.

Next Žuravlev compares the following Lithuanian personal pronoun paradigms:

Gen. Dual mudviejų '(of) us two' judviejų '(of) you two' jųdviejų (of) those two'

Pl. mūsų jūsų jų

Loc. Dual masc. mudviese 'in us two' judviese 'in you two'

juodviese (masc.) 'in those two,' jiedviese (fem.)

 P. mumyse jumyse juose (m.), jose (f.)

In the Lithuanian examples above the contrast of dual vs. plural is realized by the prefixation of the numeral 'two,' in which the contrast of dual vs. plural is neutralized in favor of the plural declension. In Slovenian on the other hand the numeral is affixed to the pronoun only in the nominative forms, thus the plural: mi 'we (masc.); me 'we (fem.),' vi 'you (masc.),' ve 'you (fem.),' oni 'they (masc.), one 'they (fem.),' ona 'they (neut.) vs. the dual: midva, medve, vidva, etc.

Žuravlev writes (p. 79) that the more consistent neutralization of the dual and plural (in favor of the plural morphology) in the Lithuanian and Latvian personal pronouns is to be explained by the earlier penetration of the genitive and locative plural paradigms into the dual in East Baltic and some other phonomorphological factors.

The history of all the Slavic languages bears witness to the fact that the genitive and locative are the weakest in the contrast between the dual and the plural and it is exactly here that the plural inflection penetrates into the dual paradigm first of all.

In Slovenian the contrast between the dual and plural is retained in the dative and the instrumental cases, a position of relevance (Pr):

Dat. Dual lipama 'lindens,' možema 'men,' rakoma 'crabs,' bogatima 'rich,' vsema 'all,' nama 'us'

Pl. lipam, možem, rakom, bogatim, vsem, nam

Instr. Dual lipama, možema, rakoma, bogatima, vsema, nama

Pl. lipami, možmi, raki, bogatimi, vsemi, nami

In the Slovenian examples given above the dual vs. plural contrast is retained at the cost of the retention of the neutralization of the dative vs. instrumental contrast in the dual: lipama, nama = dative = instrumental dual. The dative plural inflectional ending -m is the unmarked member of the opposition in relationship to the dative-instrumental dual inflectional ending -ma. The contrast between the duals lipama, nama vs. the plurals lipami, nami is supported elsewhere in the system by the contrast between the nom. dual raka vs. the nom. pl. raki(p. 80).

Compare then the following Lithuanian examples:

Dat. Dual vyram '(to the) men,' rankom '(to the) hands,' geriem '(to the) good' (masc.), gerom '(to the) good' (fem.), mudviem '(to) us'

Pl. vyrams, rankoms, geriems (masc.), geroms fem.), mums

Instr. Dual vyram, rankom, geriem (masc.) gerom (fem.), mudviem

Pl. vyrais, rankomis, gerais (masc.), geromis (fem.), mumis

Here the situation in general is the same as in Slovenian (although in dialects it is somewhat different): position of relevancy for the dual plural opposition with neutralization of the contrast between dual instrumental vs. dative (vyram is the dat./instr. dual). But in certain Lithuanian accentual classes, differently from Slovenian there is an attempt to keep the dative and the instrumental dual apart on the basis of a difference of intonation both in the adjectives and in the nouns, cf. above for the adjectives and for the nouns one can cite the dat. dual bernám '(to the two) boys' vs. instr. dual bernãm.

Žuravlev writes that in Slovenian the contrast between the dual and the plural has more force in some parts of the system than in others, thus in the personal pronoun of the first and second person and of the third person masculine the contrast is strongest. Certain types of declensions (e.g., lipa, rak, etc.) have a somewhat weaker contrast between dual and plural since the neutralization of dual and plural is noted in the genitive and the locative. The lowest strength of the contrast is to be found in nouns of the type reč 'thing, matter,' ravan 'plain, level country' where the contrast between dual and plural is neutralized in the genitive, locative, nominative and accusative while they are kept apart in the dative and instrumental. Thus in contemporary Slovenian there is observed a gradual lessening of the contrast between dual and plural from position to position, from word to word and from declension to declension (pp. 80-81).

In the Lithuanian literary language of the recent past the contrast between the dual and the plural in general was even less than in contemporary Slovenian. In contemporary Lithuanian, the strength of the contrast between the dual and plural is zero. In late East Baltic, however, the contrast between dual and plural was retained in the dative-instrumental, nominative-accusative and the 1st and 2nd persons of the verb. It was neutralized in the genitive and locative and the third person of the verb (p. 82).

In addition to the material mentioned above Žuravlev applies his theories to the Slavic vocative, to the unification of various nominal paradigms, to the gender correlation, to the loss of case endings and the transition to analytical forms in the Bulgarian noun, and to the Slavic verb.

In his conclusion Žuravlev writes (p. 187) that diachronic morphology was conceived as the result of the extrapolation of the fundamental ideas and concepts of diachronic phonology to the material of historical morphology. It takes as its basis the thesis of Trubetzkoy and Jakobson that not only synchrony, but diachrony too is systematic. (This book is rather a companion piece to Žuravlev's Diaxroničeskaja fonologija [Moscow, 1986] which I reviewed a few years ago [Schmalstieg, 1988].) Grammatical analogy removes anomalies produced by the effects of the laws of phonetic change reducing the variety of morphological expression. But it is necessary to separate morphological analogy from morphological neutralization which operates on the morphological level. Thus in contemporary Russian there is a neutralization of the opposition between the genitive and the accusative case at the same time that there is a retention of the contrast between the nominative and the accusative ([nom.] slon 'elephant' vs. [acc.] slona). Inanimate nouns, however, neutralize the contrast between the nominative and the accusative, whereas they retain the contrast between nominative and genitive ([nom.] okno 'window' vs. (gen.] okna). The neutralization of the correlations of grammatical categories are effected by means of the gradual penetration of word forms from one category into another. The neutralization of the 'dual vs. plural' takes place by means of the penetration of word forms of the plural into the paradigm of the dual (p. 189).

In spite of all of our scientific trappings, as far as I know no linguist has successfully predicted a future stage of a language from his or her knowledge of the present stage. Certainly we are no worse off than other so-called 'social scientists,' who haven't proved themselves to be very good predictors of recent political events. On the other hand, I should like to congratulate Žuravlev on trying to integrate, systematize our knowledge of what has happened in language history.

Apparently, like Žuravlev, I am also convinced that what happens in one area of a language influences what happens elsewhere. In addition I find his parallels between what happened in Slovenian and what happened in Lithuanian very insightful. On the other hand which parallels are telling and which are not is a matter of personal judgment. I personally find Žuravlev's views useful and interesting, but I would not know how to answer a potential critic who might dispute the structural belief that all elements of a language are related to one another. I would, therefore, recommend this book for all those who accept some kind of structural analysis of linguistic phenomena. Žuravlev's accomplishment is to be greatly applauded.

Schmalstieg, William R. 1988. Review of V.K. Žuravlev, Diaxroničeskaja fonologija. General Linguistics 28. 142-148.

William R. Schmalstieg
The Pennsylvania State University