You are on page 1of 21

BasicPrinciplesofRussian

NounStress
WithaShortAddendumonVerbs

Russianstresstypescanoftenlookcomplicated
andhardtoremember.
Iwouldliketopresentthestresstypesinanew
way.
ThevastmajorityofRussianwordshasconstant
stressonafixedsyllableinallofitsforms.For
thesewords,youjusthavetorememberwhere
thestressis.
CalledtypeA,e.g.,,.
Canalsobecalledlexicalstress:aword(lexical
item)determineswherethestressisinallits
forms.

MoretroublesometypesofRussianstress:accent
isnotonthesamestemsyllableinallforms.
Grammaticalormorphologicalstress:
grammaticalpositionsdeterminestress.
WewillconcentrateonRussiannounstressand
lookatthesingularandpluralpatternsasseparate
units,sincethatshowsthesystembetter.
Singularandpluralformstogetherareknownas
theparadigm.Singularorpluralformsaloneare
subparadigms.
Twobasictypesofmorphologicalstress:typeB
and typeC.

TypesBandCeachhavetwopossiblestress
positions:
1.TypeBcanstresseithertheendingorthestem
finalsyllable.
2.TypeC canstresseithertheendingortheword
initialsyllable.
RecallingthattypeA canstressanystemsyllable,
hereisadiagramcomparingallthree:
A:#_______....#

B:#.........____#C:#__.........__#

Herearesomeexamplesshowingthesestress
positions.FortypesBandC,theexamplesare
showneitherinthesingularorpluralsubparadigm:
1.ExamplesforA ondifferentstemsyllables:,
,
2.ExamplesforB onendingandstemfinal:
/;/
3.ExamplesforC onendingandinitial:/;
/;/

TypesBandCeachcanhavetwosubtypes.TypeB
subtypesdependonthegenitivecaseending,
whiletypeC subtypesdependonthenominative
caseending.
LetusstartwithrulesandexamplesfortypeB.
Type B Stress Pattern Rules
Applies to: Both Singular and Applies to: Plural only.
Plural
Genitive = Non-zero
Genitive = Zero
Result: End-stress in entire
Result: Stem-final stress in
subparadigm
entire subparadigm

TheB subtypesaregenitivecaseendinginazeroor
somethingelse(nonzero).Inthesingular,thereis
onlythenonzerogenitive.
Rule:ifthetypeBgenitiveiszero,all
subparadigmatic formsstressstemfinal;ifnonzero,
theystresstheending.

ExamplesoftypeBsubparadigms withnonzero
genitiveandendstress:
Sinceallgenitivesingularendingsarenonzero,
allsingularBstressisendstress.
N
A
G
L
D
I

Nowconsiderthesamenounsintheplural,where
thefirstnounalsohasanonzerogenitiveplural,like
itsgenitivesingular.However,theothertwonouns
havezerogenitiveplurals,whichcausesthemtohave
stemfinalstressintheentirepluralsubparadigm,as
follows:
N
A
G
L
D
I

NotethatatypeBnounhasthesamestress
throughouteachsubparadigm (eitherstem
finalorendstress).TypeC differsinthatitcan
haveasinglecaseformthatdiffersfromallthe
othercasesofitssubparadigm (e.g.).
hissingleopposedformalwayshasahigh
vowelending(/i/or/u/)andalwaysaffects
eitherthemostcentralnominative/accusative
(direct)casesortheleastcentrallocative2.

ThetwoC subtypesdependonwhetherthenominative
caseendingisaMid/Zero typeoraHigh/Lowvowel
typeending:
1.highorlowvowel/i/,/a/ (High/Lowtype)
2.midorzerovowel(Mid/type)
Type C Stress Pattern Rules
Nominative = Mid/Zero
Nominative = High/Low
Applies to: Singular only.
Applies to: Both Singular and
Plural.
Result: Initial stress in subparadigm, Result: End-stress in subparadigm,
except for:
except for:
end-stress in high-vowel locative
initial stress in high-vowel
(Locative-2).
nom./acc. (direct case).
Single opposed form: high-vowel
Single opposed form: high vowel
locative
nom./acc.

LetusexaminetherangeoftypeC singularsubparadigms.Both
high/lowandmid/nominativescanoccurhere,yielding
primarilyinitialstressandendstress.
Thefirstfourexamplesinthetablehavezeronominativesand
endstressonlyonhighvowellocatives(iftheyoccur).Mid
vowelnominative()issimilar.
representsthehigh/lowclass,withmainlyendstress,
exceptforadirectcase inahighvowel.Opposedformsbolded.
N
A
G
L
D
I
L2

-------

-------

-------

-------

Pluralofthenounsshownabove.Onlythehigh/lowtypesof
nominativescanoccurinthetypeCpluralandnohighvowel
locativeispossible.Patternisendstress,exceptfordirectcases
(nom./acc.)withhighvowelending/i/. Opposedformsarein
bold.
N
A
G
L
D
I

InadditiontothepuretypeBandCtypesshown,there
aremixedtypes,withtypeBsingularandtypeCplural,
orviceversa.Thus,theentireregularstressinventoryfor
Russiannounsconsistsoffivetypes:
1.TypeA lexicalstresswithconstantstressinallforms.
2.TypeB inbothsingularandplural.
3.TypeCinbothsingularandplural.
4.MixedBC,withB insingularandC inplural.
5.MixedCB,withC insingularandBinplural.
BC examples:,,
CB examples: ,,

In thecaseofaBCnoun,thegenitiveformwould
determinethestressinthesingular,whilethe
nominativewoulddosointheplural.Forexample,
actslikeaB,withendstress,inthesingular
();but,likeaC,withmobilestress,intheplural
(,,).
Forreference,examplesofallthemajortypesare
shownonthefollowingtable.Thepuretypesare
listedasAA,BB,CC,toshowthatbothsingularand
pluralsubparadigms followthesamepattern,in
contrasttoBC andCB types.

Basic Inventory of Nominal Stress Types in the Main Russian Declensions


Nominative in Zero

Nominative in -a

Nominative in -o

,
,
,

AA
BB
CC
BC
CB

AA
BB
CC
BC
CB

AA
BB
CC
BC
CB

Italsoshouldbenotedthattherearesomeexceptionalgroupsthat
dontfitthismodel.Oneofthemainonesisagroupofloanwords,
largelyfromCaucasian,CentralAsian,andOldChurchSlavonic
sources,whichhavetypeBendstressedplurals,inspiteoftheir
zerogenitivepluralsandexpectedstemfinalstress.E.g.;
plural,notexpected*.

Aquickglanceathowverbstressworks:
Presenttenseverbstressismuchsimplerthannounstress.TherolesofB
andCarereversed.
Innouns,typeC(initial~end)wasmobile,butforverbstypeBismobile
(stemfinal~end) andtypeChasconstantendstress,akindofrolereversal.
TypeBendstressisconditionedbyanendinginavowel( ,,
;but withstemfinalandanendinginaconsonant).

Inthepasttense,thereisnodifferencebetweenstresstypesB
andC,sincethepastisconsideredaderivedform,andBandC
mergewhenderived.
Acombinationofstemsizeandstemtypeallowsustopredict
B/Cmergedpasttensestressinalmostallcases.Hereisatable
thatshowstherules:

ThatendsoursurveyofRussianstress.Dueto
thelargenumberofdetails,ittakesmany
hoursofstudytomasterthesystem.
Ihopethisgaveyousomeideaofwhatthe
systemlookslike.