Short term morphosyntactic change

Green (1979) - STMC bibliography


Green B. D. 1979. Factors in the choice of the case of direct objects after negated transitive verbs in Russian. Slavonic and East European Review, 57, No 2, 161 – 186.


Green analyzes the variation between the genitive and accusative in direct objects of negated transitive verbs, as in (1):

(1)   Ja  ne  čitaju  gazet-y / gazet
  I not read newspaper-PL.ACC / newspaper[PL.GEN]
  ‘I do not read newspapers.’

The frequency of accusative and genitive objects after negated verbs is analyzed separately in written and spoken texts. Green analyzes both samples with respect to the same set of factors; however due to the small size of the corpus, some of the factors are presented by a relatively small number of instances. The following factors apply to 25 or more examples from the entire corpus:

  • verb aspect
  • whether the verb is a gerund or participle
  • the verb’s lexico-semantic class (e. g., verba sentiendi)
  • gender of the noun object
  • number of the noun object
  • indirect negation
  • intensive negation
  • inversion (object – verb word order).

The following factors are found in less than 25 instances (less than the minimum acceptable level of statistical reliability accepted by the author):

  • verb mood
  • particular lexico-semantic classes of verbs
  • various types of pronouns as objects
  • particular lexico-semantic classes of nouns (such as body parts, collectives, etc.)
  • animate nouns
  • substantivized adjectives as objects
  • various adverbial sequences
  • double negation
  • negated direct object with predicate instrumental.

The author briefly reviews factors presented by a small number of examples and gives detailed consideration to those presented by statistically reliable data. Drawing on the statistical analysis, the author contrasts the two samples (written and spoken) and shows that the overall frequency of the accusative (29.1%, which is very close to the figure provided by other authors) masks the sharp difference between the frequency of the accusative in written texts (20.7%) and spoken texts (41.8%). Green’s data reveal different effects that certain factors have on written and spoken language. Thus, while accusative objects in the written language are much more frequent with perfective than with imperfective verbs, in the spoken language verb aspect has no measurable effect on case assignment.

Texts investigated

Corpus of Contemporary Russian Language Analysis Project ( University of Essex), 200,000 words. The corpus includes 546 sentences, which contain a negated transitive verb with a direct object. 240 sentences were excluded because a particular case form is obligatory. 122 sentences were elicited from spoken texts, 184 from written texts.


Statistics of genitive/accusative objects with negated verbs are given for each of the conditions that allow variation in case, provided it is represented by more than 25 sentences. Statistics for spoken and written texts are calculated separately. Raw figures are provided for each factor under consideration.

Which data from the source were used

Statistics for factors presented by 25 examples or more are presented in the database in their entirety.

Project members

Prof Greville G. Corbett
Dr Matthew Baerman
Dr Dunstan Brown
Dr Alexander Krasovitsky
Dr Alison Long

Period of award:

September 2004 - May 2008


Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) - RG/AN4375/APN18306