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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Form and function of expressive morphology: a case study of Russian Steriopolo, Olga


In this thesis, I conduct a detailed case study of expressive suffixes in Russian. I show that although the suffixes under investigation have the same function (“expressive”), they differ significantly in their formal properties. I identify two major semantic types of expressive suffixes: attitude and size suffixes. Attitude suffixes convey an attitude of the speaker toward the referent. Size suffixes both convey an attitude and refer to the size of the referent. I argue that the two different semantic types map onto different syntactic types. Attitude suffixes are syntactic heads, while size suffixes are syntactic modifiers. As heads, attitude suffixes determine the formal properties (syntactic category, grammatical gender and inflectional class) of the derived form. As modifiers, size suffixes do not determine the formal properties of the derived form. Attitude suffixes can attach both to category-free √Roots and to categories (n/a/v), while size suffixes can only attach to a noun category. I investigate the functional and formal properties of Russian expressive suffixes in a systematic way, which has not been done before. In doing so, I analyze how expressive suffixes pattern along several kinds of criteria (gender/class change, category change, subcategorization). An important byproduct of this analysis is that I show how grammatical gender of an expressive form can be predicted from its inflectional class (combined with animacy and natural gender of the base). One implication of this analysis is that I show that the formal properties of expressives are no different from those of non-expressives (descriptives), as both expressives and descriptives can attach as heads or modifiers either to √Roots or categories. Another implication is that the formal criteria which I develop for a small set of expressive suffixes in Russian can be extended to set up a cross-linguistic typology of expressives.

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