Chronological Morphemic and Word-Formational Dictionary of Russian:

Some System Regularities for Morphemic Structures and Units

Anatoliy A. Polikarpov

Published in:

Linguistische ArbeitsBerichte

Institut für Linguistik

Universität Leipzig

3. Europäische Konferenz "Formale Beschreibung slavischer Spachen, Leipzig 1999".

(Herausgegeben von Gerhild Zybatow, Uwe Junghanns, Grit Mehlorn & Luka Szucsich).

75.- Leipzig, 2000.- Pp. 201-212

1. Type of the Dictionary and the purpose of this paper. "Chronological Morphemic and Word-Formational Dictionary of Russian" contains Russian root, affixal, compound-affixal and other kinds of derivative words. Overall list of words in it contains about 180.000 lexical units. Compiling of the Dictionary has been begun in 1989 by the group of linguists headed by the author of the paper (A.A.Polikarpov, V.V.Bogdanov, E.V.Koreneva, O.S.Kryukova, Y.K.Krylov, O.V.Kukushkina, I.J. Sergeeva). The main job was done to 1997 [Polikarpov, Bogdanov, Kryukova, 1998], but compiling of the Dictionary continues until now [Chronologicheskij, 1989-2000].

Purpose of its compiling is to create as volumous database of Modern Russian morphemic and derivational units and structures as possible using all the necessary sources for gathering lexical material and its features. Final goal of this activity is system investigation of some significant morphemic and word-formational system regularities of Russian language lexical stock. At present there is undertaken the multiaspectual analysis of root and affixal derivatives in it. Some results of this analysis are presented here.

 

2. Basic parameters of words present at the Dictionary.Words are characterized by the following basic parameters:

        homonymic index;

        part of speech;

        date of a word arising in Russian language;

        borrowed or original nature of a word (and language source in case of borrowing);

        frequency of word use in Modern Russian;

        variant(s) of a word (if any);

        wordbase for derivation of a word;

        concrete appearance (variant) of a root in a word (1,2,3,4, etc. roots - in case of a compound word); an example of variants of the same root-invariant: glad, glod;

        generalized (invariant) form of a root common for several roots-variants (example: glod for two above mentioned roots);

        morphemic constituents and morphemic structure of a word: morphemes separated from the body of a word, qualified by the morphemic type (a root, prefix, suffix, ending, postfix), indicated by the ordinal number of positions for morphemes, etc.;

        word-formational type of a word (root, affixal, compound, compound-affixal, etc.);

        definition of word meanings according to Dictionary of Russian Language [DRL, 1981-1984];

        number of meanings according to "Dictionary of Modern Russian Literary Language in 17 vol-s" [DMRLL, 1948-1965].

 

3. Derived parameters of words. On the basis of the above mentioned types of information there were automatically defined word-formational nests (in the first version of the Dictionary - only for root and affixal words), their derivational structures, affixal models of words and analytically derived the following quantitative parameters for morphemes, words and word-formational nests:

        conventional ordinal number of an age period and typified age of words' arising in Russian language:

1 -  for words appeared in Russian in 20th century (conventional age for words of this period - 50 years);

2 - in 19th century (150 years);

3 - in 18th century (250 years);

4-  in 15-17th centuries, Old Russian period (450 years);

5 - in 7-14th centuries, Ancient Russian period (1000 years);

6 - in the end of the 1st milennium B.C. - 6th century A.D., Common Slavic period (2,200 years);

7 - in the time older than 7th century B.C. late Common Indo-European and earlier period (conventional age more than 2600 years);

        number of variants of a generalised root;

        total number of morphemes (taking also separately into account number of roots, prefixes, suffixes, all affixes together) in a word;

        letter length of each morpheme, total letter length of a word, length of its root, overall length of its prefixal and suffixal parts, etc.;

        volume of each word-formational nest (number of words in it);

        depth of a nest (maximal number of derivational steps for words in a nest);

        maximal number of morphemes in words of a nest;

        number of words on each derivational step in a nest;

        number of words of different parts of speech on different derivational steps;

        age of each word-formational nest;

        age of each generalized root;

        age of each concrete variant of a root;

        total frequency of use for all words of each word-formational nest;

        total frequency for words at some step of derivation;

        total frequency of use for each affixal model of words' structure (including separate counts for words of different parts of speech, age period, etc.).

For all words of some age category, length, affixal structure, etc., and for all word-formational nests of different age, structure, etc. there could be formed distributional profiles, calculated averages and derived various statistical indices. Some of them are present below.

 

4. Sources for the Dictionary creation. Information for DB "Chronological Morphemic and Word-Formational Dictionary of Russian" was initially obtained from explanatory dictionaries, first of all, from "Dictionary of Modern Russian Literary Language in 17 vol-s" [DMRLL, 1948-1965], "Dictionary of Russian Language in 4 vol-s" [DRL, 1981-1984], "Dictionary of Russian Language" [Ozhegov, 1972]. For the compiling initial morphemic and word-formational base there were used (first of all, "Dictionary of Russian Language Morphemes" [Kuznetsova, Efremova, 1986] and "Word-Formational Dictionary of Russian" [Tikhonov, 1985]). For gathering information on other parameters of words and morphemes there were also used dictionaries as follows: grammatical [Zalizniak, 1977], historical [Sreznevski, 1893-1903; Dictionary, 1988-1990; Dictionary, 1975-1997; Dictionary, 1984-1988], etymological [Troubachov, 1974 - ...; Vasmer,1964-1973; Shanskij, 1963-1982; Shanskij, Bobrova, 1994; Tchernykh, 1993], frequency [Zasorina, 1977], homonymic [Akhmanova, 1974], etc. ones. Despite of great achievements of compilers of the morphemic and word-formational dictionaries mentioned above in segmenting and classification of morphemic units and structures of Russian words, it remained necessary to reconsider a good deal of decisions in segmenting and definition of units. Also there was necessary to arrive at decisions of some words not present at historical and etymological dictionaries. So, the responcibility for the information and classificatory decision which we have arrived at is totally of the authors of this Dictionary.

 

A fragment of the initial Dictionary database is present below in a Table 1.

Table 1.

Fragment of the main DB of "Chronological Morphemic and Word-Formational Dictionary of Russian"
Word Homo nymic index of  word Genera-lised root Hom. index of gen. root Part    of  sp.  1 Part    of  sp.  2 Pref. 2 Pref.  1 Root 1 Suf. 1 Suf.  2 Suf.  3 Word frequency Word fixa-tion date Word age period

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

1050

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

1800

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

1050

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

93

1780

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

1866

5

 

 

 

 

 

0

1866

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

1891

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

1866

2

 

 

 

 

 

11

1780

3

 

While preparing and controlling basic data there was realised the necessity for compiling more accurate and extencive dictionary of Russian homonymic words and roots. The first version of it has been elaborated at the Laboratory for General and Computational Lexicology and Lexicography in the end of 1997 [Polikarpov, Pirjatinskaja, Sergeeva, 1997-2000]. Now it is being prepared for publishing. Homonymic (both - lexical and morphemic) information from it is used in analysed here Chronological Dictionary.

It is useful to present some main system-quantitative macroparameters of the Dictionary (see Table 2 below).

Table 2. Some Main System-Quantitative Parameters of the DB "Chronological Morphemic and Word-Formational Dictionary of Russian"

Parameter

Its value

Overall list of words

About

180000

Number of root and affixal words

50787

Number of different specific roots (variants of generalized roots) in root words and affixal derivatives

6385

Number of generalized roots (heading word-formational nests) of root words and affixal derivatives

3524

Average degree of generalised roots variation in root words and affixal derivatives

1.81

Number of root words (i.e. containing a pure root or a root plus an ending)

1438

Maximal letter length of root words and affixal derivatives

21

Average letter length of root words and affixal derivatives

9.03

Maximal length of affixal derivatives in number of morphemes in them

10

Average letter length of morphemes for root words and affixal derivatives

2.32

Maximal volume of word-formational nests consisting of root words and affixal derivatives

434

Number of nests consisting of one word

494

Average volume of nests consisting of root words and affixal derivatives

14.745

Number of root words and affixal derivatives which have arisen at Ancient Russian period

5604

Number of root words and affixal derivatives which have arisen at Common Slavonic period

3828

Number of root words and affixal derivatives which have arisen at Late Common Indo-European and more ancient periods

162

 

 

 5. System-quantitative analysis of the Dictionary. In this paper below there is present (1) a hypothesis for understanding the evolutionary mechanism responsible for arising of the so-called Menzeraths Law of morphemic structures and (2) some data for testing the hypothesis concerning analysis of only root and affixally derived Russian words (more than 50,000 different lexical units).

5.1. A hypothesis on the mechanism responsible for existence of the Menzeraths Law. In the most general formulating Menzeraths Law sounds like follows: the longer some construct (the whole) the shorter should be its components (parts) [Altmann, 1980; Altmann, Schwibbe, 1989]. In its historically initial form [Menzerath, 1954]  it described the reverse proportional dependence of the average length of syllables in words on length of words (measured by number of contained in them syllables). Later on this law was expanded for describing regularities of various units on various levels of language organisation (syntactic, textual, etc.) and even for describing other semiotic, biologic, etc. phenomena.  Nevertheless, it wasnt theoretically founded and even wasnt empirically studied on the basic sign level of any national variety of Human Language organisation - level of its morphemic units. Units of any other language levels (beginning from a word level) are formed mainly by combination of these basic units into more complex ones. Thats why quantitative-structural regularities for sign units of any other upper lying levels of language system cant be independent on regularities happening on the basic, morphemic level, cant be properly understood without theoretical and empirical study of regularities on it.

According to the model of sign life cycle [Polikarpov, 1993; 1994; 1995; 1998; 1999-2000] it  is natural to expect that the most probable (statistically dominant) direction for the historical succession of word categories arising within the  nest  of derivationally  connected words will be the movement from word-bases of  some relatively concrete,  objectively  oriented  categorial  semantics towards their more abstract and subjectively oriented derivatives, words of more feature oriented categorial semantics and, further - functional semantics.  So, there should be a tendency to  begin  a  word-formational tree mainly from nouns,  to continue it step by step with adjectives,  verbs,  adverbs,  pronouns, etc., and to end it with words  of  pure  syntactic (functional) quality like conjunctions and prepositions.

This direction of the categorial development is most basically predetermined by the fundamental fact of the inescapable development of the integral lexical semantics of any word during speech acts mainly into  the  direction  of its greater  abstractness.  More  abstract lexical semantics seeks corresponding more abstract categorial form (which is more organic to it) and finds it in acts of word-formation, producing more functional derivatives from previously derived words . So, in some cases of wordformation we deal not with new words (having new meanings and denoting new objects), but with new categorial variants (syntactic derivatives) of already existing lexical units having practically the same lexical meaning. Syntactic derivation (E.Kurylovich) is a kind of new forms derivation without real derivation of  new words [Karimova, Polikarpov, 1989].

According to the data from Russian dictionaries [Tikhonov, 1984; Novye, 1984] syntactic derivation is present in a good deal of cases of wordformation. That is why this process so significantly determines the quality direction for the categorial development of lexical units.

One of the most remarkable consequences of the mentioned process is probabilistic categorial, age, frequency and length ordering of morphemes within derived wordforms. It means that according to the mentioned above succession of word categories in wordformational process those derivation affixes which are more distant to their root (which appeare on later steps of derivational chain) should be proportionally more functional (grammatical), more aged, more frequent, and, finally, what is natural, shorter than less distant  ones. It is clear that just this phenomenon can lead to the inescapable gradual diminishing of the average length of affixes and, correspondingly, of morphemes on the whole within longer wordforms, i.e. can lead to the existence of the Law under study.

It is necessary to add that roots in longer wordforms should be also, on the average, older and, correspondingly, shorter than root in less complex derivatives. So, roots should follow the same tendency as all the rest morphemes in words.

5.2. Some results and perspectives.

Below there are present some data on this point showing the validity of the derived general regularity and its significant variation for morphemic structures of words of various ages, categorial form, for roots of words as opposed to all affixes together, for various kinds of affixes (prefixes, suffixes), for suffixes in different positions within a word, etc. By use of this data Menzeraths Law in this study is certainly corroborated for morphemes of words of any part-of-speech category and words of any age (see Figures 1, 2 and corresponding tables).

 

Figure 1.

Table 3. Menzerath's law: Dependence of average length of morhemes on number of morphemes in words (separately for words of various part-of-speech categories)

Parts of speech number of morphemes in words
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Nouns

4,7

3,01

2,53

2,22

2,1

2,12

2,07

2,01

1,94

1,95

Verbs

5,2

3,28

2,38

2,29

2,22

2,08

1,98

1,94

2,06

2,05

Adjectives

4,33

3,15

2,7

2,35

2,13

2,11

2,09

2,05

2,06

-

Functional words

4,35

2,7

2,26

2,05

1,95

1,89

1,79

-

-

-

Interjections

3,59

2,67

1,83

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Adverbs "-o"

2,64

2,11

1,86

1,6

1,65

1,51

-

-

-

-

all words

4,57

3

2,53

2,27

2,17

2,1

2,04

1,98

2,01

2

 

 

Figure 2.

 

 

Table 4. Menzerath's Law: Dependence of the average length of morphemes on  number of morphemes in words (separately for words of different ages)

 

Age periods of words Number of morphemes in words
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

age 1

3,3

2,2

1,9

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

age 2

4,3

2,7

2,3

2

1,8

1,6

-

-

-

-

age 3

4,9

2,9

2,4

2,1

2

1,9

1,9

1,8

2,1

-

age 4

5

3,1

2,5

2,2

2,5

2

1,9

1,9

2

2,1

age 5

4,7

3,1

2,6

2,3

2,2

2,1

2

2

1,8

2

age 6

4,9

3,2

2,7

2,3

2,2

2,1

2,1

2

2

2

age 7

4,3

3,5

2,7

2,4

2,2

2,2

2,1

2

2

-

all words

4,6

3

2,5

2,3

2,2

2,1

2

2

2

2

 

Words of different ages and categorial form demonstrate not only the astonishing analogy in following the law, but also some significant differences. For instance, words of the same number of morphemes  proportionally to the decline of their age (there are 7 grades of ages see above) are built with the use of gradually longer morphemes.  This, presumably, demonstrates that, on the average, younger words are built by younger morphemes.

This fact also clearly can be seen from the Figure 3 (and corresponding table), where there is present the dependence of length of various kinds of morphemes (prefixes, suffixes, all affixes together, roots, all morphemes together) on ages of words containing them.

General tendency and differences in its form for various kinds of morphemes contained by words of various length (various number of morphemes in them) is present at Figure 4 (and corresponding table).

 

Figure 3.

 

Table 5. Dependence of lengths of affixes, prefixes, suffixes and roots on ages of words which they belong to  

Various kinds of morphemes Age periods
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Roots

3,13

3,6

3,43

3,5

3,58

3,67

3,68

Prefixes

1

2,04

2,06

2,19

2,06

2,1

2,09

suffixes

1,37

1,59

1,67

1,71

1,84

1,86

1,94

Affixes

1,36

1,63

1,77

1,83

1,89

1,91

1,97

   

Figure 4.

 

Table 6. Menzerath's Law: Dependence of lengths of any kinds of morphemes and all morphemes together on number of morphemes in words

 

Various kinds of morphemes Number of morphemes in words
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

average lengths of roots

4,55

3,93

3,82

3,52

3,38

3,24

3,09

3,04

3,08

3

average lengths of all morphemes

4,55

2,98

2,52

2,28

2,17

2,01

2,04

2

2,08

2

average lengths of affixes

-

2,06

1,89

1,86

1,87

1,87

1,87

1,83

1,89

1,89

average lengths of suffixes

-

2

1,86

1,78

1,8

1,82

1,81

1,78

1,88

2,19

average lengths of prefixes

-

2,22

2,12

2,12

2,08

2,02

2,03

2,02

1,93

1,25

 

 

A phenomenon of the average morphemes length reverse proportional dependence on the ordinal number of morphemes position within a word (i.e., the more distant a suffix from a root, the smaller is the length of a suffix), in our opinion, is of even greater importance for the theory  than a menzerathian regularity itself. As a matter of fact, Menzeraths law itself is a derivative of the more fundamental positional dependence of morphemes length on place and, therefore, function of morphemes in a word. This kind of the dependence one can see from the Figure 5 (and corresponding table).

Figure 5.

 

Table 7. Dependence of the average length of suffixes on their ordinal number within a sequence of suffixes in words of various number of suffixes

 

Number of suffixes in words Ordinal number of suffixes in suffixial sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

1 suffix

1,94

-

-

-

-

-

-

2 suffixes

1,7

1,93

-

-

-

-

-

3 suffixes

1,66

1,87

1,84

-

-

-

-

4 suffixes

1,48

2,03

1,82

1,85

-

-

-

5 suffixes

1,45

2,12

1,72

1,91

1,7

-

-

6 suffixes

1,19

2,26

2,26

1,71

1,79

1,71

-

7 suffixes

1

3,67

2,83

2,33

1

2

1,67

1-7 suffixes

1,69

1,92

1,83

1,85

1,7

1,74

1,67

 

While empirical data obtained from the Dictionary for the chains of suffixes of Russian words, in general, is in line with just proclaimed dependence there is also observed some slighter tendency for oscillations, i.e. rhythmically repeating and gradually diminishing plus and minus weak deviations from the main dependence stream. Some evolutionary explanation for it is possible on the basis of some additional assumptions on the nature and mechanism of the derivational process. It is a subject of a separate research.

 

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