Побудительные реплики и их компоненты в русском устном диалоге: количественное описание

Translated title of the contribution: Imperative Utterances and Their Components in Russian Spoken Dialogue: Quantitative Description

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1. The paper analyses imperative utterances using a subcorpus of 239500 words from the “One Day of Speech” corpus (further referred to as ORD). The article covers only utterances with the 2nd person Sg and Pl forms of the verb in the imperative mood. There are 2353 verb forms of this kind and 2025 utterances that contain them.
2. Each imperative utterance is viewed as a sequence of components that consistsof a core component (an imperative or an imperative construction) and
“meaningful components,” i.e., components that are regularly used in imperative
utterances and often shift the utterance along the politeness/impoliteness
scale and categoricity/non-categoricity scale. Among meaningful components
the following are common:
• forms of address;
• personal pronouns;
• particles davaj, davajte [let’s], nu, -ka, že, na, a, da, vot, prosto and their combinations;
• politeness formulae, explicit request markers such as prošu tebja [I ask you];
• various verbal modifiers, including downgraders nemnožko [a bit], tichonečko
[slowly, carefully]) and intensifiers bystro [quickly], sročno [urgently],
objazatel’no [necessarily], sejčas že [now], uže [already], nakonec [at last] and
• emotive interjections;
• imperative interjections etc.
Some other meaningful components are: references to the ongoing/completed
speech act (the present and past indicative forms of the 1st person from the
verbs govorit’ [speak], skazat’ [say], povtorjat’ [repeat] and others); lexical
means of diminishing the strength and authoritativeness of the utterance that
express suppositions (downtoners such as možet byt’, možet [maybe, perhaps]);
lexical means of diminishing the strength and authoritativeness of the utterance
that express uncertainty (hedges such as kak by [sort of]); expressions
that explain the reasons of action (grounders); “appealers” such as da? ladno?
The following features are taken into account in the description of imperative
utterances: the number of its meaningful components, their positions in
the imperative utterance, their positions with respect to the core component
of the utterance; presence of iterations, co-occurrence of the meaningful components in the utterance.
3. According to the ORD data there are 10 verbs most frequently used in the
imperative mood (2nd person Sg or Pl): slušat’ [listen] (ipm 1048,20), smotret’
[look] (ipm 651,47), podoždat’ [wait] (ipm 488,60), skazat’ [say] (ipm 363,32),
izvinit’ [excuse] (ipm 267,27), dat’ [give, perfect verb] (ipm 263,09), idti [go]
(ipm 250,57), posmotret’ [look, verb with a prefix] (ipm 233,86), davat’ [give,
imperfect verb] (ipm 171,22), vzjat’ [take] (ipm 146,16).
Thus, imperative utterances dialogue most contain verbs that regulate spoken
interaction: verbs that establish contact and attract the listener’s attention
(slušat’, smotret’, posmotret’ [listen, look]); the verb podoždat’ [wait] that is
mostly used to convey the meanings ‘don’t start speaking’ and ‘stop speaking
for a while’, verbs of saying (skazat’, govorit’ [say, speak]).
The three most frequent verbs show the following additional features:
a. Slušaj(te) [listen!] usually appears at the very beginning of the utterance,
which itself appears at the beginning of a turn in the dialog. The verb is
frequently used without any arguments or indeed without any meaningful
components of the imperative utterances, except forms of address, emotive
interjections, and some particles (mostly the particle nu).
b. Smotri(te) [look!] is mostly used in its primary meaning ‘look at something
to see’ and in the meaning ‘pay attention’ (94% of all uses). 6% of
uses represent illocutionary phraseological units that have these contextual
characteristics: when used with the subject present, one gets a construction
that expresses surprise (ty smotri kakaja! [Look, what kind of person
she is!]); smotri can mean ‘decide for yourself ’ often in combination with
the pronoun sam(a) [oneself] (nu smotri sama [well, decide it yourself]);
a construction with the dative actant means threat (nu smotri mne! [you
shall see!]). Posmotri [look with a prefix] doesn’t have any of the specialized
meanings that illocutionary smotri has.
c. Podoždi(te) [wait!] is mostly used in the meanings ‘don’t start speaking yet’
and ‘stop speaking for a while.’ The meaning of the 1st type is likely to be
used in the non-initial position inside the utterance. The meaning of the
second type is typically used in the initial position (сf. podoždi / daj vzroslyje
djadi pogovorjat [wait, let adult men talk]). Often it starts the utterance that
contains a request for confirmation of more detailed information (podoždi /
a počemu u nego korotkije volosy? [wait / and why does he have short hair?]).
These imperatives are not used with modifiers, politeness formulae, “appealers”
like ladno? [ok?]. Modifiers and other meaningful components of
the imperative utterances are used only with podoždat’ [wait] in its direct
meaning. Thus, the meanings of podoždi ‘don’t start speaking yet’ and ‘stop
speaking for a while’ are also contextually isolated.
4. Negation is most frequently used with the verb govorit’ [speak] (ipm with negation 70.99), as well as with other verbs of speech and speech actions: kričat’
[shout], sporit’ [argue], sprašivat’ [ask]. The verbs of emotional and mental
states (zabyt’ [forget], volnovat’sja [be nervous], pereživat’ [worry], obižat’sja
[be offended], nadejat’sja [hope] and others) also form a significant part of
the negated imperatives list. In more than half of the cases govorit’ [speak]
with negation is used in the utterances of the type i ne govori [don’t even say
this] (ipm with negation 37.58) that usually express agreement with the other
communicant (aga // vot imenno // ne govori [yes / sure/ don’t even say this]).
5. Imperfect and perfect imperatives (II and PI) are distributed as follows: positive II – 1032 (47%), positive PI – 1180 (53%); negative II – 127 (90%), negative
PI – 14 (10%).
PI with negation is used in preventive constructions. Prohibitive meaning of
PI can be seen in a specialized construction with ne vzdumaj [don’t you dare]
and ne počurajsja [don’t shun away from doing smth]. The most common negative imperative in the corpus is ne zabud’(te) [don’t forget]. Thus, using
PI with negation is typical of some mental causatives.
When analyzing positive II, the semantic components mentioned by E.V.
Padučeva (2010) as determining pragmatic aspects of the II usage were taken
into account, i.e., “attention to the initial phase,” “immediately” and “the
situation determines the action.” I compared the component structure of the
imperative utterances with positive II and PI, with respect to the following
characteristics: politeness formula, primary means of creating the effect of
emphatic persuasion, and the means of conveying the idea of immediacy
(adverbial modifiers, the fact of being included in the iterative chains, particles
davaj, davajte, nu, že).
The most significant differences between II and PI are in the way they
are used with politeness formula, adverbial modifiers and particles davaj
(davajte) [let’s]. For instance, II imperatives are much less frequently used
with politeness formula than PI imperatives (10 uses of II (1,2%) vs. 76 PI
uses (6,4%)). Adverbial modifiers with II imperative are used in 2.6% of
all utterances compared to PI imperative with 5.5%. It is essential that the
semantic component of II imperative “immediately” rarely gets additional
contextual support in imperative utterances.
Adverbial modifiers that diminish the intensity of the action are mostly used in
diminutive forms when accompanying II imperatives: (tichonečko, spokojnen’ko,
potichonečku [slowly, carefully] and others). Some II utterances (including those
with diminishers) are characterized by a function of accompanying the action
with speech; it can also be seen in utterances where II imperative is combined
with the particle davaj (davajte) [let’s] and repetitions of that particle.
6. In conclusion, this paper suggests a componential analysis of imperative
utterances: information about the regular collocations (elements of the context
adjacent to the verb in the imperative utterance) was used in the analysis of
the most frequently used verbs, imperatives with negation as well as II and
PI imperatives. One result of the analysis is that the most frequent verbs in
the most frequent types of uses demonstrate limited ability to combine with
different components of imperative utterances. Such imperatives develop into
discourse markers.
Translated title of the contributionImperative Utterances and Their Components in Russian Spoken Dialogue: Quantitative Description
Original languageRussian
Title of host publicationUrban Voices: The Sociolinguistics, Grammar and Pragmatics of Spoken Russian
EditorsNadine Thielemann, Nicole Richter
Place of PublicationBerlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien
PublisherPeter Lang
ISBN (Print)978-3-631-70674-9
StatePublished - 2019

Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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