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HUM-Fagkomiteen for humaniora

Exploring Emptiness: Russian derivational morphology in cognitive linguistics

Awarded: NOK 3.8 mill.

The importance of the Arctic areas (?Nordområdene?) is increasing for Norway, as witnessed by the new government?s program "Barents 2020" for research and development in the Arctic areas. Due to Russia's dominating geopolitical position in the north, comp etence in Russian language is a key factor for the further development in the Barents Region. In this research project we propose strengthening Norwegian competence and expanding existing knowledge by applying the theory of cognitive linguistics to data c oncerning the structure of Russian verbs. Cognitive linguistics is a family of broadly compatible theoretical approaches sharing the fundamental assumption that language is an integral part of cognition. As Janda (2000:4) puts it, "for a cognitive linguis t, linguistic cognition is simply cognition". We explore two classes of prefixes and suffixes that have traditionally been considered "empty", i.e. devoid of meaning. However, we challenge this analysis, entertaining the hypothesis that the illusion of "e mptiness" is due to a large amount of conceptual overlap between the meaning of the stem and the prefix/suffix. We furthermore hypothesize that the verbs in question form structured categories organized around prototypes. These and other hypotheses will b e tested against data from electronic corpora such as the Russian National Corpus (

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HUM-Fagkomiteen for humaniora