Grammatical analysis in Russian schools

The following information comes from ‘Smilga’ (4 March 2011), who remembers having done these things in school twenty years ago; as far as he knows, the practice continues in Russian schools today (this is confirmed by a note quoted below):

  • morphemic analysis (literally, ‘dissection of the make-up of words’)
    • In morphemic analysis, one used a repertoire of shapes to mark different types of morphemes within a word: a box for the flexion, a tie for the root, wedges for derivational suffixes, corner brackets for prefixes.
    • an example:

  • syntactic analysis not above the level of clauses (literally, ‘dissection of sentences into members’).
    • In syntactic analysis, there were several styles of lines with which to underline single words and PPs (and sometimes shorter coordinate phrases) within a sentence: single line for the clause subject, double line for the predicate, dashed for both direct and indirect objects, dashed-dotted for adverbial modifiers, and wavy for adnominal modifiers.
    • This method deals nicely with most common clausal constructions (direct actives, impersonals and copulae) and simple NPs, but it has a major drawback in that it is essentially flat and so fails to capture the nesting in linguistic structures. I vaguely remember drawing some arrows (was it for subordinate clauses? not sure here); but when I once asked my teacher whether participial phrases should be marked as adnominal modifiers, or as clauses with internal structure, or, perhaps, both, she was all but dumbfounded. So this is not regular dependency grammar.
    • If I am not mistaken, the method goes back to early twentieth-century linguists like Fortunatov or Peškovskij, and it has not significantly changed since that pre-Tesnièrian epoch.
    • an example:

A student (Anya Emmons) who was in Russian schools for five years (aged 9-14) from 2004-9 writes:

Indeed, that kind of analysis is done on a day-to-day basis in the classroom, but it’s not entirely typical of exams. Those techniques of dissecting words and sentences were supposed to help us learn the rules, they were not necessary in and of themselves. The tables bring back many memories! Haha. I remember our textbook having whole chapters dedicated to the suffix “ova” or the prefix “pre/pri”, for instance. What the person writing the article [above] forgot to mention, however, is that there were ways of marking more complicated structures – we were taught to put vertical lines around clauses containing independent structures, and in some difficult cases there were crosses drawn above noun-verb pairs, as well as the arrows mentioned.


Comments are closed.

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.