Russian Linguistics

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 79–102 | Cite as

Reanimating voices from the past: an alternative reading of Novgorod Birch Bark Letter N370

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Abstract

The present paper offers an alternative reading of the Novgorodian birch bark letter N370. As a čelobitie ‘petition’, this letter contains the peasants’ angry voice, which may at the same time be subdued due to their social status. This paper aims to uncover its undertone. I suggest that cto ‘what’ and za klucka (lit.) ‘for steward’ should form an idiomatic čto za phrase and the pragmatic nature of the letter comports well with the proposed reading. Then, I argue that the word ležini is not a verb in the imperative mood combined with a negative particle (leži imp.sg ne) but rather a noun that means a person lying down, capitalizing highly on the punctuation and other linguistic clues. I address the interpolation issues in otъje(z)de ‘go away’ and (o)kradoni ‘robbed’, restructuring hidden intentions. Finally, I suggest that N370 contains two sets of distinct voices, one antagonistic and the other propitiative. I will argue that the concept of collective writing as displayed in N370 is reflected in the parallelism that exists in the composition and the nuanced tone of the different voices in the letter.

Восстановленные голоса из прошлого: альтернативное истолкование новгородской берестяной грамоты № 370

Аннотация

Статья предполагает альтернативное истолкование новгородской берестяной грамоты № 370. Являясь челобитной, данная грамота выражает возмущенный голос крестьян, который, в то же время, может быть приглушен из-за их социального статуса. В статье делается попытка обнаружить эту скрытую окраску. Предполагается, что Open image in new window и Open image in new window формируют идиоматическую фразу что за, и прагматический характер этого письма хорошо подходит к предложенной интерпретации. Принимая в расчет пунктуацию и другие языковые маркеры, мы считаем, что Open image in new window —это не глагол повелительного наклонения в сочетании с отрицательной частицей не, т.е., лежи не, а скорее существительное, означающее ‘лежачий человек’. Далее обращаемся к вопросам об интерполяции в словах Open image in new window и Open image in new window , реконструируя скрытые в них намерения. Наконец, мы предполагаем, что № 370 содержит два набора различных голосов, один—антагонистических, и другой—примиряющих. Считаем, что такая гипотеза о коллективном написании отражена в параллелизме композиции и тоновых нюансах голосов.

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Russian Language and LiteratureSungkyunkwan UniversitySeoulKorea

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