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How ‘here’ and ‘now’ in Russian and English establish joint attention in TV news broadcasts

Как эквиваленты ‘here’ и ‘now’ в русском и английском устанавливают совместное внимание в теленовостях


This article presents a thorough investigation of the five Russian deictic words that correspond to the English meanings ‘here’ and ‘now’: zdes’, tut, sejčas, teper’ and vot. We analyze data from the Russian National Corpus and data from Russian TV news broadcasts. On the basis of the corpus data, we propose a radial category network consisting of nine subcategories, which encompass all five words, and show that although the deictic words have overlapping distributions, they all have distinct ‘radial category profiles’ in the sense that they display different centers of gravity in the network. We advance the ‘Minimal Adaptation Hypothesis’, according to which language makes adaptations that are as small as possible, when applied to a new setting, such as the one created by TV.


В статье представлено тщательное исследование пяти дейктических слов русского языка, соответствующих английским ‘here’ и ‘now’: здесь, тут, сейчас, теперь и вот. Мы проанализировали данные Национального корпуса русского языка, а также данные русских телевизионных выпусков новостей. На основе данных корпуса мы предлагаем радиальную сеть значений, состоящую из девяти подкатегорий и описывающую все пять дейктических слов. Мы показываем, что, хотя исследуемые дейктические единицы пересекаются в их распределении, каждая из них имеет свой ‘профиль радиальной категории’, иными словами, свой центр тяжести в рамках предложенной радиальной сети значений. Мы также выдвигаем ‘гипотезу минимальной адаптации’, согласно которой приспособление языка к новым условиям функционирования, таким как условия телевидения, оказывается по возможности минимальным.

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  1. Examples from TV network news explored in the present study are excerpted from the NewsScape Library of International Television News, a unit of the University of California Library. It is a searchable but not yet public online database (, authentication required). After each example from TV network news we provide a link to a webpage where the reader can watch the relevant video clips. For the convenience of the reader, throughout the article the relevant deictic words in numbered examples are italicized. All the video clip links were last accessed in November 2012.



  4. The Russian National Corpus (RNC) is available at Unless otherwise indicated, all numbered examples in Sects. 3 through 6 of the present study are culled from the RNC.

  5. We performed Pearson’s chi-squared test (X-squared=99.5196, df=4), which gave p-value < 2.2e-16, i.e. the number 0 … 22 with fifteen zeros before 22. The p-value measures the likelihood that the observed differences could be due to chance. Since 2.2e-16 is the smallest number the stastitics software package R operates with, for all practical purposes the likelihood that the observed differences could be due to chance is zero. Although an observed difference is not likely to be due to chance, this does not necessary mean that the relevant factors have a large impact, i.e., that the effect size is large. In order to investigate the effect size of the factors involved in Table 1, we computed a Cramer’s V value. R provided a Cramer’s V value =0.6, which is considered a large effect size (King and Minium 2008, pp. 327–329).

  6. The authors would like to thank Stephen M. Dickey for drawing our attention to this example.

  7. It is worth pointing out that tut is very often followed by the particle že, which, as argued by Rakhilina and Letuchiy (2012), emphasizes that the event in question takes place right after another event, i.e., is part of a chain of consecutive events.

  8. Note in passing that word order is of relevance in sentences like (15)–(17). In (15), for instance, sejčas could be replaced by teper’, but only if teper’ was placed in sentence-initial position (teper’ ja vam rasskažu). Sentences (15)–(17) involve perfective verbs, but imperfective verbs are also attested in examples of this type:

    1. (i)

      Sejčas budem čaj pit’.

      Now we are going to drink tea.’   (V. F. Panova. Volodja. 1959)

    1. (ii)

      Dal’nejšie rezul’taty teper’ budut opredeljat’sja itogami raboty komissii.

      ‘Future results will now be determined based on the conclusions of the committee’s work.’

        (A. Kuraev. Ugrozy s vozduxa i iz kosmosa rastut, odnako okončatel’nyj oblik edinoj kompleksnoj sistemy PVO-PRO poka ne opredelen. Vozdušno-kosmičeskaja oborona. 2004.02.15)


  10. These conclusions are corroborated by statistical test. Comparison of the numbers for sejčas and teper’ on the one hand and tut on the other reveals that the observed differences are statistically highly significant: Pearson’s chi-squared test (X-squared=167.4934, df=2) gave p-value < 2.2e-16. The effect size is large: Cramer’s V-value = 0.7. Comparison of the numbers for sejčas and teper’, on the other hand, shows that the differences between these two deictic words are not statistically significant: Pearson’s chi-squared test (X-squared=3.0945, df=3) p-value = 0.3773. Notice that for the purposes of statistical analysis we did not distinguish between subcategories S1a and S1b, and that we did not include S3 in the analysis, since this subcategory is not attested in our databases.


  12. The relationship between deictic words and gesture has recently been studied in great detail by Talmy (2011).

  13. We limited ourselves to situations where anchors or reporters addressed the viewers directly, since these are the situations relevant for blended joint attention.





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Nesset, T., Endresen, A., Janda, L.A. et al. How ‘here’ and ‘now’ in Russian and English establish joint attention in TV news broadcasts. Russ Linguist 37, 229–251 (2013).

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  • Joint Attention
  • News Broadcast
  • Discourse Management
  • Temporal Meaning
  • Mere Mirror Image