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Two origins of the prefix iz- and how they affect the vy- vs. iz- correlation in Modern Russian

Два исторических источника приставки из- и как они определяют соотношение вы- и из- в современном русском языке


This article reports on a synchronic study of 989 Modern Russian verbs formed with the prefixes vy- and iz-, including standard lexemes, obsolete verbs, and newly-formed coinages culled from the Russian National Corpus. I argue that the hypothesis about the two historical origins of the prefix iz- may explain the ambivalent behavior of this prefix in Modern Russian, which shows both semantic overlap and semantic contrast with the prefix vy-. I revisit the most detailed semantic account of the two prefixes and provide additional support in terms of type and token frequencies of the analyzed verbs. I further propose that vy- and iz- encode different spatial image schemas and thus explain why the prefix iz- is compatible with verbs of multidirectional motion, whereas vy- preferably attaches to verbs of unidirectional motion; why the verbs prefixed with iz- often carry a more evocative flavor and refer to more intensive activities than those described by parallel verbs with vy-; why iz- encodes multiplication of an action named by the base and why this is not common for vy-; and finally how it is possible for iz- to have both bookish and colloquial uses, being very obsolete and highly productive in different submeanings.


В статье представлен синхронический анализ 989 глаголов современного русского языка, образованных с помощью приставок вы- и из-. Материал исследования включает общеупотребительные лексемы, устаревшие глаголы, а также только что образованные окказионализмы, извлеченные из Национального корпуса русского языка. Аргументируется мысль, что гипотеза о двух исторических источниках приставки из- может объяснить ee амбивалентное поведение в современном русском языке, где мы наблюдаем как случаи семантического пересечения, так и случаи семантического контраста этой приставки с вы-. В статье вновь обсуждается предложенный ранее наиболее детальный анализ семантики двух приставок и в его пользу приводятся новые данные по различным видам частотности проанализированных глаголов (частотность типа и частотность токена). Далее выдвигается идея о различии в пространственных схемах этих приставок, что позволяет объяснить, почему приставка из-, как правило, присоединяется к разнонаправленным глаголам движения, тогда как приставка вы- предпочитает глаголы однонаправленного движения; почему глаголы с приставкой из- часто имеют более экспрессивную окраску и описывают более интенсивную деятельность, чем аналогичные глаголы с приставкой вы-; почему из- обозначает множественность актов действия, названного глагольной основой, и почему это не характерно для вы-; и, наконец, каким образом из- может придавать глаголам то книжный, то разговорный оттенок, а также быть и очень устаревшей, и высоко продуктивной приставкой в ее различных значениях.

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  1. Cf. also a preliminary analysis in Nesset, Baydimirova, and Janda (2009) and a condensed version in Endresen et al. (2012, pp. 266–272), Janda et al. (2013, pp. 61–66).

  2. I observe the overlap of vy- and iz- in one more submeaning (see Sect. 4) and provide new information on the distribution of vy- and iz- across marginal Russian verbs, thus detecting prominent productivity patterns of the two prefixes that are particularly relevant for the proposal outlined in this article (Sects. 5.3 and 5.4).

  3. In particular, iz- can encode a multiplex path subdivided into parts (izognut’ ‘bend out, crook’), multiplication of an activity (isxodit’ ‘walk all over the place’, izranit’ ‘wound in many places’) and abstract exhaustion, often with a negative destructive impact on an object (issušit’ ‘damage by drying’).

  4. Instead of the more traditional term Old Russian, here I adopt the term Old East Slavic, which is more accurate with regard to the fact that this language is an ancestor for not only Modern Russian, but also Modern Ukrainian and Modern Belarusian (see Nesset 2015 for the discussion of terminology).

  5. Here and further in the text I use small capitals in order to indicate the submeanings of the prefixes in question described in detail in Sect. 4.

  6. It is worth mentioning that this distributional difference between vy- and iz- across standard and marginal verbs is statistically significant. A chi-squared test yields \(X^{2} = 22\); \(\mathit{df} = 1\), \(p\)-value = 2.272e-06. Cramer’s V equals 0.15, showing that the effect size of this difference is small.

  7. I have adopted the distinction between Natural and Specialized Perfectives proposed in Janda (2007). NPs are perfective verbs that form an aspectual pair. Therefore, when a NP is formed, the prefix does not alter the lexical meaning of the base, as in vygnat’pf < gnat’ipf ‘drive out’ and istopit’pf < topit’ipf ‘heat’. By contrast, in SPs, the prefix changes the lexical meaning of the simplex base, as in vylomat’pf ‘break open’ < lomat’ipf ‘break’ and iskusat’pf ‘bite all over’ < kusat’ipf ‘bite’. For the purposes of this study, SP is taken in a broad sense and understood to mean any perfective verb other than NP. Therefore, SPs counted in Table 2 include not only perfective verbs like vylomat’pf and iskusat’pf formed from imperfective simplexes, but also perfective verbs that are formed from perfective simplexes like vydat’pf ‘hand out’ < dat’pf ‘give’.

  8. Under analyzable verbs here I mean the verbs with a clear derivational structure in which the prefix can be clearly parsed as such. I exclude deetymologized verbs with unclear bases like vykamurit’ ‘do smth uncommon’ or izmoždat’ ‘exhaust’.

  9. I exclude from this analysis all unpaired imperfective verbs. Among excluded imperfective verbs there is the highly frequent verb vygljadet’ ‘look like’ which lacks a perfective counterpart arguably due to its loan origin. This verb is a morphological and semantic calque of the German aussehen ‘look like, lit. out-see’ to Russian in the 1830s (Vinogradov 1999, p. 118). I also set aside a productive pattern manifested by imperfective verbs like vydelyvat’sja, vykobenivat’sja, vykablučivat’(sja), where all such derivatives refer to showing off, doing something uncommon, extraordinary, or outrageous. The only exception to this pattern is the verb vypendrivat’sja which, unlike other verbs of this type, has a perfective counterpart vypendrit’sja ‘show off once’. I also exclude from my analysis four imperfectives with iz- that lack perfective partners: izobilovat’ ‘abound’ and three synonymous verbs izmyvat’sja, izdevat’sja, and istjazat’(sja) ‘torture, bully’.

  10. This number includes all NPs with vy- and iz- as well as highly frequent SPs with 100 and more attestations in the RNC (Nesset et al. 2011, p. 378).

  11. This and other examples provided in this article are extracted from the RNC. For the convenience of the reader, the verb prefixed with vy- or iz- is italicized both in the corpus example and in the translation.

  12. Iz- is more entrenched in this submeaning than vy-, which is an important fact in itself. I will ignore it for the sake of the present analysis and come back to it in Sect. 5.

  13. Additionally, the verb vyžit’vy-live’ can mean ‘survive’. This use is accounted for by submeaning 12 endure (Fig. 2).

  14. The terms ‘unidirectional’ / ‘multidirectional’ are used in Wade (1992, pp. 339–360); parallel terms ‘determinate’ / ‘indeterminate’ are employed in Forsyth (1970, pp. 319–344). For a detailed discussion of this terminology see Nesset (2000, pp. 106–107), in which the author puts forward arguments in favor of the terms ‘unidirectional’ / ‘non-directional’.

  15. In the verb vyxodit’ (with the stressed first syllable), the prefix vy- encodes removing someone out of a metaphorical container of illness, and the simplex base specifies that curing is achieved by nursing the patient (xodit’ (za kem-to) in this case denotes ‘take care of someone in order to cure’, lit. ‘walk (after someone)’).


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Correspondence to Anna Endresen.

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This study is supported by the project CPRU-2017/10027.

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Endresen, A. Two origins of the prefix iz- and how they affect the vy- vs. iz- correlation in Modern Russian. Russ Linguist 43, 205–229 (2019).

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