From: Gijsbertus Koolemans-Beijnen <kesaphelaaol.com>
Subject: A Comparative Semantic Analysis of Contemporary Standard Russian and Polish Word Order
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Institution: Stanford University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 1968
Author: Bert K. Beynen
Dissertation Title: A Comparative Semantic Analysis of Contemporary Standard Russian and Polish Word Order
Subject Language(s): Polish (pol)
Cornelius H van Schooneveld
The word order in both Russian and Polish is repeatedly reported to be
free, although apparently not any order is permissible. Proceeding from F.
de Saussure's assumption that a difference in form always is accompanied by
a difference in meaning, and vice-versa, one might expect that different
types of word order would differ semantically from each other. In the
literature we find only scant and unsystematic reference to a relation
between word order and meaning; only for a few seemingly unrelated cases
such a relation is given. This dissertation will try to elucidate the
relation between form and meaning in word order in Russian and Polish.
In Chapter II the most important syntactical theories are examined. The
main criticism is that they do not recognize the unity of the linguistic
sign and overemphasize either its formal or semantic aspect. Also, the
notion of 'normal' word order is criticized. The author favors van
Schooneveld's approach which consists in taking the relation
modifier-modified as the point of issue and attributing a certain meaning
to the preceding or the following of the modifier. Also, van Schooneveld
distinguishes a marked and an unmarked word order, depending on whether the
meaning of a certain type of word order is marked or unmarked. In this way
the terms 'marked' and 'unmarked' are more meaningful than the terms
'normal' and 'abnormal' as applied to word order.
The Polish translation of the Russian novel 'Anna Karenina' is compared
with the original. Differences in word order between the two novels are
noted, and a correspondence between word order and meaning is established,
proceeding from the assumption that, in a translation, both the original
combination of modified and modifier and its translation are identical in
meaning while possibly displaying a difference in word order.
In Chapters III-VII the main types of the combination modified-modifier are
examined. It is shown that both in Russian and in Polish a modifier
following its modified indicates that their combination can be recognized.
In Russian the speaker performs the recognition; in Polish the recognition
takes place on a more general basis. A modifier preceding its modified
indicates that recognition may or may not take place, and forms thus the
unmarked member in a binary privative opposition, the marked member being
the modifier following its modified.
In Chapters VIII-X the author examines special cases; Chapter XI contains
and application of the analysis, used in the preceding only with regard to
the relation modified-modifier, to sentence analysis.
Chapter XII contains a conclusion, in which the adequacy of the proposed
analysis is stressed once more. Also, the similarity is noted which exists
between affixes and words in their relation between order and meaning. The
chapter concludes with a proposal for a typology of languages based on the
fact that the connection between modified and modifier is established
differently for different languages.
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