Prefixes from the point of view of cognitive linguistics and typology (an answer to the paper by A.A. Zaliznjak and I.L. Mikaeljan).

2013. №4, 87-96

Julija L. Kuznecova
Universitetet i Tromsø;
Laura A. Janda
Universitetet i Tromsø;


[Янда 2012] claims that Russian verbal prefi xes constitute a verb classifi er system. [Зализняк, Микаэлян 2012] is a critical response that calls into question the validity of this claim, its theoretical framework, and the data used to support it. In this rebuttal we explain that cognitive linguistics differs from many other linguistic frameworks because it avoids unnecessary a priori assumptions about the structure of language. We do not assume that language has strict criteria and discrete categories, but instead apply statistical methods to explore the gradience of linguistic phenomena, consistent with what is known about general cognitive mechanisms. We explain how the Exploring Emptiness database of aspectual pairs was designed and the special features it offers (labels, frequencies, defi nitions). Our overview of the empty prefi x hypothesis demonstrates its prominence in Russian linguistics and textbooks and the need for our extensive empirical study to support and extend the Vey – Schooneveld overlap hypothesis.