«Counter-optative» infinitive constructions in Russian: Aspect, tense, person, and variation of the categorial meaning.

2015. №5, 26-48

Michail Ya. Dymarsky
Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia, St. Petersburg, 199053, Russia;
Insitute for Linguistic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, 199053, Russia


The paper is focused on the counteroptative subtype of infinitive clauses / utterances, which correspond to the Ne INF by and Kak by ne INF patterns and signify undesirability of a certain situation, from the Speaker’s point of view. The regular variation of the counteroptative categorial meaning (regret, reproach, advice, request, quasioptative, apprehension, forewarning, and threat) is considered, which depends on a combination of values of the key parameters of the model: the aspect of the infinitive, personal reference of the utterance and its temporal characteristics. The concept of a temporal vector of an infinitive utterance, including five particular values, is proposed. It is shown that the variation of the counteroptative categorial situation is also influenced by the hidden personal transposition and the distance between the Speaker and the Subject of the infinitive construction. The limitations on the temporal perspective for the two models are identified: the first one cannot have the retrospective-antecedent temporal vector, neither can it be used in the retrospective vector if the aspect of the infinitive is perfective; the second one can refer only to the future.