An experimental study of Russian possible verbs prefixed in o- and u-

2018. №1, 45-63

Anna Endresen @, Laura A. Janda
Universitetet i Tromsø: Norges arktiske universitet, Tromsø, Norway; @


This article reports on an experimental study of Russian possible words formed via two productive derivational patterns, namely deadjectival verbs prefixed in o- and u- like ovnešnit’ ‘externalize’ and ukonkretit’ ‘concretize’, obytovit’ ‘vulgarize’ and ukrasivit’ ‘make prettier’. We test four hypotheses as to whether acceptability scores of these verbs correlate with a) corpus frequency and word status; b) productivity of derivational pattern; c) speaker’s age, and d) speaker’s gender. We collected acceptability judgments from 121 native Russian speakers. The study compared low frequency marginal verbs to high frequency verbs on the one hand and nonce verbs on the other hand. Our findings suggest that in perception of possible words, frequency of use is a stronger factor than speakers’ ability to unpack morphological patterns.