Participles in -s’ in the language of Russian poetry of the 18th and 19th centuries.

2018. №5, 77-86

Elena A. Galinskaya а, Alexander Ch. Piperski b, @
а Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia;
b National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia; @


The paper discusses the form of the reflexive suffix in Russian participles. The original Old Russian participles had been lost or lexicalized in Russian, and the class of participles was later re-borrowed from Church Slavonic, where they uniformly use -sja as a reflexive suffix, whereas other verbal forms have -sja after consonants and -s’ after vowels. Participles ending in -s’ are almost unattested in prosaic texts, but they are present in Russian poetry of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. They are mostly used to achieve metrical well-formedness, but can also serve a stylistic purpose, since they sound (pseudo-) archaic. This can be observed in the translation of the Iliad by Ni kolay Gnedich, who consistently uses participles in -sja after consonants and participles in -s’ after vowels. However, this experiment remained unique, and Gnedich was not followed even by Vasily Zhukovsky in his translation of the Odyssey, where forms in -sja after vowels are simply avoided for metrical reasons rather than replaced with forms in -s’.

For citation:

Galinskaya E. A., Piperski A. Ch. Participles in -s’ in the language of Russian poetry of the 18th and 19th centuries. Voprosy Jazykoznanija. 2018. No. 5. Pp. 77–86. DOI: 10.31857/S0373658X0001398-6.


The work of A. Ch. Piperski was supported by Russian Science Foundation (project No. 17-78-10196). The authors are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments.