OBA ‘both’, a unique Russian word

2021. №1, 57-69

Lidija N. Iordanskaja
Igor A. Mel’čuk
Observatoire de linguistique Sens-Texte, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada; igor.melcuk@umontreal.ca


The paper offers a lexicographic description of the three lexemes that constitute the vocable OBA ‘both’, which is unique in Russian; a linguistic justification of this description is proposed, in particular, a discussion of the vocable’s constituency (сan a vocable include lexemes of different parts of speech?). In connection with the lexicographic definitions of oba lexemes, the semantemes ‘vse1’ = ‘all [people]’ and ‘dva2’ = ‘two [books]’ are examined. The lexeme oba1 (obe tablicy ‘both tables’) is a defective quantitative numeral; the lexemes OBA2a/2b (Oba/Obe uže uexali ‘Both.men/Both.women have already left’) are pronominal nouns. Special syntactic constructions and morphological particularities of the three OBA lexemes are described.

For citation:

Iordanskaja L. N., Mel’čuk I. A. Oba ‘both’, a unique Russian word. Voprosy Jazykoznanija, 2021, 1: 57–69.


The text of the present paper was read and commented upon by Leonid Iomdin, Svetlana Krylosova, Polina Mikhel and Anna Zaliznjak. We would like to express here our most heartfelt gratitude to them as well as to the anonymous reviewers of Voprosy Jazykoznanija for their constructive suggestions and remarks, which we tried to account for to the best of our abilities.