Maria Nordrum: PhD project

Dissertation title: “Together and apart: Perfective verbs with a prefix and the semelfactive suffix -nu- in Contemporary Standard Russian”

Supervisors: Tore Nesset and Laura A. Janda


This dissertation investigates Russian perfective verbs with a prefix and the semelfactive suffix –nu-, such as zaxlopnut’ ‘slam shut’, for the sake of simplicity referred to as “Pref-Nu verbs”. Pref-Nu verbs have received only marginal attention in the scholarly literature, and in the dissertation a main goal is therefore to shed light on their distribution and productivity in Contemporary Standard Russian, as well as the type of verb clusters and semantic classes they represent. A second main goal is to compare the behavior of Pref-Nu verbs with the behavior of perfective verbs that have only one of the two relevant affixes, i.e. only a prefix, such as zaxlopat’ ‘begin to slam’, or only the semelfactive suffix –nu- , such as xlopnut’ ‘slam, clap, bang once’. All of these questions are explored with data from the Russian National Corpus (years 1950-2017), and, as a general tendency, Pref-Nu verbs are found to differ from the other two verb types in that they express a single “quantum” of an action that yields some result. The choice between Pref-Nu verbs and other perfectives is furthermore explored through an informant experiment that focuses on cases of near-synonymy between related verbs. The results of the experiment indicate that none of the verbs are fully synonymous, although their semantic differences are often subtle.

Defense: March 27, 2020

Committee: Östen Dahl (Stockholm University), Alan Cienki (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), Natalia Mitrofanova (UiT The Arctic University of Norway)

Available at MUNIN:



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