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New perspectives on old problems: A Hallidayan approach to copulative constructions in Russian


By: Mark Shuttleworth

The article deals with certain aspects of Russian copula clauses from a Hallidayan perspective. The aims are twofold: firstly, to investigate whether his analysis provides a description of the Russian data which is clearer than those which have been previously available, and secondly to consider in what ways the original model may need to be modified in order to account for the different situation which we find in Russian.

The greater part of the study is taken up by a discussion of the Attributive and Identifying categories of the Intensive Relational clause, and more specifically the usefulness of the functions of Token and Value in a description of Russian clauses. The analysis, which is based on a corpus of authentic data, produces three general conclusions. Firstly, the apparently consistent conflation of Complement with Value proves to be of use in the disambiguation of syntactically unmarked Subject and Complement. Secondly, since the Russian syntax cuts across the English semantic categories reflected in the model, the possibility of extending the concepts of Token and Value to take in Attributive clauses is discussed. Finally, the point is made that the Attributive/Identifying opposition finds little syntactic reflection in Russian; however, the hope is expressed that it might be possible to identify other semantic distinctions which are more germane to Russian.

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