Scientific journal
European Journal of Natural History
ISSN 2073-4972


Shigurov V.V. 1 Shigurova T.A. 1
1 Ogarev Mordovia State University
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The paper explores the gradual nature of transposition converting verbs in the form of the 2nd person of the indicative mood into an inter-part-of-speech semantico-syntactic category of parenthetically modal words and phrases. The authors define the characteristics of the word forms, representing different stages of modalation: A (the core set of verbs with modally complicated semantics manifesting a range of typical differential properties of a given part of speech); Ab (a periphery of verbs, expressed by word forms in the function of the main predicate of the complex sentence with subordinate complement clause); ab (zone of hybrid verb-modal structures in the function of the predicate and parenthetic-modal component of the utterance); aB (periphery of verbal modal words in the function of the introductory component of semi-compound sentences) – B (the core set of parenthetic modal words that are no longer in semantic connection with initial verbal lexemes). The results of the study can be used to create transpositional grammar of the Russian language, and to teach morphology and syntax of modern Russian language in higher school.

The investigation of mechanisms transposing linguistic units of different parts of speech into an inter-part-of-speech semantic-syntactic category of parenthetic modal units is one of the crucial tasks of the Russian transpositional grammar (see for instance [4–8]). Recent research demonstrates that this process involves nouns, adjectives, adverbs, verbs, etc. A significant group of parenthetically modal words and phrases is represented by verbs in the predicative (видишь, говорят, посудите – you know, they say, judge for yourself, etc.) (1), substantive (видать, знать – looks like (perhaps), probably, most likely etc.) (2), attribute [short past participle as part of an analytic passive не в обиду будет сказано – no offence meant; adjectivised form: видимо, знамо (дело) – apparently, undoubtedly etc.] (3) and semi-predicative representations (откровенно говоря, грубо выражаясь – frankly speaking, putting it bluntly, etc.) (about the concept of representation of the Russian verb see [1, p. 94–115]) (4). Cf. contexts of modulation:

1) (а) С особенной яростью, говорят, он выбрасывал из лодки ошибочно попавших к нему русских с недопропитым металлическим рублём в кулаке (Ф. Искандер. Курортная идиллия);

(б) With special fury, they say, he was throwing out of the boat the Russians with metal under-drunk-away rouble in their fists, mistakenly taken by him (F. Iskander. Holiday resort idyll);

2) (а) Война продолжается и долго, видать, ещё не кончится (В. Астафьев. Обертон);

(б) The war goes on and is not going to end soon, you know. (V. Astafyev. Overtone);

3) (а) Собственных детей у него, видимо, не было (А. Волос. Недвижимость);

(б) He has not apparently had children of his own (A. Volos. Real estate);

4) (а) Я же, мягко выражаясь, был чересчур общителен (С. Довлатов. Заповедник).

(б) I, on the contrary, putting it mildly, was too sociable (S. Dovlatov. Wildlife reserve).

Results and discussion

A special subgroup among modalates are formations correlative with verbs in the forms of the 2nd person of indicative and imperative moods. They are characterised by parenthetic modal use in an independent position and in stock phrases (cf: видишь / видишь ли; знаешь / знаешь что) – see / you see; you know / you know that). The verbal modalates of this type allow the subject of mode (modus) to focus the listeners’ attention on certain aspects of information (you understand, you imagine, you know, etc) (5), to assess the degree of its authenticity (perhaps, probably, looks like, most likely ect.) (6), and being included in a parallel process of interjectivation – to express emotional attitude to the stated facts, for instance, feelings of dissatisfaction, indignation; cf: (don’t you see, don’t you understand etc) (7). Cf.:

5) (а) Мне воздухи нужны, а не советы! Грины, понимаешь? Повторяю: день-ги! (А. Волос. Недвижимость);

(б) Pieces of air I need, not pieces of advice! The greens, you know? I repeat: the mo-ney! (A. Volos. Real estate);

6) (а) Но с этим командиром, пожалуй, никакого отдыха не получится (В. Быков. Болото);

(б) But with this commander, I suppose, we will have no respite at all (V. Bykov. Swamp);

7) (а) Я прошлый раз с верхотуры сорвался, позвоночник повредил и то себе не позволил. А у неё, видишь ли, голова! Тебе что, ей думать? (Г.Я. Бакланов. В месте светлом, в месте злачном, в месте покойном).

(б) Last time I fell from the upper bed boards, damaged my spine but even didn’t let it to myself. And she, you see, has a headache! You don’t need it here to think with? (G.Y. Baklanov. In the light place, in the bad place, in the quiet place).

Transposition of finite forms of verbs such as you see/ don’t you see into the inter-part-of-speech semantic-syntactic category of parenthetically modal words and expressions has a gradual character. The main stages of their modalation can be represented graphically as the links of a chain on the transitivity scale: [A / V(erb) (core of verbs) – Ab / V(erb) m(od) (periphery of verbs) – Ab / v(erb) m(od) (zone of hybrid verbal-modal structures) – aB / v(erb) M(od) (periphery of modal words) – B / M(od) (core of modal words]. The links of scale manifest, on the one hand, the initial and final points in the movement of word forms from verbs to modal words, and on the other hand, the zone of syncretism with peripheral and hybrid structures that synthesise in different proportions attributes of interacting words classes. We shall illustrate the stages of modalation of the verb you see with a few comments.

Stage A / V(erb) introduces contexts with prototypical (nuclear) word form manifesting a number of basic differential attributes of the verb as part of speech in the position of a principal member in a mononuclear sentence; cf. a typical context:

8) (а) На фронте какие-то секунды видишь освещённый край немецкой обороны, но, когда ракета сникает и полоса погружается во враждебную темноту, память в мельчайших подробностях восстанавливает только что увиденное, расширяет высвеченный на секунды круг – и человек ночью видит то, чего не узрел ясным днём (А. Азольский. Облдрамтеатр).

(б) In the lines you can see the illuminated edge of the German defense for a few seconds, but when the pistol-light goes out and the strip gets immersed in a hostile darkness, the memory in minutest details restores what has just seen, extends a circle flashed out for a second – and the man at night sees what he didn’t see clearly in the daylight (A. Azolsky. The regional dramatic theatre).

The stage Ab / V(erb) m(od) presents the contexts with the peripheral verbal word form making, relatively speaking, a step towards parenthetically modal words and expressions. Such a word form often functions as a principal member in a structurally incomplete main body of a complex sentences, in which there is a complement clause with a conjunction that. Cf. typical context:

9) (а) Видишь, что старшего товарища заносит, и сидишь, как воды в рот набрал (А. Маринина. Последний рассвет).

(б) You see (are aware) that your elder companion is going over the top with it, and keep sitting as if clamp up (A. Marinina. The last dawn).

The stage ab /v(erb) m(od), introducing contexts with intermediate (hybrid) word form falls into two substages: ab / v(erb) m(od) 1 and ab / v(erb) m(od) 2:

Substages ab / v(erb) m(od) 1 correspond to the contexts with prepositional usage of hybrid see in asyndetic complex sentences with explanatory relations between predicative parts, punctuated by “colon”.

10) (а) Видишь: я её люблю до безумия… и я думаю, я надеюсь, она также меня любит… (М.Ю. Лермонтов. Герой нашего времени).

(б) See, I love her madly... and I think, I hope she also loves me... (M. Yu. Lermontov. A hero of our time).

The word form see is the principal member of the mononuclear predicative structure of a complex sentence.

The substage ab / v(erb) m(od) 2 depicts the contexts with prepositional use of a hybrid see in transitional constructions, synthesising attributes of an asyndetic complex sentence and a simple sentence with complicating introductory component. Parts of such sentence are separated from each other by a comma:

11) (а) Видишь, ни то ни сё, тридцать семь и две (А. Солженицын. Один день Ивана Денисовича).

(б) See, neither this nor that, thirty seven and two degrees centigrade (A. Solzhenitsyn. One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich).

In such contexts the hybrid used prepositively combines in almost equal proportions the properties of a verb [the meaning of action, expressed in categories of aspect, voice, mood, time, and person; the category of number; the syntactic role of a principal member in a sentence, etc.] and a modal word [a sentence with subjective modal meaning of the logical evaluation of the stated in the function of an introductory component; specific prosodic pattern: faster speech rate, a lower tone of voice, etc.]. Syncretism is manifested in such cases not only through the hybrid, verbal-modal word forms see, but also through the syntactic structure in which it was used. Its transitional nature is due to the synthesis of properties of an asyndetic complex sentence and mononuclear complicated sentence, with a separate introductory construction.

It should be added that in a parenthetic situation grammatical forms of hybrid see have two types of use:

a) an opposed one (person, number; cf: видишь / видите; видишь / вижу – you see / I see; without the form of the 3rd person in the parenthetic modal use: *видит, *видят –*he sees *they see;

b) a settled one, determined by the context of parenthesis (aspect, voice, mood, time) (about the types of grammatical forms, see, for instance [2, p. 97–102; 3, p. 34–36]). The latter is accompanied with the isolation of the forms of active voice, indicative, present time of the relevant categories, their syntactic isolation.

The stage aB / v(erb) M(od) is represented by the contexts with a peripheral modalate that does not break the semantic identity of initial verbal lexeme. It is always in an inter – and rarely in a postposition, acting as an introductory component of a simple sentence with a complicating component:

Эту задачу, видишь, нам сейчас не решить, давай отложим ее на завтра.

This task, as you see, we are unable to solve now, let’s put it off till tomorrow.

The modalate see retains the syncretism of a verb and a modal word properties to the stage aB / v(erb) M(od).

The stage B introduces the contexts of use of a core (nuclear) modalate see, that has lost a semantic link with the verb to see which occurs most often when used with a particle if/whether:

12) (а) Это, видишь ли, не так просто, как может показаться на первый взгляд...; Видишь ли, малыш, если бы я жил три жизни, я бы одну просидел в тюрьме, другую – отдал тебе, а третью прожил бы сам – как хочу (В. Шукшин. Калина красная); Видишь ли, у Льва есть большой недостаток – он упрям (Ю. Трифонов. Дом на набережной); Есть, видишь ли, люди, которым очень не нравится город… (В. Шукшин. Печки-лавочки); Видишь ли, папа… – промямлил я, и вдруг меня осенило: Понимаешь, есть у меня дружок, он служит на научной шхуне (В. Аксенов. Пора, мой друг, пора); Демидов, видишь, и то знал через своих доглядчиков, что Юрко Шмель испытывает какой-то новый камень (П.П. Бажов. Шелковая горка).

(б) This, as you see, is not as easy as it might seem at first glance...; You know, buddy, if I had three lives, I would have lived one serving time in prison, the other one I’d have given to you, and the third one would have lived myself – the way I want to (V. Shukshin. Cranberry bush); You see, the Lion has a big drawback – he is stubborn (Yu. Trifonov. The house on the embankment); There, you see, are people who really don’t like the city... (V. Shukshin. Pechki-Lavochki); You see, dad... – I mumbled and suddenly it dawned on me: you know, I have a friend, he serves on the scientific schooner (V. Aksenov. It is high time, my friend, high time); Even Demidov, as you see, knew very well through his informers that Yurko Smel is testing some new stone (P.P. Bazhov. Silk hill).

All stages of modalation (except the zone of a core set of modal words and phrases) the verb to see (you see) remains the lexical semantics of perception, and the object of perception is in the range of vision of the participants of the dialogue. Cf. the depicture of a river with a sharp turn, in utterances with a finite verb, representing different stages of the transitivity scale:

The stage A / V(erb): Can you see a sharp turn of the river ahead? (a core (nuclear) verb-predicate with complicated modal semantics) > Stage Ab / V(erb) m(od): Don’t you see that the river turns sharply to the right? (peripheral verb-predicate, representing the modus frame in the main part of the complex sentence) > Stage ab / v(erb) m(od) 1: See: the river turns sharply to the right. (hybrid verbal-modal formation in the predicate function that represents the modus frame in the first predicative part of an asyndetic complex sentence) > The stage aB / v(erb) m(od) 2: See, the river turns sharply to the right? (a hybrid verbal-modal formation in the syncretic function of a predicate and an introductory word representing a modus frame in the transient structure, where properties of an asyndetic complex sentence and a simple sentence with complicating introductory component are combined) > Stage aB / v(erb) M(od): the river turns sharply to the right, can you see? (peripheral verbal modalate in the function of an introductory word representing the modus frame in a simple sentence with a complicating introductory component) > Stage B / M(od): Well, you know the river once made a sharp turn there. When we get there, you’ll be able to see this... (nuclear (core) modalate in the function of an introductory component of an utterance).

At the stage of the core set of parenthetically-modal words a verb completely loses the meaning of perception of a subject and the object of perception per se is absent at the moment of speaking: the comment clause don’t you know/ you know acts here as a blank insert, which is used by a speaker to attract the attention of a listener to the given fact. Please, note that the extreme degree of semantic departure from the verbs under modalation are demonstrated by single formations with the meaning of assumption looks like (I know him); perhaps (he’s right); most likely (he will come, if promised).

At the stage B / M(od) the desemantised modalates such as see/you know can fall under the influence of other classes of words – interjections, conjunctions and particles.

Thus, in case of parallel interjectivation the verbal modalates become functionally closer to etiquette (6) and emotive interjections (7), positioning themselves in the area of interaction between two parts of speech (verb, interjection) and inter-part-of-speech category (class) of parenthetically modal units. Cf.:

13) (а) К сожалению, я не приду. Сегодня, видишь ли, я обещал быть на дне рождения моего друга (просьба извинить, простить за вынужденный отказ);

(б) Unfortunately, I won’t come. Today, you know, I promised to be at the birthday party of my friend (a request to excuse, to apologise for the enforced refusal);

14) (а) Устал он, видите ли, а остальные не устали? (выражение возмущения, негодования по поводу чего-либо).

(б) Tired he is, you see, and the rest are not? (an expression of indignation, outrage about something).

Interjectivation of word forms such as excuse my…, I apologise can be seen in cases when the speaker expresses a feeling of regret, trying to soften the listener’s reaction to negative information about him:

15) (а) Да что вы, Захар Миронович, вы еще, простите, па-ца-ан! (Д. Рубина. Белая голубка Кордовы).

(б) Indeed, Zakhar Mironovich, you are, excuse my words, young-ster! (D. Rubina. White female dove of Cordoba).

Functional convergence with emotive interjections occurs in cases when the speaker tries to establish contact with the interlocutor and simultaneously express the emotional attitude of protest, disagreement with something:

16) (а) Извините, но на подобную ерунду у меня нет времени! (В. Попов. Очаровательное захолустье).

(б) I do apologise, but for such nonsense I have no time! (V. Popov. A charming lonely spot).

In case of parallel conjunctivisation the verbal modalates express the meaning of assumption, and functionally are getting closer to concessive conjunctions such as although; though:

17) (а) А пожалуй, все еще может измениться – рано делать выводы (≈ ’хотя’).

б) And perhaps, everything may change – too early to draw conclusions (≈ ’though’).

In case of parallel particulation the verbal modalates are used with pronouns that developed the qualitative semantics, and are getting functionally closer to emphatic particles:

18) (а) Знаешь, какое там было напряжение…

(б) Just imagine what tension there was...


From what has been stated so far it follows that the modalation degree of finite forms of verbs such as you see vary in different contexts, which is proven graphically by the scale of transitivity. The semantic shift from the verb is far more evident with involvement of word forms into several transposition processes at the level of parts of speech and inter-parts-of-speech category of parenthetically modal units, i.e. when combining modalation with interjectivation, conjunctivilisation and particulation.

The paper is prepared in the framework of the project “Comprehensive study of modalation as a type of gradual transposition of linguistic units into semantic-syntactic category of parenthetically modal words”, performed with financial support of Russian Humanities Foundation (grant № 15-04-00039а).

The work is submitted to the International Scientific Conference «Fundamental research», Czech Republic (Prague), May 10–16, 2016, came to the editorial office оn 19.04.2016.