Stress shifting from noun onto prepostion

Discussion in 'Русский (Russian)' started by Go-Moskva-go, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. Go-Moskva-go Member


    I've recently come a cross an interesting phenomenon - the shifting of stress from a noun itself
    onto the preceding preposition. Examples that I've noticed, include за́ руку, до́ смерти
    and во́ полe. I'd really appreciate it, if someone could shed some light on this phenomenon.
    Is there a rule describing which nouns this phenomenon is specific to?
    Is the shifting of stress onto the prepositon compulsory in common speech, or is it simply a stylistic
    thing that people might do to make a given sentence sound better (especially in a song, so that it would

    Спасибо заранее за все ответы! :)
  2. Maroseika Moderator

    In many (most?) cases this is compulsory, because the variant with the stressed noun has different sense:
    любить, испугаться до́ смерти (... very strong) but жить вместе до смерти (literal sense);
    держать за́ руку (to hold smb's hand) but держать за руку (to fix smb's hand not letting to go).
    And they are not interchangeable.

    However во поле is encountered only in that song and nobody speaks like that in everyday speech. Probably, this is archaic (в < въ < вън).

    More detailes here (par. 1267).
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2012
  3. mask-13 Member

    Very interesting question.
    The answer is, that in fact distinction between prepositions and prefixes in Russian is artificial. There is an orthographic convention that the same particles are treated as prefixes in some cases and as prepositions in another cases. When Russian children learn to write, they have to learn a lot of artificial rules to distinguish between prefixes and prepositions because this distinction has nothing to do with spoken language. Some adult people can make mistakes when they write, because the rules are quite complex.
    One of these rules is that "adverbs are written as a solid word".
    In all these cases of a stress shift the two words can be treated as a solid adverb, *заруку, *вополе, *досмерти, but traditionally they are treated as a preposition and a noun.
    I can give you few examples of what is traditionally treated as adverbs but could be treated as a prep + noun: заполночь, поутру.
    In old texts, say, of 18th century, you can occasionally find some of modern adverbs written separately (sorry, I cannot remember any example). Surely, on the internet you can find any of these stress shifts written as a solid word, e.g.!"заруку"&lr=213
  4. Maroseika Moderator

    Quite a doubtful assertion. The main difference between prefixes and prepositions in Russian is that no word can be inserted between a prefix and a stem. There are difficult orthographical cases, of course, especially with adverbs, but not with the words we are considering here: он взял ее за [правую] руку, в [чистом] поле, etc.
    And by the way до смерти is an adverb.

    There is no such a rule. In contrary, there is a lot of adverbs with prepositions: под руку, за рубежом, на абордаж, с азартом, etc., etc...

    No, it can't be treated as prep + noun, because the function of these wrods in the sentence is adverbial.
  5. mask-13 Member

    When I say that something is a prefix and not a preposition, I mean that once we think that something is a word, this word can be analised morphologically, and since there's no such morphological entity as a preposition, "под" in "под руку" can only be a prefix. Let us not argue about that. Let's think of whether all this adverbs are one word or a pair of words.
    I think, that once you call something an adverb, you mean that this is a word (not two words). For me an adverb is a kind of a word, and two words cannot be an adverb, no matter what syntaxic function they have. In terms of russian grammar, наречие - это часть речи. Части речи - это классы слов языка.

    So. The only thing I want to say is that we can construct different definitions of a word. If we choose "orthographical" definition (that a word is something written separately) than a strange phenomemon will occur - in some words, like "руку" in "за руку", stress falls outside of a word! From this fact I make a conclusion, that we can construct another definition of a word, that do not coincide with ortolographical conventions, and with this defintion "за руку" is one word, an adverb, and such a phenomenon as a stress outside of a word never actually occur.

    P.S. I have intentionally read all the list of cases of shifted stress on the link that you supplied, and came to a conclusion that they all can be treated as an adverb. In some cases it's possible to use them as two words as well, like "за рУку" (prep. + n.), or "зА руку" (adv.)
  6. Maroseika Moderator

    Sure not. What a strange idea? There are adverbs consisting of 3 words: на скорую руку, изо всех сил, and even of 4 words: изо дня в день.

    In terms of Russian grammar there is no limitation for the number of words constituing an adverb.

    Nothing strange, actually. There is no such a rule that every Russian word in every position must have a stress.
    Wrong premise results in wrong conclusion.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012
  7. mask-13 Member

    Why do you think that this phrases are adverbs? Is "размахивая руками и ногами" an adverb? It has the same syntactic function.
  8. Maroseika Moderator

    It's not me, it's dictionaries. But if your seriously want to know the reason, better to open new thread, I guess.


    Similar syntactical functions may be peculiar to the different parts of speech. For example, predicative nouns (as время in Время спать.) have the same syntactical function as predicative adverbs (as тяжело in Тяжело на душе); predicates can be expressed by verbs and nouns; and so on.
  9. turkjey5 Senior Member

    English - USA
    One rule is that all nouns and numerals involved are monosyllables or have initial stress in the declined form.
    For example: за + accusative (I use ' for stress:cool:)

    за' борт - monosyllable
    за' голову - normally го'лову in the accusative (initial stress in the declined form.)

    за' два - monosyllable
    за' девять - normally де'вять in the accusative (initial stress in the declined form.)

    The types of noun involved include parts of the body (e.g. голова - head), geographical features (берег - shore), other locations (город - town), time words (год - year), and some others (вид - view).
  10. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    Historically, this all depended on the stress type of the corresponding noun. The so called Slavonic circumflex accent (etymologically, from earlier Proto-Slavic recessive tone) was confined to the first syllable of the word/group of words, therefore ру'ку — за' руку — на' руку — по'д руку — о'б руку in circumflex forms, but на руке' — под руко'й etc. in forms with a non-circumflex accent. The same is valid for the end of the words as well: при'нял, о'тнял (former circumflex), but принялся', отняла' (non-circumflex). Some 1000 years ago the language lost the pich distinctions, and this stress shift became something the new generations of speakers had to memorize, hence the gradual destruction of this system. Some languages have completely abandoned this shift (Belarusian), others have generalized it (Czech), while Russian is close to confining it to idiomatic usage, though it still requires some centuries to complete.

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