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Topics in Modern (Russian) Linguistics: Conditional sentences / aspect


Admission requirements

If the class has insufficient enrollment, it will be cancelled. If you are interested in this class, please contact Titia Bouma of the Russian Studies Department. Note that knowledge of Russian is a requirement for this class. Students that are interested to follow this class, who have no command of Russian are asked to contact Dr. E.L.J. Fortuin.

Course Description

The course covers one or more specialised subjects in the field of modern (Russian) linguistics. The course will be devoted to either one of the two topics listed below.

Conditional sentences
In Russian there are many different constructions to express a condition (‘if’). In some construction a conditional adverb is used (esli), but there are also many construction without such adverb (for example sentences where the condition is expressed by an imperative, past tense, future tense without conditional marker). This course deals with the following main topics:
1. What is the meaning and function of conditional constructions? What do conditional constructions mean, and when and why are they used?
2. What different conditional constructions consist in Russian, and how do they differ in meaning and use?

During this course students will do research on conditional constructions using a corpus (National Russian Corpus), and read scholarly papers on conditional constructions in Russian and in other languages.

One of the most intriguing categories of Russian (and other Slavic languages) is verbal aspect. In Russian all verbs (irrespective of the tense or mood that they express) are marked for aspect. The term ‘aspect’ is in fact assumed to be a translation of the Russian term vid (‘view’). By using either an imperfective or a perfective aspect of the verb, the speaker expresses a particular ‘view’ on the event expressed by the verb. Many different scholars have proposed very general definitions of the difference between the perfective and the imperfective aspect in Russian (e.g. the perfective conceptualizes the event in its totality; the imperfective does not conceptualize the event in its totality). Nevertheless, it has been the topic of heated debated what exactly are the rules of aspect. Furthermore, in modern linguistics there has been an increasing interest in the relation between the category of aspect in Slavic, and similar categories in other languages. To give an example, do English, French or non-Indo-European languages also have aspect? What are the differences and similarities between aspect in Slavic and similar linguistic phenomena, such as Aktionsart?

Course objectives

The acquisition of specialised knowledge of and insight into one or more aspects of the discipline. Students will be informed about more specific course objectives at the beginning of the course.


See roosters

Mode of instruction


Assessment methode

Oral presentation and paper.


This is a Blackboard-supported course.

Reading list

To be announced.


Through uSis.

Contact information

Dr. E.L.J. Fortuin.