A Corpus Analysis of Russian Masculine Nouns with Plural /-i/ and /-a/ Endings

AKIYAMA, Shinichi
Associate Professor
Russian Studies

1.      Introduction

    This paper’s primary topic is the preference between modern Russian masculine nouns with plural nominative endings /-i/ and /-a/. According to previous studies, some Russian masculine nouns have morphological equivalents for the plural nominative form, such as bunkery – bunkera (бункеры – бункера). I will apply a statistical method to the data from the Russian National Corpus (RNC) and analyse the preference for the ending forms of the lexicon.

2Corpus data

2.1. Targeting words of Corpus analysis

    According to Graudina et al. 2001, the following 35 words have equivalent endings /-i/ and /-a/:

al’t (альт), bunker (бункер), veer (веер), vektor (вектор), venzel’ (вензель), d’âkon (дьякон), korrektor (корректор), krendel’ (крендель), lekar’ (лекарь), mesâc (месяц), nevod (невод), otkup (откуп), otpusk (отпуск), pekar’ (пекарь), pisar’ (писарь), pojnter (пойнтер), poluton (полутон), prožektor (прожектор), pudel’ (пудель), reduktor (редуктор), sektor (сектор), stapel’ (стапель), tender (тендер), tenor (тенор), fel’d”eger’ (фельдъегерь), fligel’ (флигель), hlev (хлев), ceh (цех), škiper (шкипер), šnicel’ (шницель), šompol (шомпол), štepsel’ (штепсель), štorm (шторм), âstreb (ястреб), âčmen’ (ячмень)

2.2Russian National Corpus

    When I used the query function for the RNC, the total number of tokens was about 230 million. To collect targeted data, I used a lexico-grammatical search, entering the targeted lexicon. Concerning grammatical features, I selected the nominative and accusative cases and plural number. To eliminate the generative case forms with /-a/ ending, I manually checked all the sentences. The results from the RNC are shown below in Table 1 and 2.

Table 1. The preference of each ending form in the RNC


/-i/ ending

/-a/ ending

al’t (альт)

28 forms

0 forms

bunker (бункер)

53 forms

30 forms

veer (веер)

8 forms

151 forms

vektor (вектор)

108 forms

0 forms

venzel’ (вензель)

2 forms

112 forms

d’âkon (дьякон)

80 forms

20 forms

korrektor (корректор)

39 forms

3 forms

krendel’ (крендель)

9 forms

8 forms

lekar’ (лекарь)

89 forms

73 forms

mesâc (месяц)

4019 forms

0 forms

nevod (невод)

16 forms

51 forms

otkup (откуп)

35 forms

78 forms

otpusk (отпуск)

63 forms

300 forms

pekar’ (пекарь)


19 forms

pisar’ (писарь)

37 forms

235 forms

pojnter (пойнтер)

8 forms

1 form

poluton (полутон)

9 forms

54 forms

prožektor (прожектор)

226 forms

170 forms

pudel’ (пудель)

16 forms

0 forms

reduktor (редуктор)

17 forms

0 forms

sektor (сектор)

122 forms

121 forms

stapel’ (стапель)

4 forms

11 forms

tender (тендер)

61 forms

1 form

tenor (тенор)

6 forms

84 forms

fel’d”eger’ (фельдъегерь)

0 forms

0 forms

fligel’ (флигель)

27 forms

73 forms

hlev (хлев)

35 forms

16 forms

ceh (цех)

314 forms

282 forms

škiper (шкипер)

10 forms

17 forms

šnicel’ (шницель)

14 forms

11 forms

šompol (шомпол)

8 forms

21 forms

štepsel’ (штепсель)

3 forms

12 forms

štorm (шторм)

162 forms

42 forms

âstreb (ястреб)

76 forms

71 forms

âčmen’ (ячмень)

11 forms

0 forms


5749 forms

2067 forms

Table 2. The preference of each ending form

/-i/ ending

/-a/ ending

Russian National Corpus

5749 forms


2067 forms




    I establish four subcategories along with the preference for /-i/ and /-a/ ending forms of the word group. I applied the binomial test for the preference data of the lexicon. The significance level is 5%.

1)   both /-i/ and /-a/ ending forms are used but /-i/ ending forms are significantly preferred: bunker (бункер), d’âkon (дьякон), korrektor (корректор), lekar’ (лекарь), pekar’ (пекарь), pojnter (пойнтер), prožektor (прожектор), tender (тендер), hlev (хлев), ceh (цех), štorm (шторм)

2)   both /-i/ and /-a/ ending forms are used but /-a/ ending forms are significantly preferred: veer (веер), venzel’ (вензель), nevod (невод), otkup (откуп), otpusk (отпуск), pisar’ (писарь), poluton (полутон), stapel’ (стапель), tenor (тенор), fligel’ (флигель), šompol (шомпол), štepsel’ (штепсель)

3)   both /-i/ and /-a/ ending forms are used and significant preference between the two forms is not provided: krendel’ (крендель), sektor (сектор), škiper (шкипер), šnicel’ (шницель), âstreb (ястреб)

4)   /-a/ ending forms do not seem to be used and should be regarded as ungrammatical: al’t (альт), vektor (вектор), pudel’ (пудель), reduktor (редуктор), âčmen’ (ячмень)[1]


Graudina LK. et al. (1976, 2001), Grammatičeskaâ pravil’nost’ russkoj reči. [The Grammatical Accuracy of Russian Speech]. Moscow.

[1] Since the /-a/ ending forms of the lexicon item mesâc (месяц) are rarely found in the RNC, I omitted this lexicon item from the list. As far as the lexicon item fel’d”eger’ (фельдъегерь) is concerned, nothing can be statistically stated because no data was found even in a large-sized corpus such as the RNC.

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