Some scholars say that Russian syntax has free word order. However, other researchers claim that the basic word order of Russian is Subject, Verb, Object (SVO). Some researchers also assert that the use of different word orders may be influenced by various factors, including positions of discourse topic and focus, and register (spoken, fiction, academic, non-academic). In addition, corpora have been shown to be useful tools in gathering empirical linguistic data, and modern advances in computing have made corpora freely available and their use widespread. The Russian National Corpus is a large corpus of Russian that is widely used and well suited to syntactic research. This thesis aims to answer three research questions: 1) If all six word orders in Russian are possible, what frequencies of each order will I find in a data sample from the Russian National Corpus? 2) Do the positions of discourse topic and focus influence word order variations? 3) Does register (spoken, fiction, academic, non-academic) influence word order variations? A sample of 500 transitive sentences was gathered from the Russian National Corpus and each one was analyzed for its word order, discourse pattern, and register. Results found that a majority of the sentences were SVO. Additionally, a majority of the sample contained the topic before the focus, and most of the sample were from the non-academic register. A chi-square analysis for each research question showed statistically significant results. This indicates that the results were not a product of chance, and that discourse patterns and register influence word order variations. These findings provide evidence that there is a predominant word order in Russian.



College and Department

Humanities; Linguistics and English Language



Date Submitted


Document Type





Russian, word order, corpus, discourse analysis



Included in

Linguistics Commons