The purpose of this research was to test the predictions of the Accessibility Hierarchy (AH) theory (Keenan & Comrie, 1977) applying it to the Russian language. According to this theory, relative clauses (RC) are acquired in a fixed unidirectional order: from subject (S) - the highest (unmarked) and more susceptible to relativization position - to object of comparative (OCOM) - the lowest (marked) and less susceptible to relativization position. Since some researchers (Hamilton, 1994) claim that the AH is multidirectional rather than unidirectional, this study takes into consideration these findings as well. The present study attempts to determine (a) if learners of the Russian language are able to make generalizations about more unmarked RC positions after receiving instruction only on a relatively marked relative clause position (in this study it is OPR - object of a preposition), and (b) if instruction on unmarked relative clause position facilitates learners' ability to generalize that learning to marked relative clauses. Participants of the study were Brigham Young University students studying Russian as a second language. Two groups, the basic treatment group (BG) and the complex treatment group (CG) with a total of fifty-four subjects, completed pretests and posttests, each of which included two elicitation tasks: a combination test (CT) and a grammaticality judgment test (GJT). Both groups received instruction between the tests. The BG received instruction on the subject (S), the direct object (DO), and the indirect object (IO) RC positions. The CG received instruction only on the OPR position. Three types of error, incorrect adjacency, incorrect morphological RC ending, and pronoun retention, were analyzed separately. In addition, the CT investigated the acquisition of pied-piping structure in the OPR and GEN types. The results of the research support Hamilton's (1994) findings and suggest that generalization is clearly not unidirectional. Regardless of type of instruction the subjects of both groups generalized their learning in both directions.



College and Department

Humanities; Center for Language Studies



Date Submitted


Document Type





Language acquisition, the Russian language, The Accessibility Hierarchy, Relative Clauses