Russian Language Journal


English-language textbooks, phonology, morphology, Russian, fundamentals


Fundamentals distinguishes itself from other English-language textbooks about the structure of Russian by being usage-based, which means that the authors eschew underlying abstract forms and ordered rules and instead anchor their synchronic description of Russian phonetics, phonology, and morphology in correspondences and choices among surface forms. (ix, 56ff.) The assertion that “a usage based description […] renders a better picture of [phonetic and orthographic] reality than the generative-based description” (56; bracketed text added) is self-evidently true, and it is hard not to appreciate the difference the authors draw between generative production and what they archly call degeneration in the case of listener perception (57), that is, the unwinding of generative processes by a listener who begins with a surface form and must deduce an abstract underlying representation.