Russian Language Journal


Oscar E. Swan


American, Russian, pedagogy, linguistics, textbook


Roman Jakobson’s 1948 single-stem analysis of the Russian verb inspired many imitations and applications around the Slavic world, especially in American Russian pedagogy, where the names Alexander Lipson, Charles Townsend, and Maurice Levin come most readily to mind (see References). The first is a by-now dated two-part textbook series, grammatically innovative for its time, that is still available on the internet (although as far as I know it is not actually used anywhere), while the applied linguistic works by Townsend and Levin are still in print and are commonly used in graduate courses on the structure of Russian. It is the admittedly small group of participants in such courses that is the intended target audience of this paper, although I hope it will also be of interest to those who are interested in Russian structural linguistic issues generally, whether or not these issues are of relevance to the undergraduate teaching/learning situation. In further discussion it will be assumed that the reader is generally conversant with Jakobson’s system in either Townsend’s or Levin’s slightly varying treatments of it. We will not be concerned here with minor details or with any textbooks that apply the single-stem approach to lower levels of teaching, among which Russian Stage One: Live from Russia! (Lekić et al.) is prominent.