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Pedagogical Applications

This database is not only helpful for linguists doing research on Russian aspect; it can also serve as a valuable resource for pedagogical purposes. The database is a reliable source of reference information for people learning Russian as a second language. It can be used by students in both beginning and advanced stages of their studies. The database is also a highly useful resource for teachers of Russian as a foreign language.

Virtually all textbooks of Russian for second language learners focus on the concept of the aspectual pair. However, determining whether two verbs constitute an aspectual pair is not always easy, since dictionaries often disagree in their evaluations of given verbs. The database developed in the "Exploring Emptiness" project offers tables summarizing the information found in major dictionaries of Russian. The database facilitates search queries for aspectual pairs, allows the user to check for the existence of variants, provides information about the conjugation type of each verb, and helps the user track possible connections between the semantic class of the verb and other parameters. Citations of verb frequency and a tagging system help the learner orient to peculiarities of usage.

A convenient navigation system, the option of sorting results and the completeness of the available information make the database a unique tool for verifying facts crucial to creation of grammatical exercises for learners of Russian. These exercises can range from simple traditional types that focus on memorization and practice with aspectual pairs, to complex ones, that highlight various facts of word-formation and require careful grammatical analysis (cf. examples below). The latter type of exercises don`t have unique correct answers, but rather guide the user toward deeper linguistic analysis.

Examples of possible exercises:

  1. Choose the verb that has the most neutral meaning in the given context:
    1. Сегодня на ужин я собираюсь … курицу.
      1. прожарить
      2. пережарить
      3. пожарить
      4. нажарить
    2. Мальчика вчера … соседская собака.
      1. покусала
      2. искусала
      3. закусала
      4. перекусала
    3. После обеда мама … посуду.
      1. перемыла
      2. умыла
      3. намыла
      4. вымыла
    4. Когда будешь варить картошку, не забудь … воду.
      1. посолить
      2. насолить
      3. просолить
      4. засолить

  2. Try to explain why all three prefixed verbs can serve as aspectual partners for the same imperfective verb.

    бить: побить
    бить: пробить
    бить: разбить

    Analyze the following examples:

    1. Петины одноклассники бьют Петю каждый день. Вчера его опять…….
    2. Голливудские фильмы всегда бьют все рекорды кинопроката. Последний фильм уже …… все рекорды.
    3. Мои соседи делают ремонт. Вчера они так сильно били в стену, что ……… дыру.
    4. Мишина жена, когда нервничает, бьёт посуду. На прошлой неделе она ………. любимую вазу Мишиной мамы.

    Is it possible to use all of the prefixed verbs in all of the examples above? If not, how can we describe the distribution of prefixed verbs?

  3. What could be the reason that all of these aspectual partners are formed from the corresponding base verbs using the prefix о-? What do they have in common?

    обанкротиться, обесчестить, онеметь, одичать, ожиреть, озябнуть, окольцевать, окаменеть, окраситься, онеметь, опалить, опухнуть, осиротеть, охаметь

    Think about the meanings of the preposition о and the prefix о-. Are these meanings present in all of the verbs listed above?

    Do these verbs share something in terms of their meanings?

    Answer: The majority of the verbs belong to two semantic classes: "change state" and "physiology"

    Can you find more verbs like these?

    Example of an answer: оглохнуть, оледенеть, опьянеть, ослабеть

  4. Find all the verbs that form their perfective partners exclusively with the prefix от-. Can you organize the verbs into groups? Consider various ways that it is possible to group the verbs.

    1. In order to find verbs that form their perfective partners exclusively with a single prefix, make sure that in the "variation" parameter "1 prefix" is chosen.
    2. Which semantic classes of verbs form their perfective partners with the prefix от-? In order to find out, return to the search menu and check the search term "semantic class".
    3. What major groups of verbs can you identify? In order to work this out, sort the search results according to semantic class. You can do this by clicking on the button at the top of the column labeled "semantic class".
    4. What conjugation do verbs prefixed in от- follow? In order to find out, check "morphological class" in the search menu and then sort the search results according to morphological class.

  5. Find all the verbs that have maximum prefix variation. Which verbs are they? (In order to complete this task, check "variation" on the search page and instead of "all" in the variation menu, select the maximum number of variants, which is six.)

    Answer: 3 verbs - мазать, топить, травить

  6. Find the verbs with the highest and the lowest frequency that form their perfective partner using the most common prefix.

    1. In order to complete this task, first you need to determine which prefix forms the most perfective partners. You can do this by selecting each prefix in turn and conducting searches. Each search will tell you how many verbs form their perfective partner with the given prefix. This way you can find the most common prefix.

      Answer: по-

    2. After selecting this prefix, sort the search results according to frequency.

      Answer: From the perspective of the imperfective base verbs, the most frequent verb is идти and the least frequent verbs (with a frequency of 0) are: длиннеть, дурнеть, злотить, кумиться, простеть, рябеть, сиветь, холоднеть, храбреть. From the perspective of the perfective partner verbs, the verb пойти is the most frequent in this search, and подлиннеть is the least frequent.