When a cross-linguistic tendency marries incomplete acquisition: Preposition drop in Russian spoken in Daghestan

Anastasia Panova, Tatiana Philippova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Aims and Objectives/Purpose/Research Questions: The purpose of the study is to figure out what factors condition the phenomenon of preposition drop (P-drop) in locative, directional and temporal phrases. Specifically, we investigate what kind of phrases allow P-drop in Russian spoken in Highland Daghestan and aim at understanding the rationale for this phenomenon. Design/Methodology/Approach: We conduct a quantitative analysis of data extracted from the Corpus of Russian spoken in Daghestan, which includes interviews with 53 native speakers of 15 Daghestanian and Turkic languages, amounting to 228 thousand tokens. Data and Analysis: Data from 47 (29 male; 18 female) consultants speaking Russian as a second language (L2) who produced a sufficient number of prepositional phrases (PPs) were included in the analysis. 50 PPs were collected from each speaker, resulting in a data set of 2350 PPs. Each PP was annotated for P-drop and several sociolinguistic and linguistic parameters. We fitted a logistic mixed-effects regression model to determine which parameters are significant predictors of P-drop. Findings/Conclusions: We show that the probability of P-drop depends on preposition type, phonetic context and the speaker’s fluency in Russian. We propose that the prominence of P-drop in the speech of Daghestanian highlanders results from an interplay of two factors: a typological tendency for certain spatial and temporal locations to be formally unmarked, and incomplete acquisition of the Russian prepositional system. Originality: This is the first detailed quantitative study of P-drop based on an inferential statistical analysis of data from a large number of L2 Russian speakers from Daghestan. Significance/Implications: The results show that the apparently contact-induced phenomena such as P-drop may be explained both by typological tendencies and incomplete acquisition of L2. This paper is thus important both for the typological study of this phenomenon and for L2 acquisition research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)640-667
Number of pages28
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingualism
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Prepositions
  • Russian
  • language contact
  • preposition drop
  • second language acquisition
  • typology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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