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Arto Mustajoki

Arto Samuel Mustajoki
Born, December 20, 1948, Tampere
Four children, 11 grandchildren

Master of Arts 1970 (German Philology), PhD 1981 (Russian language), University of Helsinki

Professor of Russian Language and Literature 1982–2016, University of Helsinki
Vice-Rector 1992–1998, University of Helsinki
Dean 1988–1992 and 2014–2016, Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki
Member of the Board of the Academy of Finland 2001–2006, 2014-
Chair of the Research Council for Culture and Society (Academy of Finland) 2001–2006
Chair of the Board of the Academy of Finland 2010–2014
Vice-President of Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, 2006-2008, President 2008-2010
Member of the Finnish Research and Innovation Council 2011-2015
International Association of Teachers of Russian Language and Literature (MAPRYAL), Member of Board 1981–, Secretary General 1991–2003, Vice-President 2003–

Research Student, Leningrad State University 1971–1973
Visiting Fellow, Cambridge University 1990–1991
Invited guest lectures abroad: Moscow, Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Saratov, Simferopol, Almaty, Ulan-Bataar, Bishkek, Tartu, Tallinn, Budapest, Warsaw, Sofia, Basel, Oxford, Gothenburg

Recent publications

Full list of publications as of 2008

Publications in PDF-format

The most cited publication

Curriculum Vitae

Honours and awards
“Orden Druzhby Narodov,” President Gorbatshov 1990
Member of Finnish Academy of Science and Letters 1991
Commander's Cross of the Order of the Lion of Finland 1992
Honorary Doctor, Russian Academy of Science 1995
Honorary Professor, Moscow State University 1999
“Orden Druzhby,” President Medvedev 2010
Commander of the Order of the White Rose of Finland 2013

Photo: Veikko Somerpuro
Written by Arto Mustajoki
Revised by Matthew Billington

Problem-oriented research

Stress patterns of the Russian noun

Many scholars who do research on foreign languages start their careers by concentrating on issues which they find difficult. So did I; although, I did not address Russian verb aspects, as many of my colleagues have done. Instead, my doctoral dissertation concerned the stress patterns of Russian nouns, which are a big challenge for non-native speakers learning Russian. Why do Russians say mésto but in plural mestá, why ruká and rukí, ruké but rúku and in plural rúki, why stol, stolá but stul, stúla? In my doctoral dissertation, I tried to create a systematic description of stress patterns and find clues for guessing which were the most probable in words belonging to different categories.

The general idea in my notation of Russian noun stress patterns is very simple. The code (or name) of each pattern consists of two letters, the first denoting a singular and the second a plural form. The letter A is for stem stress, B for stress on the ending. Thus, AB is the stress pattern for slóvo ‘word’, which has stem stress in the singular but end stress in all plural forms (slová, slovám etc.). BA is the contrary case, e.g. oknó ‘window’, but ókna. AA and BB represent patterns without a change in stress. Apart from the singular-plural opposition, there is another opposition between the basic form (nominative) and other cases. This takes place both in the singular and plural, cf. stol, stolá, stolú ‘table’ (shift in singular) and párni, parnéj, parnjám ‘young man’ (shift in plural) . In this way we get five further stress patterns AX, BX, XA, XB and XX. Following this principle we obtain the main stress patterns, as in table 1 (from Scando-Slavica 1981, 27: 200). The numbers of nouns belonging to different stress patterns are based on A.A. Zaliznjak’s Grammatical dictionary.

The exceptional and very rare shift from the end stress to stem stress in the feminine singular accusative (cf. zimá, zímu) has the symbol Xa. Only around 30 nouns have this half-paradigm. They are divided evenly between XaA (zimá, zímu; zímy, zímam) and XaX (ruká, rúku; rúki, rukám).

In a separate article, I discussed the question of so-called “uslovnoe udarenie”: whether stress should be interpreted as lying on the zero ending in the nominative case of words like stol, stolá. Another article is devoted to the connection between the frequency of a given word and the possibility of it having mobile stress.

My doctoral thesis was published in Russian:

Типы ударения имен существительных в современном русском литературном языке и их минимизация в учебных целях [Types of stresses of the noun in contemporary literary Russian and their minimization in educational purposes]. Докт. дисс. Хельсинки 1980, 386 с.

Some concrete topics have been discussed in separate articles:

Object case selection in Russian negative clauses

Another difficult grammatical feature of Russian in which I have been interested is case selection in negative clauses. The phenomenon itself is mentioned in every Russian grammar book, e.g. Oleg ne tšital knigu (accustive) ~ Oleg ne tšital knigi (genitive) ‘Oleg didn’t read the book’. In many contexts, use of the “wrong” case is not a big mistake, but, on the other hand, there are many situations where the other case sounds odd. A great number of researchers before me have tried to clarify the mechanism of case selection. What I have attempted to do is address the question by applying two different methods.

In the first study, I conducted an experiment among students at Moscow State University. The aim was to discover the influence of certain factors. Statistical evidence on the basis of real language use is not, as such, a sufficient tool for a proof of influence, because in every sentence several factors always simultaneously coexist. I took ten factors mentioned in the literature and compiled ten paired examples for each; in one of them the factor in hand existed, but in the alternative variant of the clause it was missing. I had two groups of students so that the test subjects always saw only one of the variants. They were asked whether they preferred the genitive or accusative or whether both were equally acceptable in respect to the hundred clauses in the test. The results showed that most of the factors I had selected had a high or relatively high influence on case choice, but there were also some factors (among others, the aspect of the predicate) which had no statistically significant influence.

Another study I conducted included a thorough statistical analysis of 4000 clauses taken from contemporary Russian texts. I examined some 50 possible factors, and I also analysed their combinations. This resulted in some new findings. It appeared that reverse word order, as such, is not a strong factor in preferring the use of the accusative; rather, what was important was the initial position of the object. An interesting small detail was the very strong preference for the genitive when the object had positive meaning (as slava ‘honour’, ‘reputation’, uspeh ‘success’, udacha ‘success’, ‘luck’).

Apparently, I could not reveal all the secrets of the object selection, because research on this question still continues.

The both books on this topic are available in PDF format:

Падеж дополнения при отрицании в русском языке: поиски новых методологических приемов в изучении старой проблемы (= Slavica Helsingiensia 2). Хельсинки 1985, 188 с.

Case Selection for the Direct Object in Russian Negative Clauses. Part II: Report on a Statistical Analysis (= Slavica Helsingiensia 9) (with Hannes Heino / Viimaranta). Helsinki 1991, 249 pp.

The use of ещё ‘still’, ‘as late as’ and уже ‘already’ in Russian

The third research question which arose from my own experience of learning Russian was the “odd” usage of the words eštšo (ещё) ‘still’, ‘as late as’ and uže (уже) ‘already’. Here, of course, my interpretation of strangeness comes from my Finnish background. In Russian they sometimes use ещё when we would use the Finnish equivalent for уже, and уже when we would use the equivalent of только ‘only’, ‘not until’, e.g. Еще мальчиком Игорь знал три языка, Никита приехал уже после похорон. Of course, I was not the first scholar to pay attention to this phenomenon, but I collected a rather large amount of material, which enabled me to find some new explanations for this kind of usage.

The article is on this issue is based on a paper in the 10th World Congress of Slavists:

О семантике русского темпорального ещё // Доклады финской делегации на Х съезде славистов (= Studia Slavica Finlandensia 5). Helsinki 1988, 99-141.


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