xxvi + 361

Time machines do not exist, but books are good substitutes. This book takes you two thousand years back in time and explains how the Russian language came to be the way it is by reviewing all major changes in the grammar and sound system. In addition to chapters on syntax, morphology, and phonology, the book offers brief introductions to Russian history, medieval writing and literature, the theory of historical linguistics, and the Old Novgorod dialect. Appendices with morphological tables and chronologies of sound laws make the book useful as a reference tool. How Russian Came to Be the Way It Is is written as a textbook for graduate students of Slavic and Russian linguistics, but it is also useful for specialists of Russian literature, Russian history, or general linguistics who would like to learn more about the history of the Russian language. No previous exposure to Old Rusian or Old Church Slavonic is required, but the book presupposes basic knowledge of Modern Russian.

"Tore Nesset’s book constitutes an unequivocally successful attempt to make the evolution of Russian as accessible as possible to students," Journal of Historical Linguistics (below).

Book Reviews

Review by Iván Igartua in Journal of Historical Linguistics, vol. 6, issue 1


In terms of the morphosyntax, semantics, and pragmatics of its verbal system, Macedonian differs significantly from both Bulgarian and from Bosnian / Croatian / Montenegrin / Serbian (BCMS). Macedonian is closer to Bulgarian than to BCMS both in its preservation of the aorist/imperfect aspectual opposition and in its encoding of speaker attitude in the verb (a phenomenon sometimes labeled evidential). However, Macedonian has developed these and other categories—especially the resultative in ima—differently from Bulgarian, and Macedonian is thus an important and distinct part of the general Slavic and Balkan linguistic picture. This analysis of the Macedonian indicative system was the first book to be published in the North America about Modern Macedonian, and it was the first mophosyntactic and semantic analysis of Macedonian verbal categories. The framework is Jakobsonian, but with additional generativist analyses inspired by generative semantics. Almost 40 years later, the basic research has proven sound and the frameworks are still useful. This revised edition of the original 1977 book takes into account research published since the first edition and contains an new preface and an expanded bibliography as well as the original appendix of over 300 additional example sentences. The first chapter surveys Macedonian verbal morphology and defines basic terminology. Subsequent chapters each treat a series of paradigmatic sets: the simplex series, the sum series, the ima series, and the pluperfect (beše series). Throughout there are comparisons with Bulgarian, the former Serbo-Croatian, and various relevant Balkan Slavic dialects. The concluding chapter summarizes the preceding four and gives a survey of some of the relevant aspects of various Balkan languages (Albanian, Aromanian, Balkan Judezmo, Greek, Meglenoromanian, Balkan Romani, Romanian, and Turkish) in addition to Balkan Slavic, with special focus on so-called evidentials. The data are primarily from the spoken and written standard language. It documents the usage of the first generation to grow up entirely with a Macedonian-language educational medium. A generation later, it was possible to revisit these speakers as well as their grown children. The data and predictions have stood the test of time, and so are published again in the context of subsequent research. Victor A. Friedman received his Ph.D. in 1975 from both the Slavic Department and the Linguistics Department at the University of Chicago. He taught at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, from 1975 to 1993, when he returned to Chicago. He is currently Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Service Professor in the Humanities, with appointments in the Department of Linguistics and the Department of Anthropology (associate appointment) at the University of Chicago. He is also Director of the University of Chicago’s Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies, a National Resource Center, as well as president of the U.S. National Committee of the International Association for Southeast European Studies. Friedman is a member of the Macedonian Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Academy of Sciences of Albania, the Academy of Arts and Sciences of Kosova Matica Srpska, and is an external member of the Department of Balkan Ethnology, Ethnographic Institute, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. He has thrice been awarded the Golden Plaque from Sts. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje, from which he has also received an honorary doctorate. During the Yugoslav Wars of Succession he worked for the United Nations as a senior policy and political analyst in Macedonia and consulted for other international organizations. In 2009 he received the Annual Award for Outstanding Contributions to Scholarship from the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages. In 2014 received the Annual Award for Distinguished Contributions to Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies from the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies. He has held Guggenheim, Fulbright-Hays, ACLS, SSRC, IREX, NEH, APS and other fellowships and grants, and he has published extensively on all aspects of Balkan languages and linguistics as well as on Lak, Georgian, and other languages.

Charles E. Gribble


The Forms of Russian gives a thorough account of Russian morphology and morphophonemics pitched at intermediate to advanced learners of Russian, and is especially suited for a course in the structure of Russian for Russian majors and beginning graduate students. It has two principal goals: 1) to give an explicit description of many aspects of Russian declension and conjugation (including stress placement) without introducing a great deal of theoretical superstructure and formalism; and 2) to demonstrate how we can establish a systematic description of Russian, and identify the data and issues which are most important in this kind of description. A serendipitous side effect is to demonstrate the principles of structural linguistics through the laboratory of Russian morphology. The book is written in a lively, personal style and is richly accompanied by examples and exercises designed to encourage thinking and understanding rather than rote memorization. Charles Gribble taught Slavic languages and linguistics for forty-nine years at three universities: Ohio State, Indiana, and Brandeis. He was the 1992 recipient of the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Profession from the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages, and in 2006 the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences honored him with the Marin Drinov Award. In addition to his other achievements, Charles Gribble was co-founder of Slavica Publishers and served as its president from 1966–97.

Edited by Michael S. Flier, David J. Birnbaum, and Cynthia Vakareliyska


Horace Gray Lunt (1918–2010), one of the leading Slavic philologists of his time, spent his entire academic career at Harvard University (1949–89), where he helped to train generations of graduate students in Slavic philology and linguistics, many of whom went on to occupy college and university posts throughout the United States. The present volume, Philology Broad and Deep, contains twenty-one essays dedicated to his memory by his former students and close colleagues. These contributions reflect his own devotion to philology, linguistics, and medieval studies, and confirm his enduring influence on those he taught and mentored.

Božidar Vidoeski


Božidar Vidoeski (1920–1998) was the father of Modern Macedonian dialectology. Not only did he publish numerous studies of individual dialects but also broader syntheses that superseded all previous attempts and that remain to this day the foundations of Slavic dialectology on Macedonian linguistic territory. The present collection contains translations of eight of Vidoeski's most important general Macedonian dialectological works, as well as his complete bibliography. It can thus serve as a basic textbook for any course that deals with Macedonian dialects but is also a fund of information and analysis for any scholar interested in the Macedonian language. The articles translated for the present collection span the period from his classic article on Macedonian linguistic geography ("The Dialects of Macedonian in Light of Linguistic Geography", 1962) up to the fruits of a lifetime of studying and thinking about Macedonian dialects: a general overview of Macedonian dialectal differentiation ("The Dialectal Differentiation of the Macedonian Language", 1996) and a study of Macedonian vocalic systems ("The Vocalic Systems of Standard Macedonian and the Dialects of Macedonian", 1997). Taken together, these eight articles give a masterful overview of Macedonian dialectology by the master of the field.