Towards the classification of Russian illocutionary sentence types

2015. № 1 (29), 87-116

Natalia A. Zevakhina, Higher School of Economics


The paper discusses various classifications of Russian illocutionary sentence types in a cross-linguistic perspective. The common practice is to distinguish among three basic Russian sentence types: assertives, interrogatives, and imperatives. According to this view, exclamatives and optatives belong to assertives. However, some classifications suggest singling out either exclamatives or optatives from the three basic types. Crosslinguistically, the three types are also wide-spread and frequent. They are characterized by a number of grammatical and intonational features. However, minor sentence types (e. g., exclamatives, optatives, imprecatives, non-finite structures) can also be differentiated on the basis of their special formal properties. The paper argues that both exclamatives and optatives are formally distinct from the three basic types and, therefore, constitute two separate minor sentence types.