Semantic actants of the Russian concessive conjunction khotja ‘though’ (lexicographic description vs. real texts)

2017. № 2 (34), 142-152

Elena V. Uryson, Vinogradov Russian Language Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences; Moscow, Russia


The subject of the paper is the main Russian concessive conjunction khotja ‘though’. I show that this conjunction has three semantic actants. Two of them are obvious: these are “the key situation” (expressed by the main clause) , and “the obstacle for the key situation” (expressed by the subordinate clause). The third actant is “the cause for the key situation”. Indeed, if the key situation exists in spite of the obstacle then there is a reason for this situation which is stronger than the obstacle. The cause is usually presupposed. Moreover, this cause is likely to be part of our common knowledge of the world but not an element of the meaning of the conjunction khotja. The point is that some utterances containing khotja demonstrate a change in its diathesis: the subordinate clause denotes “the obstacle for the key situation”, the main clause expresses “the cause for the key situation”, while “the key situation” is presupposed. Such utterances are not frequent (that is why they are ignored in grammars and dictionaries), but they are quite normal. The conjunction no ‘but’ and some concessive particles (kak-nikak, vsio-taki ‘still’) have the same three actants. Problems of lexicographic description of the word khotja ‘though’ are discussed.