The letter to the Devil: a little-known instance of the Old Russian pluperfect

2017. № 2 (34), 219-228

Dmitri V. Sitchinava, Vinogradov Russian Language Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences; Moscow, Russia


The paper discusses the fragmented birchbark letter from Novgorod no. 4 written around 1320–1340, focusing on the context of the Pluperfect form that occurs in the fragment (byl vydal). An interpretation of this use is proposed linking it with the discourse functions of the Old Russian Pluperfect that marks the initial point of a narrative. This hypothesis requires for a reconstruction of the whole text of the letter in question. The author proposes to correct the previous reading of the document, and discusses also some other issues related to its interpretation.