Russian texts in Olonetsky sbornik from the 17th century: Phonetics and grammar

2020. № 2 (40), 128-150

Alina S. Alekseeva
Vinogradov Russian Language Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The Institute for Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences
(Moscow, Russia)


The Olonetsky sbornik (The Library of the Russian Academy of Sciences. 21.9.10) is one
of the biggest collections of handwritten incantations of the first half of the 17th century. The
study of phonetic and grammatical features of the manuscript and its comparative analysis
with contemporary and later dialectal material allows to conclude that its scribes were speakers
of the Novgorod dialect or some dialect of the north-eastern periphery of the Novgorod
Land. The following dialect features were discovered in both parts of the manuscript: the realization
of *ě as [i] in stressed position, the distinction between the vowels [o] and [a] in unstressed
syllables, the palatalised quality of the long voiceless sibilant [ʃʲː] in contrast with the
non-palatalised voiced sibilants [ʒ], [ʒː], merger of the voiceless alveolar affricate /ts/ and the
voiceless postalveolar affricate /tʃ/, syncretic inflection of a-stem nouns in Gen.–Dat.–Loc.
singular, adjective inflection — yma/-ima in Instr. plural, constructions with the existential
modal est’ and present tense forms. The dialect of the second scribe is also characterized by
voiced velar fricative [γ], the use of the preposition uv, the desinence -amy/-yamy in the Instr.
plural of the nouns and the use of the Nominative in the function of direct object in infinitival
and participial clauses. The co-occurrence of two types of syncretic genitive/dative/locative
form of *а̄-stem nouns suggests either simultaneous use of different inflections, which was
typical of the Novgorod dialect in the first half of the 17th century, or the use of different protographs
by the scribes.