Perfect and Pluperfect in Old Russian: The position of sentential negation and the auxiliary verb

2020. № 2 (40), 185-205

Anna A. Pichkhadze
Vinogradov Russian Language Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences
(Moscow, Russia)


The paper consists of two parts. The first part examines the position of negation in sentences
with past compound tenses in Old Russian. The Old Russian chronicles and birchbark
letters were analyzed. The analysis confirmed that in Old Russian, unlike Old Bulgarian, negation
is regularly adjacent to the participle of the perfect or pluperfect. Rare contexts where
negation is placed in front of the auxiliary are accounted for by the influence of Church Slavonic.
The second part of the paper discusses the position of the auxiliary in Old Russian perfect
and pluperfect. It is shown that in Old Russian chronicles, the auxiliary appears quite
regularly in the enclitic position not only in the perfect but also in the pluperfect. In Old
Church Slavonic Codex Marianus, the pluperfect auxiliary behaves in a similar way. It is proposed
that in Slavic dialects, the pluperfect auxiliary could function as an enclitic like the auxiliaries
of other compound tenses — perfect, super-compound pluperfect, and compound future.
The pluperfect auxiliary might already have been used as an enclitic in the preliterate period.