A FOOTnote to the Jers: The Russian Trochee-Iamb Shift and Cognitive Linguistics
This article explores the fall and vocalization of the jers, making five claims. First, it is shown how the jer shift can be analyzed in terms of a trochaic pattern, whereby a jer fell unless it headed a foot. Second, the foot-based approach is argued to be superior to the traditional counting mechanism postulated for the jer shift in that the foot-based approach avoids ad hoc stipulations and facilitates crosslinguistic comparison. Third, the present study relates the fall of the jers to a trochee-iamb shift in Russian prosody; a few generations after the jer shift was completed, an iambic pattern was introduced through the emergence of akan’e. Fourth, it is proposed that Contemporary Standard Russian may be a “switch language,” i.e., a language in which productive processes are sensitive to both trochees and iambs. Last but not least, the present study analyzes prosodic change from the point of view of cognitive linguistics (the Usage-Based Model) and shows that this framework offers a straightforward account of the jer shift.
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