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Acribia and Ameleia: The Context (or Lack Thereof) for Vasily Adodurov’s Grammar

Andrei A. Kostin


The article offers some corrections to Vassily Adodurov’s Anfangs-Gründe der Russischen Sprache (1731), as edited by S. S. Volkov and K. A. Filippov in 2014. There is one thing to note regarding the quality of this edition. On page 7, the editors list the typographical errors they corrected when working with the original text. The list they present has four items and contains a total of six errors , which are actually misreadings by the editors themselves as well as typos they appear to have introduced during the production of the book (including that they cite pages 49 and 51 of the 48-page original). The work, produced by a team of ten, consists of different sections: four prefatory essays; a facsimile reprint of the 1731 original; a rendition into modern typeset with a Russian translation; two indexes; and three supplements. These multiple parts are poorly coordinated and, overall, can be evaluated as ranging from being somewhat acceptable to being defective. The editors knowingly and without any explicit polemics ignore the original conception of the history of Petersburg Academy’s Russian grammar in the 1720s and 1730s that was offered by Helmut Keipert (2002) and has been accepted by most scholars. Whereas Keipert’s fundamental work presents multiple Russian grammars created in St. Petersburg in this period as the product of collective work, conducted mostly by and for German speakers, the editors of the volume under review tend to see the Anfangs-Gründe as an individual work, an “original grammar produced by V. E. Adodurov.” Any extensive comparison of the Anfangs-Gründe with other early Petersburg grammars would demonstrate the dependence of this short essay on the more profound work of its predecessors. The present edition has almost no commentary; of the five commentaries included in the volume, two are erratic, one is obvious, one shows that the editors are new to the typographical term custos, and only one—dealing with Lomonosov’s use of examples from the Anfangs-Gründe for his Russian Grammar (1755)—makes any sense. The German text in modern typeset is extremely poorly prepared: in the first 23 (of 46) pages there are 34 significant typos and omissions that take the place of the 5 typos corrected from the original. This only underscores the observation that the 18th-century German Gothic typeface is obscure for the editors. The two indexes are partly unusable; not only are both full of omissions (the index of Russian examples omits almost 10% of the forms in the original, including more than half of the words starting with the letter Z as well as most of the examples for superlative and even the verb form bytʹ), but furthermore, the ‘Index of Grammar Terms’ is not what it says it is. The correct title would be ‘Index of Latin Grammar Terms,’ for it does not include German terms, with the result that there are no listings for terms relating to phonetics, normative style, etc. The text of the 1738‒1740 grammar of the St. Petersburg Academy Gymnasium in the final supplement, although carefully retyped from B. A. Uspensky’s book (1975), omits all of its commentaries—both explanatory and textological—which leads to presenting without comment letter sequences such as rereniiakhʺ, imennno, navodishishʹ, etc. The article also discusses principles for the study and publication of the entire body of works that present the St. Petersburg grammatical tradition of the period from the 1730s to the 1750s. Appendices to this article include publication of Adodurov’s note on er and erʹ (1737) and the major corrections to the text of Russian grammar (1738–1740) from the St. Petersburg Academy Gymnasium as published by Uspensky in 1975.


Vassily Adodurov; pre-Lomonosov Russian grammars; 1730s; textology; commentary; orthography


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