Nadezjda Zorikhina Nilsson 2017

Nadezjda Zorikhina Nilsson

Professor i slaviska språk med inriktning på modern ryska

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Works at Department of Slavic and Baltic Studies Finnish Dutch and German
Telephone 08-16 49 75
Postal address Institutionen för slaviska och baltiska språk finska nederländska 106 91 Stockholm

About me

I am a professor of Slavic Languages, specializing in Modern Russian. Prior to my appointment at Stockholm University in 2014, I held a variety of teaching and/or research positions at Saint Petersburg’s (Leningrad’s) University, Institute for Linguistic Studies (Russian Academy of Sciences), the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) and the University of Gothenburg.

I received my master's degree in Russian language and literature and in Russian as foreign language at Saint Petersburg’s (Leningrad’s) University in 1982 and obtained a Ph.D. in Slavic languages in 1998 from the University of Gothenburg, where I was later promoted to associate professor (docent) in Slavic languages in 2005 and to full professor of Russian language and linguistics in 2012.



Since 1982 I have been almost continuously engaged in teaching different aspects of the Russian language at both universities and elsewhere at all levels (BA, MA and later PhD). At Stockholm University I teach the following courses:

At BA level:

  • Russian morphology and word formation, 6 ECTS credits (spring semester);
  • Russian syntax, 5 ECTS credits (autumn semester);
  • Russian non-fiction texts, extensive reading, 3 ECTS credits (autumn/spring semester).

At MA and PhD level:

  • Contemporary Slavic Linguistic Theory, 7.5 ECTS credits (spring semester);
  • Contrastive Linguistics and Translation Studies I - Slavic Languages, 7.5 ECTS credits (autumn semester);
  • Contrastive Linguistics and Translation Studies II – Russian, 7.5 ECTS credits (spring semester);
  • Modern Russian Grammar: complicated cases in theory and practice,7.5 ECTS credits (once per two years, by special admission).


My principal research interests lie in the field of:

  • Russian lexical and grammatical semantics, and in particular, the verbal categories of tense, aspect and mood 
  • Contrastive linguistics
  • Corpus linguistics
  • Synchronic typology (Slavic languages)
  • Translation theory

Other fields of interest include Russian stylistics and rhetoric, cognitive linguistics, diachronic typology and practical lexicography.

Grammar of Modern Russian

My research primarily involves the modern Russian language and focuses in particular on the interplay between grammatical and lexical semantics. The principal theoretical-methodological approach of this research was first applied in my PhD dissertation (Glagoly položenija v prostranstve v sovremennom russkom jazyke, (Positional verbs in Modern Russian), in which the approach of the Moscow Semantic School to defining a lexical meaning is combined with the utterance functional analysis of the Saint Petersburg School.

The Russian verb and its forms and categories continue to be one of the key areas of my research, and thus a number of articles have been devoted to analysis of the aspectual forms and their meanings in imperative, apprehensive and taxis constructions.

Contrastive linguistics and grammatical typology

Contrastive studies between Swedish and Russian are a major focus of my research: Russian is viewed in the light of the Swedish language with the emphasis on syntax structures and differences in linguistic conceptualisation of the world.

I am especially interested in linguistic encoding of the temporal order of events that is expressed by constructions with temporal conjunctions in Swedish and Russian. Another topic that I have been researching is aspect in a number of Slavic languages.

Completed research projects

Norstedts ryska ordbok (Nordstedts Russian Dictionary). One of the most important events of recent years in bilingual Russian-Swedish lexicography and even in Russian-Swedish contrastive research has been the publication of  Nordstedts new Russian Dictionary (928 p.), the result of six years of cooperation (2000-2006) by a large international Swedish-Russian research group. This project was funded by the Swedish Institute and Norstedts. The dictionary is the first of its kind in twenty years and is based on the latest research in both Russian/Swedish lexicography and grammar. A new detailed semantic analysis and description of many parts of speech were undertaken, which concerns, inter alia, my description of all the Swedish prepositions included in this dictionary.

Typology of Taxis Constructions. An international project led by the Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute for Linguistic Studies (St. Petersburg, 2005-2008) concluded with a collective monograph, where I was responsible for a contribution on "Taxis in Swedish".

Typology of Taxis Constructions in Slavic languages. An international project led by the Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute for Linguistic Studies (St.Petersburg, 2008-2015) with participants from thirteen countries. I have written “Taxis in Russian” in collaboration with Adrian Barentsen. The book is in the process of being edited.

Current research

My recent research has focused on

  • Participles in Modern Russian: competition between different forms;
  • Emotional concepts in Russian and Swedish;
  • Re-translation studies (Astrid Lindgren, August Strindberg in translations to Russian)




A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2016. Nadezjda Zorikhina Nilsson. III Meždunarodnyj naučnyj simpozium ”Slavjanskije jazyki i kyl’tury v sovremennom mire. Trydy i materialy. Moskva, MGU im. M. V. Lomonosova, 23 – 26 maja 2016 goda, 22-23

    The present paper deals with different definitions of the notion of aspectual neutralization. The relation between the notions of aspectual neutralization and aspectual competition in Modern Russian is examined in more detail.

  • 2016. Nadezjda Zorikhina Nilsson. Da veselitsa Novʹgradʹ = Må Novgorod fröjda sig, 127-142

    This article analyses the aspectual use of imperfective past verbal forms in a number of Russian epic narrative poems, or byliny. These forms express complete, succesive actions of some duration and they are interchanged with other temporal and aspectual verbal forms in a manner that is not characteristic of their modern use. The analysis demonstrates that many epic scenes are based on a general semantic contrast "preparation for action and its implementation". The imperfective forms stand for the preparation for action and the perfective forms for the implementation. Moreover, this lexical and grammatical semantic contrast can be supported by a rhythmic contrast between aspectual forms while it is, as a rule, realised in the more detailed descriptions of the so-called epical "common places". Finally, in parallel structures with perfective past forms the rhythmic contrast between aspectual forms disappears or it is smoothed out, while the semantic contrast remains.

  • 2016. Nadezjda Zorikhina-Nilsson. Typology of Taxis Constructions, 277-349
  • 2016. Per Ambrosiani, Per-Arne Bodin, Nadezjda Zorikhina Nilsson.
  • 2015. Nadezjda Zorikhina Nilsson. АСПЕКТУАЛЬНАЯ СЕМАНТИЧЕСКАЯ ЗОНА: ТИПОЛОГИЯ СИСТЕМ И СЦЕНАРИИ ДИАХРОНИЧЕСКОГО РАЗВИТИЯ [Aspektual’naja semantičeskaja zona: tipologija sistem i scenarii diachroničeskogo razvitija], 74-80

    This paper examines the semantic and syntactic features of taxis constructions with future active perfective participles and pinpoints a number of factors that contribute to their growing use in contemporary spoken Russian. These include, in particular, the type of taxis construction, predicate semantics and hypothetical modality. Particular attention is devoted to potential and prospective aspectual meanings.

  • 2014. Nadezjda Zorikhina Nilsson. Scando-Slavica 60 (2), 172-188

    The Imperfective in Sequences of Events. On Nontrivial Aspectual Contexts in Russian in the PastThis article analyses a nontrivial use of the Russian imperfective aspect insequences of events in the past. The use of this so-called "contextually-conditionedimperfective past" (Dickey 2000) is characteristic of West Slavic languages,particularly Czech and Slovak, but in the linguistic literature several cases of its usein Modern Russian have also been identified. Based on data from the Russian National Corpus, this article presents the firstinvestigation of the range of use of this phenomenon in Modern Russian. The article claims that, in spite of the extreme rarity of the imperfective aspect inthe contexts under analysis, evidence for it may be found not only in stylisticallymarked contexts, but in common narrative style as well. Two types of contexts are investigated in detail: a chain of events consistingof more than two verbs, and the coordinative structure, where the second verbis an imperfective one. In the first case, the occurrence of the imperfective verbcan be partly explained by the communicative inappropriateness of the perfectivedelimitative in these contexts, and in the second case the imperfective aspect mayoccur due to the lack of a sharp boundary between the two actions.

  • 2014. Nadezjda Zorikhina Nilsson. Acta Linguistica Petropolitana. Transactions of the institute for linguistic studies 10 (3), 273-298

    Taxis constructions with gerunds and cardinal posture verbs in Russian


    This paper presents a study of the use of Russian cardinal posture verbs (or position verbs) in sentences with gerund constructions. Proceeding from the general assumption that grammatical and combinatorial properties of verbal lexems are determined by their semantic verb class, the paper argues that posture verbs are no exception and reveal similar behavior in the constructions under analysis. In sentences with these verbs, taxis relations of simultaneity are prototypically expressed and accompanied by a number of contextual meanings. Various conditions for the realization of these meanings are also discussed.

Show all publications by Nadezjda Zorikhina Nilsson at Stockholm University

Last updated: October 3, 2017

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