Syntax. The part of grammar dealing with the way words are put together to form phrases, clauses, and sentences and with the study of the structure, types, and functions of sentences and their component parts. Scholars of the Middle Ages and the Enlightenment discussed syntax in the context of logic and philosophy. Based on contemporary Greek and Latin grammars, Meletii Smotrytsky's Slavonic grammar (1619) approaches syntax in this way too. Early 19th-century Galician grammarians followed the example of Polish and German grammars and of N. Grech's (1829) and A. Vostokov's (1831) Russian grammars modeled on them. A positivist approach, based on data from existing languages and partly influenced by Romanticism, was introduced by the Slovenian linguist Franz Miklosich in his comparative Slavic grammar (4 vols, 1852–75). The grammars of Miklosich's Western Ukrainian disciples Mykhailo Osadtsa (1862), Omelian Ohonovsky (1889), and Stepan Smal-Stotsky (1893, 1913) were not free of the influence of logical syntax (particularly that of the Russian F. Buslaev).

New approaches to syntax were introduced by Oleksander Potebnia in his studies of Russian grammar (4 vols, 1874, 1888, 1899, 1941; repr 1958, 1968, 1978). Combining the romantic ideas of W. Humboldt with a rigorous positivist method, he incorporated a great deal of Ukrainian data in his writings on the parts of speech, gerund, predicate phrase, and ‘other inflections’ in the sentence, and laid the foundations for the historical syntax of the Slavic languages. Romantic views could still be found in Ivan Ohiienko's book on Ukrainian syntax (1936) and other studies. Description was combined with linguistic normalization in Olena Kurylo's book on modern literary Ukrainian language (1925), Mykola Sulyma's book on the Ukrainian phrase (1928), M. Hladky's study of the language of the press (1928), and Serhii Smerechynsky's book of studies on Ukrainian syntax (1932). Rejecting the mechanical acceptance of traditional, Russian, and Polish constructions based on Church Slavonic, Latin, German, and French patterns, they advocated the introduction of equivalent constructions from the folk vernacular. A compromise position was expressed in Oleksa Syniavsky's seminal book on the norms of literary Ukrainian (1931). K. Vossler's methodology, the structuralist linguistics of F. de Saussure and K. Bühler, and the psychological approaches of W. Wundt and Aleksii Shakhmatov influenced certain followers of Leonid Bulakhovsky, such as Mykola Perehinets (coathor of an advanced textbook of Ukrainian [1930]).

Most Ukrainian linguists perished during the Stalinist terror of the 1930s. Since that time, views about Ukrainian syntax that have been normative in the postwar period were initially developed by Leonid Bulakhovsky in the spirit of the teachings of the Russian linguists A. Shakhmatov and A. Peshkovsky. Bulakhovsky's influence is reflected in the university textbooks of Ukrainian syntax by O. Parkhomenko (1957; 3rd edn 1967), A. Medushevsky (1959), and B. Kulyk (1961; 2nd edn 1965); in the university textbooks of modern Ukrainian by M. Ivchenko (1960; repr 1962, 1965) and Mykhailo Zhovtobriukh and B. Kulyk (1959, 2nd edn 1961; 3rd edn 1965; 4th edn 1972); in B. Kulyk's book on the syntax of the complex sentence (1963); and in other textbooks. In 1972 an authoritative Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR (now NANU) multiauthor monograph on Ukrainian syntax edited by Ivan Bilodid and Oleksander Melnychuk was published. It is also based on Russified linguistic norms, but relies even more on the approach of Russian linguists, such as A. Peshkovsky, L. Shcherba, and, in particular, V. Vinogradov.

Despite ideological constraints, important work has been done. Ukrainian historical syntax has been covered in university textbooks by Oleksii Bezpalko et al (1957; 2nd rev edn 1962), I. Slynko (1973), and Mykhailo Zhovtobriukh et al (1980); in monographs by O. Bezpalko (1960), U. Yedlinska (1961), and I. Slynko (1968); and in the multiauthor NANU monograph on Ukrainian historical syntax edited by A. Hryshchenko (1983). Monographs have been written on Ukrainian comparative constructions (Illia Kucherenko, 1959), the hypotactic complex sentence (I. Cherednychenko, 1959), adverbs (I. Chaplia, 1960), prepositions (A. Kolodiazhny, 1960; I. Vykhovanets, 1980; Z. Ivanenko, 1981), conjunctions (Fedir Medvediev, 1962), gerunds (L. Kots, 1964), word groups (H. Udovychenko, 1968), the syntax of poetic language (S. Yermolenko, 1969), the paratactic complex sentence (A. Hryshchenko, 1969), verbal structure (Vitalii Rusanivsky, 1971), the syntax of the accusative case (I. Vykhovanets, 1971), the syntax of colloquial speech (P. Dudyk, 1973), the syntax of word groups and simple sentences (ed M. Zhovtobriukh, 1975), the systemic-semantic relations of Ukrainian and Russian syntax (V. Kononenko, 1976), complex asyndetic constructions (S. Doroshenko, 1980), the comparison of Russian and Ukrainian syntactic synonyms (V. Britsyn, 1980), the structural-semantic construction of sentences (H. Arpolenko, 1982), syntax and stylistic semantics (S. Yermolenko, 1982), the syntax of the simple sentence (L. Kadomtseva, 1985), complex sentences (K. Shulzhuk, 1986), and the comparison of the typology of Czech and Ukrainian simple verbal sentences (1987).

Postwar émigré scholars who have contributed to the study of Ukrainian syntax include George Yurii Shevelov (The Syntax of Modern Literary Ukrainian: The Simple Sentence, 1963), S. Chorney (textbook of Ukrainian syntax in Ukrainian, 1969), and Panteleimon Kovaliv (grammar [1946], and phrase construction [1946]).

Oleksa Horbach

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

List of related links from Encyclopedia of Ukraine pointing to Syntax entry:

A referral to this page is found in 14 entries.

Click Home to get to the IEU Home page; to contact the IEU editors click Contact.
To learn more about IEU click About IEU and to view the list of donors and to become an IEU supporter click Donors.  

©2001 All Rights Reserved. Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies.