Gouskova, Maria and Jonathan David Bobaljik. 2021. Russian baby diminutives: Heading toward an analysis. Manuscript, NYU and Harvard. [pdf]
The Russian suffix -onok has two functions. First, it can be a size diminutive in nouns denoting baby animals. Second, it can be an evaluative with a dismissive/affectionate flavor. Various grammatical properties of this suffix differ between the two uses: gender, declension class, and interaction with suppletive alternations, both as target and trigger. We explore a reductionist account of these differences, on the assumption that there is a single vocabulary item that may realize either a head or a non-head morpheme. In doing so, we attempt to spell out theoretical assumptions that would be needed to reduce the observed grammatical differences to this structural distinction, and to situate our account with relation to other current approaches to diminutives.