“Étu... kak ejo... perepisku Éngelsa s etim... kak ego, djavola... s Kautskim” — A Case Study of a Placeholder in Russian
Basing on data from the Russian National Corpus (including its multimedia subcorpus) we provide a qualitative and a preliminary quantitative analysis of the discourse marker etot kak ego in Russian informal spontaneous spoken discourse. The marker is a placeholder — a type of discourse marker that signals production diffi culties. Markers of this type mainly have a pronominal origin and serve as a preparatory substitute for a delayed constituent. Placeholders allow the speaker to refer to objects and events for which the speaker fails to retrieve the exact name, or simply fi nds the exact name to be unnecessary or inappropriate. We explore grammatical and prosodic strategies employed in constructions with this marker demonstrating that it can fully or partially copy not only the syntactic role and grammatical form of the delayed constituent, but also its prosodic shaping. This allows us to suggest that the speaker might be able to project grammatical and prosodic features of the delayed unit well before the unit itself is articulated. Further experimental and corpus studies of the phenomenon will help to promote our understanding of speech production mechanisms.