AN INTERNATIONAL SCANDAL (COMPOUND WORDS WITH THE FIRST COMPONENT MEZH- ~ MEZDU- — IN THE HISTORY OF RUSSIAN LITERATURE LANGUAGE
The article investigates patterns of choice between two competing initial components mež- and meždu- in such words as mežličnostnyj (interpersonal), mežètažnyj —mežduètažnyj (interfloor), mežducarstvie (interregnum), mežsezonʹe (inter-season) and so on. It is shown that rules applicable for adjectives and nouns are considerably different. Despite the fact that the most frequently used adjective of this type — meždunarodnyj (international) — attaches meždu- only, the majority of adjectives preferably appear to have (often the only possible) initial component mež-. Moreover, the usage of mežduadjectives (e.g. mežduvedomstvennyj — interdepartmental) declines steadily throughout the last 70–80 years, while the usage of mež-adjectives (e.g. mežvedomstvennyj — interdepartmental), on the contrary, demonstrates stable growth. The current research shows that compound nouns can be divided into certain classes. Nouns ending with -ie and some long-standing nouns that have monosyllabic root followed by -‘e demand the mežduvariant: mežducarstvie (interregnum), mežduvlastie (inter-power), meždurečʹe (interfluve area), meždurâdʹe (inter-row area), mežduputʹe (intertrack space). Nouns with -‘e, in which this -‘e is preceded by more than one syllable allow, the mež- variant: mežsezonʹe (inter-season), mežvremenʹe (intertemporal period). Uncommon monosyllabic nouns ending with -‘e allow both variants with preference of the mež- variant: mežbrovʹe ~ meždubrovʹe (area between eyebrows), mežgorʹe ~ meždugorʹe (area between mountains). Rare variants with meže- (mežeumok (underwit)) and meždo- (meždouzlie (interstitial position), meždousobnyj (internal (about a conflict))) require special consideration. They are used to avoid the confluence of two u vowels. Thus, there is some loose but ostensive connection between the choice of one of the competing variants and the part of speech of the derived word. The stylistic status of mež- and meždu- lexemes is also discussed in the conclusion.