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a word operating in a particular grammatical form. For example, gorodóv (“of the cities”) is the word form of the genitive plural of the noun gorod (“city”). Any grammatical paradigm of a word constitutes the system of its word forms, and in actual utterances any word subject to inflection appears in a specific word form.
In Soviet linguistics, the theory of the word form was developed by A. I. Smirnitskii, who elaborated the views of F. F. Fortunatov, A. M. Peshkovskii, and V. A. Bogoroditskii. Smirnitskii distinguished three aspects in the structure of a word form: the individualizing (lexical) aspect, which is expressed by the word’s root, the class (specifically grammatical) aspect, and the strictly formal aspect (the actual grammatical form). An example of the class and formal aspects is the inflectional ending of the word form gorodov.
(1) The aggregate of the morphological and phonological markers of a word that determine its grammatical meaning. For example, the morphemes of the Russian word uchitel’nitsa (uchi-tel’-nits-a, “teacher”) indicate that it is a singular feminine noun in the nominative case. In the Afar language of Ethiopia, the phonological characteristics of the word fak indicate that it is an imperative second person singular verb form, since that is the only grammatical form which ends in a consonant. The concept of word form originated as part of the formal morphological approach to language developed by F. F. Fortunatov. To Fortunatov, word form was a word’s divisibility into morphemes that permits the word’s grammatical meaning to be determined.
(2) A word in particular grammatical form. For example, the Russian stolu is the dative singular form of the noun stol (“table”).