This article aims to examine functions of the Slavic coordinate conjunction a. All modern Slavic national and regional languages have a conjunction that is pronounced as /a/ which fulfills functions, such as contrastive, introductory, adversative (in a narrow sense), copulative, consecutive, and disjunctive functions.
The contrastive function occurring among semantically related or unrelated things juxtaposed by the Slavic conjunction a is the most basic and prominent function of this conjunction, and all the modern Slavic conjunctions pronounced as /a/ can represent a contrastive relation between coordinates.
The Slavic a also serves as an introductory conjunction appearing at the beginning of an utterance without a related precedent utterance or context, and as an adversative conjunction connecting incompatible events. These two functions must have been derived from its contrastive function since the introductory conjunction juxtaposes a new utterance to an unuttered inner speech or an unrelated precedent discourse, and the Slavic adversative a juxtaposes propositions that do not usually co-occur, not implicating a breaking of a usual chain of causation.
In the West Slavic languages, except Polish, the conjunction a is, above all, a copulative conjunction and can also serve as a consecutive conjunction. On the other hand, some South Slavic languages have a correlative disjunctive conjunction a, repeatedly added at the beginning of each coordinate.
Many Russian linguists suggested that the Russian conjunction a is the most typical Russian conjunction that cannot be translated into other languages. However, the Russian conjunction a shares its main functions and pragmatic peculiarities with other Slavic equivalents, and the corresponding conjunctions in other Slavic languages also have their own idiosyncratic functions. Therefore, the conjunction a should be considered a characteristic Slavic conjunction rather than a peculiar Russian conjunction.