The Class of Adjective and Adverbial Intensifiers in the Russian Language and Mechanisms of its Expansion

Author’s name:

Marina V. Sandakova


The purpose of the article is to study the development of lexical intensifiers in modern Rus-sian. Using the methods of semantic analysis, the author examines lexicographical data and materials from the Russian National Corpus. Lexical intensifiers continue to inspire scholars’ interest in lexicological, lexicographic, and normative aspects, and this study makes a new theoretical contribution to the study of the functional and semantic category of intensity as well as to the conceptualization of active processes in the vocabulary and lexical collocations of modern Russian. The results of the study can be used in the work of compiling definition dictionaries of the Russian language, namely coinage dictionaries.
The class of lexical intensifiers includes primarily adjectives and adverbs. The most well-developed part of the intensifying scale is its right extreme: there are more units that express meaning of the high and absolute degree than those that express the middle and low degree of intensity. New intensifiers that appear in the language are also concentrated in this area of the scale. Intensifiers present an open and constantly widening class of words, new additions typ-ically being semantic derivations of adjectives and adverbs. In the late 20th and early 21st century, the Russian language acquired new intensifiers that can be categorized as semantic neologisms (исполнение распоряжения нереально — нереально вкусное мороженое).
The authors singles out the following mechanisms of expanding the class of intensifiers: 1. Syntagmatic widening: going beyond the typical collocation circle, determined by the rules of lexical collocations and fixed in the dictionaries. Here syntagmatic changes involve not only units with the semantically motivated collocation (запредельный, космический), but also those phraseologically connected (кромешный, закадычный); 2. Stylistic changes, manifest-ed in determinologization of words and their “escape” from the bookish style, which widens the possibilities of using them in new and non-typical contexts (астрономические цены, клиническая дура); 3. Grammatical widening, when an adjective intensifier acquires its ad-verb “pair,” i. e., its syntactic derivative (космический — космически, закадычный — за-кадычно).

DOI: 10.47388/2072-3490/lunn2020-51-3-90-106
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Key words lexical semantics; adjective and adverbial intensifiers; semantic derivation; se-mantic coinage; collocation; determinologization; lexicography.


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