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Regular version of the site

Book chapter

Что такое орехи?

С. 210-224.

When describing words which denote real life objects, dictionaries tend to use scientific terms and classifications, even when dealing with natural language. This approach may lead to misunderstanding, especially in cases when scientific classification (e.g. in biology) differs from what is found in natural language data. One of such cases is discussed here, namely the small but rather interesting class of nuts (Russian orexi). In the botanic world view nuts usually include hazelnuts and chestnuts, but do not include walnuts or almonds (which are considered stone fruits), pine nuts (seeds), peanuts (legumes), pistachio (kernels), etc. The Russian orex, English nut, Latin nux exhibit similar behaviour here. Explanatory dictionaries of Russian more or less follow the botanical definitions, even though in many fields (such as cooking, food industry, medicine, etc.) nuts are classified differently. In order to establish the boundaries of nuts in Russian, more than 1000 native speakers were questioned and multiple texts of different periods were studied. The result is a peculiar class which could not be identified with any of the natural language supercategories described by Anna Wierzbicka. A new lexicographic description is proposed for some words included into this class.