Lexical Diversity and Colour Hues in Russian Poetry: A Corpus-Based Study of Adjectives
This paper describes the distribution of colour adjectives in Russian poetry of the Silver Age and defines individual preferences with regard to poetic tradition, syllable structure, and metrical restrictions. The research method combines a lexico-semantic approach, formal literary analysis, and quantitative metrics obtained via the frequency database of the Russian Poetry Corpus (over 10 M words, incl. 1 M adjectives). The database allows the user to compare subcorpora and create graphs of timeline distribution, which demonstrate that the lexical diversity and relative frequencies of colour adjectives start to grow rapidly in the 1890s, as modernists employ colour adjectives to upgrade the poetic inventory. The adjectives referring to non-banal hues (e.g. fioletovyj ‘violet’, lazorevyj ‘azur’) belong to the middle part of the ranked wordlist. Correspondence analysis of the data reveals individual colour preferences and stylistic similarities among the most prominent poets of the Silver Age; for example, Anna Akhmatova and Alexander Blok are similar regarding their use of the white hues. The distribution of the selected colour hue adjectives across metrical types highlights the strong association of multi-syllabic adjectives with certain meters, although some words have a more complex distribution.