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Regular version of the site

Book chapter

Прилагательные тяжёлый и лёгкий в типологической перспективе

С. 247-255.
Кюсева М. В., Рыжова Д. А., Холкина Л. С.

The report is devoted to the study of Russian adjectives ‘heavy’ and ‘light’. The unexpected symmetry of these lexemes is discussed: on the one side, they are antonymic practically in all meanings they have (internal symmetry), on the other side, this semantic area has the same structure in the languages that served the typological background for our research: Serbian, French,  English and Chinese (external symmetry). Yet thorough research shows, that the similarity of lexemes has surface character. The following essential differences are revealed: 1. the adjective ‘heavy’ is used in direct meaning considerably more frequently than ‘light’; 2. the adjective ‘light’ is used more frequently in metaphoric contexts and  it particularly becomes apparent while expressing the meaning of degree: the meaning of down-toner of the lexeme ‘light’ is better developed than the meaning of intensifier of the lexeme ‘heavy’; 3. adjective ‘heavy’ when it is used with certain nouns can involve the component of the meaning ‘slow’, while adjective ‘light’ can, on the one hand, involve the meaning with antonymical component ‘fast’, and on the other hand, through the meaning of down-toner, it can involve the component ‘slow’; 4. analogical phenomenon with adjectives that have the meaning of ‘light’ can be seen in estimative component: in the whole the situation ‘lightly’ is rated positively, but there can be contexts in which the adjective with the meaning of ‘light’ has negative connotations. The adjective with meaning ‘heavy’ in Russian can only have negative connotations, but it can also develop positive connotations in other languages (e.g. ‘important’ in Chinese), if its original meaning is not ‘difficult to lift or move’, but ‘(objectively) weighing a lot’.

In book

Прилагательные тяжёлый и лёгкий в типологической перспективе
Edited by: А. Е. Кибрик Т. 1: Основная программа конференции. Вып. 11. М.: Российский государственный гуманитарный университет, 2012.