Linguistic expeditions





Study of the Russian "Silver Age" neology


Researchers: M. I. Vorontsova, N. N. Pertsova. N. T. Tarumova, I. V. Shumarina;

headed by N. N. Pertsova


Dictionaries of neologisms constitute an important part of lexicography. For the Russian language we have a series of the dictionaries "New Words and Meanings", besides in a number of general dictionaries (for instance in the dictionary by Ushakov) neologisms are specially marked. At the same time neologisms created by writers often stay outside systematic description and are usually available only as separate examples in literary criticism. Our general task is summarizing the Russian "Silver Age" coinages. The peculiarity of our project is the full scope of text (at least published) considered and uniformity of description: dictionary entries of all the authors’ neologisms have the same format (suggested for Khlebnikov’s neology). As a result we are to obtain a vivid picture of thought movement at one of the most interesting periods of the Russian culture development. In future we hope to obtain the dictionaries of all prominent authors of the time. At present we study the coinages of four authors: Anderej Belyj, Sergej Gorodetsky, Elena Guro, and Velimir Khlednikov.


Belyj's neology (N. T. Tarumova, I. V. Shumarina). At the beginning we underestimated the scope of his coinages. It turned out that only published Belyj's texts give more than 4000 neologisms, and the majority of them, about 3000, belong to prose. By now a list of published neologisms (about 4000 items) and dictionary entries for 2000 of them have been prepared; more than 3000 pages of Belyj’s texts have been scanned.


The distribution of neologisms is studied: neologisms turn out to appear as clusters – an introduction of new persons or objects is accompanied by impacts of coinages. The study of formal structure shows Belyj's word-formation favorites: part of speech – adjective, derivational type – prefixing. Belyj's neologisms have common features with those of Khlebnikov, for instance both authors often use rare suffixes and unifixes.


Gorodetsky's neology (M. I. Vorontsova). His first book of poetry (Jar’, 1907) provoked a storm of rapture – Vjacheslav Ivanov, Brjusov, Block, Khlebnikov and other "Silver age" poets greeted this "myth-creating" voice with characteristic for him alloy of ancient and new. Later the poet changed his style, so his early poetry remains the only source of his coinages. The dictionary of his coinages includes 136 items. Among them names of pseudo-mythological personalities who coexist with  known ones are found. Occasional  features of different levels are described.


Guro's neology (M. I. Vorontsova).   This untimely deceased poetess nevertheless left some pieces of poetry rich with neologisms. A considerable part of her poems is addressed to her non-existed son, and is thus rich with dimensional suffixes. She was an artist as well, and so an important role in our study  is devoted to correlations between words and drawings in her drafts.


Khlebnikov's neology (N. N. Pertsova). In 1995 "The Dictionary of Khlebnikov's Neologisms" was published. Now we study Khlebnikov's manuscripts. We prepared the transcription of the early word-creation Khlebnikov's notebook (249 manuscript pages) and commentaries on the texts in them. Dictionary entries for more than 1000 unpublished neologisms from the manuscript mentioned, as well as for about 2000 neologisms from other manuscripts, are composed. The data from manuscripts were compared with a number of corresponding publications; a collection of errors in the publications is composed. There is a special group of misprints, which generate "pseudoneologisms". "Pseudoneologisms" were excluded from the vocabulary of neologisms and from the respective data bases (DB) which had been composed earlier. Formats for DB of neologisms were developed: dictionary DB, which contain the main information on neologisms; bibliographic BD, etc. Khlebnikov's idiostyle was explored: data on his earlier and late manuscripts were compared and matched (in particular, from the neologistic point of view); non-standard usage of customary lexemes (particularly pronoun ja ‘I’) was explored; there was found and prepared for publishing a rare piece of Khebnikov's literary criticism: analysis of Leonid Andreev's play "The Tsar Hunger" (earlier this Khlebnikov's text was published only partially).