Combinability of Emotive Words with Case-Preposition Marks in Russian Language

Valery Solovyev, Kazan State University

The article deals with the results of systematical analyses of case-prepositional marks of words, denoting emotions (and, more general, mental states), in the syntactic positions of objects and oblique relations. The National Corpora of Russian language ( and Mashkov’s Library ( are used as data sources. According to the Fillmore’s theory of constructions and to the results from Rakhilina 2004, we suppose that case-preposition marks also contribute to the phrase semantics. So the locative construction v ‘in’ + locative case is oriented at the names with containers’ topology (Rakhilina), etc.

Having analyzed many thousand of examples, we managed to obtain reliable quantitative characteristics of morpho-syntactical combinability of emotions. The results can be used in the following spheres:
1. More precise definitions of words. Our data allows to supplement and in some cases to define more precisely the semantic descriptions, given in Apresyan 1997. For example, nothing is said about the combinability with construction v ‘in’ + accusative case in the entry about the synonym row of the word strakh ‘fear’. Meanwhile, the words from the row show themselves in different and nontrivial ways in this aspect. The combination v uzhas is quite normal and means transition of the subject to this state. (Uvidennoye privelo ego v uzhas ‘He was horror-struck by what he had seen’), but the combination v strakh is possible only in the context: pererastayet v strakh ‘turns into fear’, i.e. it means the conversion of one psychical state to another and can’t mean the transition of subject to the state of fear: * Uvidennoye privelo ego v strakh ‘He was frightened by what he seen’.
2. Metaphor theory development. Psychical states are usually interpreted alongside other states as containers. However it turned out that as for possibility to get into container or being got out of it psychical states behave differently. So we may say: On vpal v depressiyu ‘He is depressed’ and On vyshel iz depressii ‘He overcame his depression’. At the same time one can only priiti v unyniye ‘get into despondency’, but can’t *vyiti iz unyniya ‘get out of despondency’ (and other verbs are also not suitable in this case). One can’t get into container strakh and there is no way to get out of it. Thus, the states mentioned above represent essentially different types of containers. We have not found psychical states, which one can get out of but can’t get into. We suggest some development of the ontology metaphor theory by Lakoff-Johnson. In particular, we prove the hypothesis, that unyniye ‘despondency’ in contradistinction to depressiya ‘depression’ is not only a state but also a process.

Our work was supported by RFBR, grant No 04-06-80050.


Rakhilina, E. V. 2004. Kategorialnaya struktura i grammatika konstruktsii. Pervaya rossiiskaya konf. po kognitivnoi nauke. Kazan: Otechestvo. 212-213.
Apresyan, Yu. D. 1997 Novyi ob’yasnitelny slovar synonimov russkogo yazyka. M.: Yazyki russkoi kultury.