Intensifiers in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Individual Style: Semantics of Irregular Lexical Combinations

Cover Page

Cite item


The paper is dedicated to the analysis of irregular intensifying constructions in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s individual style, more specifically of irregular lexical combinations including an intensifier and a main word. The meaning of intensifies is completely focused on expressing the intensity of an attribute, action or state denominated by the main word. Fyodor Dostoevsky’s writing style tends to form certain types of irregular lexical combinations including intensifiers. Through a case study of intensifiers ochen’ , goryachii / goryacho , izo vsekh sil , etc. the article describes several main types of irregular combinations with the view to find out semantic effects of irregular combinability. The analysis has covered the complete corpus of Fyodor Doestoevsky’s texts (fiction, journalism, private correspondence, business correspondence and documents). The first discriminant mark of irregular combinations is the semantic contradiction between the terms, the violation of idiomatic compatibility rules is the second feature taken into account. Whereas collocational rules in modern Russian differ a lot from the language norms of the 19th century, the subcorpus of 19th century texts of the National Russian Corpus serves to test the irregular idiomatic combinability. The article shows how the irregular combinability causes context meaning shifts profiling peripheral semantic features of the main word or “imposing” on it an untypical and contradictory semantics. In irregular lexical combinations, the language representation changes due to the original authors reinterpretation of the referential situation. The irregular lexical combinations with intensifiers are thereafter a distinctive feature of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s individual writing style that reveals his original conceptualization of the world.

About the authors

Ekaterina V. Sharapova

V.V. Vinogradov Russian Language Institute of RAS

Author for correspondence.
SPIN-code: 7424-9125

PhD, Research assistant at the Departement of Experimental Lexicography

18/2, Volkhonka str., Moscow, Russian Federation, 119019


  1. Zholkovskii, A.K. & Mel’čuk, I.A. (1967). On Semantic Synthesis. Problems of cybernetics, 19, 17—238. (In Russ.).
  2. Mel’čuk, I.A. (1999). The Theory of Linguistic Models «Meaning-Text». Semantics. Syntax. Moscow: Yazyki slavyanskoi kul’tury. (In Russ.).
  3. Mel’čuk, I.A. (2012). Language: from Meaning to Text. Moscow: Yazyki slavyanskoi kul’tury. (In Russ.).
  4. Mel’čuk, I. Vers une linguistique Sens-Texte. Leçon inaugurale (given on Friday January 10th 1997), Collège de France, Chaire internationalе [Electronic resource] URL: (accessed: 01.11.2020). (In French).
  5. Apresyan, Yu.D. (2011). On the New Version of the Theory of Lexical Functions. In: Intenational conference dedicated to the 50th anniversary of St. Petersburg Typological School. Abstracts. Saint Petersburg: Nestor-Istoriya. pp. 21—26. (In Russ.).
  6. Russian National Corpus [Electronic resource] URL: (accessed: 13.01.2021). (In Russ.).
  7. Chicherin, A.V. (1968). Ideas and Style. Moscow: Sovetskii pisatel’. (In Russ.).
  8. Ruzhitskii, I.V. (2014). What we do not understand in Dostoevsky? In Dostoevsky’s word. Individual style and worldview. Moscow: LEKSRUS. pp. 184—191. (In Russ.)
  9. Kustova G.I. Dictionary of Russian Collocations. Combinations with words designating high degree (MAGN-adjectives) [Electronic resource] URL: (accessed: 01.11.2020). (In Russ.).
  10. Apresyan, Yu.D. (1995). Types of Information for Semantic Representation of Linguistic Model “Meaning-Text”. In: Selected works. Vol. 2. Integral descriprion of languages and system lexicography. Moscow: Shkola «Yazyki russkoi kul’tury». pp. 8—101. (In Russ.).
  11. Granovskaya, L.M. (2005). Russian Literary Language in the late 19th and early 20th centuries: Essays. Moscow: Elpis. (In Russ.).
  12. Kustova, G.I. (2004). Types of Derived Meanings and Mechanisms of Semantic Extension. Moscow: Yazyki slavyanskoi kul’tury. (In Russ.).
  13. Kustova, G.I. (2011). Words Designating High Degree: Semantic Models and Semantic Mechanisms. In Word and language. Studies in honour of the 80th anniversary of academician Yu.D. Apresyan. Moscow: Yazyki slavyanskoi kul’tury. pp. 256—268. (In Russ.).
  14. Fillmore, Ch. (1981). The Case of Case. In: New in Modern Linguistics. Vol. 10. Linguistic semantics. Moscow: Progress. pp. 369—495. (In Russ.).
  15. Seliverstova, O.N. (1982). The Second Version of the Classification Grid and the Description of Several Predicate Types in Russian. In Semantic types of predicates. Moscow: Nauka. pp. 86—157. (In Russ.).
  16. Zaliznjak, A.A. (1992). Studies on Semantics of Predicates Designating Inner State. Slavistische Beitraege, Band 298. Muenchen, Verlag Otto Zagner. (In Russ.).
  17. New Explanatory Dictionary of Russian Synonyms (2004) Yu.D Apresyan (ed.) Moscow— Vienna: Yazyki slavyanskoi kul’tury: Venskii slavisticheskii al’manakh. (In Russ.).
  18. Paducheva, E.V. (2004). Dynamic Models in Lexical Semantics. Moscow: Yazyki slavyanskoi kul’tury. 608 p. (In Russ.).
  19. Dobrovol’skii, D.O. & Paducheva, E.V. (2014). Intensifiers: Semantics and Combinability. In Meaning — Text — Culture. Vol. 5. Studies in honour of Professor Elżbieta Jaunus. Warszawa: WUKSW. pp. 27—41. (In Russ.).

Copyright (c) 2021 Sharapova E.V.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This website uses cookies

You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website.

About Cookies