This article studies patterns of the type яжемать in Russian and shows the insufficiency of the so-called “word-dependent” (system-oriented) approach to the description of semantics and derivational structure of speech units (Russ. яжемать is originally the phrase я же мать, approximately ‘I’m a mother, in fact’, functioning as a single word in the sentence). According to this approach, words and morphemes are self-sufficient sense-generating entities, and the linguist needs to determine their structural properties correctly defi ning their meaning on the base of these properties. Meanwhile, the representation of the speech process as a certain number of formalsemantic elements organising themselves into self-suffi cient rules is not quite adequate when describing the reason for the occurrence of words and their communicative purpose. Besides, most of these elements and rules are interpreted diff erently by linguists. The diff erence in the interpretation depends on what scientifi c area or a direction the linguist follows. It also depends on the scope of the test material examined by the linguist. The article shows that within the framework of the “word-dependent” approach, there is no common understanding of the essence of a compound word, nor a common approach to the means of forming compounds, nor a common interpretation as to whether certain means of word formation (in particular, lexico-syntactic means) should be regarded as diachronic or synchronic. Therefore, such speech units as яжемать cannot be described consistently either in terms of a word-formation process, nor from the point of view of their belonging to occasional words or common everyday words, nor from the point of view of their diachronic structure. The “word-dependent” approach to communicative phenomena turns out to be insuffi cient. Word-formation per se is not responsible for attributing the meaning to the word. It is the speaker who grants the meaning, and this is relevant not exclusively to the isolated word sign as the speaker is acting within the whole conceivable communicative situation (of a speech act). Only by reproducing the conceivable communicative situation, one can understand the meaning which the speaker attributes to speech units within a certain communicative situation. Besides, one should remember that language signs are never identical to themselves. In this paper, I analyse sources which contain speakers’ metalinguistic reflection on the pattern яжемать. The conclusion is that speakers of Russian have made the language element (initially, the hashtag #яжемать) “responsible” for the sense “mother violating socially acceptable rules of behaviour in favour of her child or in order to defend herself or her child”. Subsequently, this pattern came to be productive not only with regard to ‘mothers’, but also to their children (онжеребёнок), relatives (яжебабка), and, more broadly, to any persons (яжиндивидуум).
compound, means of word formation, lexico-syntactic means of word formation, sense-generating, occasional word, language usage, word-dependent approach, speaker, communication, conceivable communicative situation of speech act
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Albrekht Fedor Academic Degree:
Candidate of Sciences*
in Philology; Academic Rank:
Associate Professor; Place of work:
Maxim Gorky Institute of Literature and Creative Writing; 25 Tverskoi Boulevard, Moscow 123104, Russian Federation; St. Tikhon’s University for the Humanities; Ilovaiskaia Str. 9, Moscow 109651, Russian Federation; Post:
associate Professor of the Department of the Russian Language and the Stylistics; ORCID: 0000-0002-8965-6908
*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.