The phenomenon of peripheral overlap in semantic networks: Russian prefixes PRI- and POD-

2016. №5, 79-94

Anastasia B. Makarova
University of Tromsø — The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, 9037, Norway;


Using a comparative analysis of the semantics of Russian prefixes pri- and pod-, the present article demonstrates the advantages of representing linguistic units characterized by complex semantics in terms of semantic networks with prototype and periphery. This kind of analysis enables us to identify similarities and differences between linguistic units, as well as helps us better understand partial synonymy. Unlike other existing works, where the overlap in the prototype and central elements of semantic networks is described, we focus on the peripheral overlap of semantic networks. We show that semantic networks of the prefixes pri- and pod- in Russian, which have different spatial prototypes, display a significant overlap on the periphery of their radial categories. In the overlapping zone we find attenuativity and the related submeanings. Using the toolbox of cognitive linguistics and data from the Russian National Corpus, we reveal connections between attenuative and spatial submeanings of the two prefixes and explain the existence of the overlap between their semantic networks.