Reconstructing the lexicon of imprecations: The category of actor and peculiarities of its textual implementation (with special reference to Russian dialectal vocabulary).

2018. №3, 89-111

Elena L. Berezovich@, Olesia D. Surikova
Ural Federal University, Ekaterinburg, 620000, Russian Federation; @


The article analyzes some imprecations found in Russian dialect dictionaries and unpublished field sources. Having considered the logical and semantic structure of imprecations, the authors address the category of actor, which is notable for a wide repertoire of semantic roles and a broad range of lexical tools. An actor is a creature, object, phenomenon that, according to the imprecation executor’s intention, should harm the cursed person. The actor’s logical roles, evidenced in the texts of imprecations, are highlighted; semantic types of units designating the actor are defined. Special attention is given to the so-called quasiactors that are conditioned by the context and do not function as independent nominative units; linguistic mechanisms contributing to the appearance of quasi-actors (lexical inertia, verbal derivation) are studied as well. The role of linguistic taboos in the processes of nominative realization of actor is examined. Based on the highlighted characteristics, a semantic, motivational, and etymological reconstruction of some words with unclear semantics functioning in the imprecations is implemented.