Analogy in semantics and semantic metalanguage issues: The case of Russian VNIMANIE ‘attention’

2020. №5, 57-75

Elena V. Uryson
Vinogradov Russian Language Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences,
Moscow, Russia;


The goal of the paper is to demonstrate that mechanisms of analogy operate not only on phonological, morphological and syntactic levels, but also on the semantic level of language. The impact of semantic analogy is exhibited both in polysemy of a certain word and in some of its meanings. Semantic analogy fi rstly generates a cell for a meaning in the structure of polysemy of a word. Secondly it forms this meaning as such. The cell for this meaning is in fact a taxonomy cell of the conceptual system of a given language. The paradox is that sometimes there is no such a notion among our everyday conceptions. In this case mechanisms of semantic analogy shape the given meaning, and so this meaning accounts not for some real notion but for “internal logic” of the language’s semantic system. The point
is that a given word in such meaning functions as if it denoted a real notion of this kind: it has syntactic and other features of words in analogous meanings but denoting real conceptions. It is self-evident that
majority of natural language words denote our everyday conceptions. There are only a few words which should be described in the terms of semantic analogy. Still one can fi nd such a word among most frequent
stylistically neutral everyday words. Russian noun VNIMANIE ‘attention’ is one of such words. On this example I demonstrate mechanisms of semantic analogy and discuss some problems of semantic metalanguage. I also discuss distinctions between semantic analogy and metaphor.

For citation:

Uryson E. V. Analogy in semantics and semantic metalanguage issues: The case of Russian VNIMANIE ‘attention’. Voprosy Jazykoznanija, 2020, 5: 57–75.


The research is supported by Russian Science Foundation (project No. 19-012-00291а). The author reported the fi rst version of this work at the conference in computational and theoretical linguistics “DIALOG-2019”. The author is grateful to conference participants and reviewers of Voprosy Jazykoznanija for constructive remarks.