Hard on the outside, but tender on the inside: polysemy of adjectives denoting tactile sensations

2020. № 3 (25), 228-252

T.V. Krylova Vinogradov Russian Language Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Russia, Moscow) ta-kr@yandex.ru


This article discusses the lexicographic type “adjectives with the meaning of tactile sensation.” In the first part we give a general description of the polysemy structure of words belonging to this type, and also list their common values. Then, within this type, we select two semantic groups (words that characterize the smoothness of a surface and words that characterize the possibility of deformation) and describe the differences in the set of their values. Next, we consider the polysemy of adjectives myagkii ʻsoft,ʼ and tverdyi ʻhard.ʼ We pay special attention to the description of the mechanisms of metaphorical transfers. The central task of the article is to compare the metaphorical potential of different lexemes of a polysemic word, and to establish the regularities on which it depends. The study of the adjective tverdyi ʻhardʼ showed that the decisive factor in determining the metaphorical potential of a particular value is the presence of its evaluation. The study of the polysemy of the words myagkii ʻsoft,ʼ and zhestkii ʻrigidʼ confirmed this conclusion. In addition, it was found that in metaphorical transfer, the aforementioned appraisal is carried over.