Binomials in Russian Speech: Semantic Types and Objective and Subjective Frequency


  • Zoya Rezanova
  • Aleksandra Bub



This article studies the functioning of a particular type of collocations in Russian speech, whose elements are typically connected by means of coordination. The purpose of the article is to reveal the correlation between the objective and subjective frequency of binomials and the discursive variation of this parameter, as well as the types and nature of the idiomatisation of their meaning. The analysis is conducted with reference to texts from the Russian National Corpus, main corpus, and newspaper, oral, and poetic subcorpora, along with data from dictionaries of idioms and psycholinguistic questionnaires. The analysis is based on the methods of corpus linguistics (at the stages of material selection and objective frequency count); psycholinguistics (at the stage of subjective frequency count); and distributive analysis. The authors also employ statistical methods to analyse the obtained data. The analysis helps the authors determine and describe the composition of binomials: the units are ranked according to the average and discursively determined frequency of their usage in Russian speech. The authors also determine the scope of variation of the discursively determined frequency of binomials in the oral, newspaper, and poetic subcorpora. They single out the most frequent binomials, whose functional characteristics are discursively independent, as well as binomials, whose frequency depends on the type of discourse. The results of the objective frequency data analysis are compared with data on subjective awareness of their frequency by native speakers of the Russian language. The authors use the scaling method to establish the subjective frequency of binomials during a psycholinguistic survey. When drawing a functional and semantic typology, the authors contrast groups of binominals according to the presence or absence of secondary idiomatic meanings and their types (formed on the basis of relations of generalisation and metonymy) on the one hand, and metaphor on the other. A list of polysemantic binomials is compiled. The study helps reveal the prevalence of binomials that do not develop polysemy, whose functioning in the text is not associated with the idiomatisation of their meaning based on metaphorical or metonymic transfers or generalisation. Semantic types of binomials are characterised in terms of their frequency. The received data are used to test the hypothesis about the correlation between the degree of semantic cohesion of the components of binomials and the development of polysemy and their frequency. As a result, a positive correlation is found between frequency and the development of polysemy.

Author Biographies

Zoya Rezanova

Dr. Hab. (Philology), Professor, Head of General Slavic-Russian Linguistics and Classical Philology Department, Tomsk State University.

36, Lenin Ave., 634050, Tomsk, Russia.

Aleksandra Bub

PhD Student, Tomsk State University.

36, Lenin Ave., 634050, Tomsk, Russia.


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How to Cite

Rezanova, Z., & Bub, A. (2017). Binomials in Russian Speech: Semantic Types and Objective and Subjective Frequency. Quaestio Rossica, 5(4), 1164–1177.