The purpose of our presentation is to clarify semantic differences between two Russian constructions vot imenno and to-to i ono and to find their functional equivalents in German and Swedish.
The semantic structure of particles and constructions such as grammatical phrasemes and syntactic idioms is so intricate that it is often impossible to find appropriate equivalents in other languages. While translating utterances containing such constructions other means have to be used. However, while compiling bilingual dictionaries, a lexicographer has to find equivalents on the lexical level. At present we are engaged in a Russian-Swedish lexicographic project.
Such phrases as vot imenno and to-to i ono are very important for communication; nevertheless present-day Russian-Swedish dictionaries do not explain the difference between the Swedish near-eqiuvalents to Russian vot imenno (just det and precis), while to-to i ono is not considered at all.
The starting point of our investigation is previous research of two German focus particles eben and gerade and their Russian near-equivalents imenno and kak raz (Dobrovol‘skij, Levontina 2012). The analysis of the German particle eben used as an independent utterance (Satzäquivalent) has shown that it has two near-equivalents in Russian – to-to i ono and vot imenno which are not quite synonymous.
In the present study, we suggest the following working hypothesis: to-to i ono and vot imenno have different meanings but in some contexts they coincide pragmatically. Contextual synonymy of these constructions is possible in contexts in which some relevant semantic features are neutralized.
The construction vot imenno expresses full agreement with the interlocutor’s statement. The meaning of to-to i ono can be roughly paraphrased as following: ‘a certain aspect in a situation, often considered to be secondary or unimportant by the interlocutor, is the central element for understanding the situation as a whole’. The pragmatic consequence is that the speaker often expresses disagreement with the interlocutor. The German particle eben points out that the focused aspect of the situation is the most important, central for understanding the whole situation. The pragmatic consequence is that eben may be used by the speaker to express both agreement and disagreement.
Both vot imenno and to-to i ono may be used as separate utterances, this ability goes back to different semantic properties. The meaning of imenno is based on the idea of confirmation, of agreement with the interlocutor, while the German particle eben points to the most important, central element of the situation. Using relevant lexicographic information and large text corpora, among them parallel corpora, we are going to:
(a) clarify the use of vot imenno and to-to i ono as independent utterances and matrix predicates (vot imenno, čto Р and to-to i ono, čto Р);
(b) discuss their near-equivalents in German and Swedish.
Zagreb, Croatia, 2012.
constructions, semantics, synonymy, Russian, German, Swedish, cross-linguistic equivalence