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Om orsaker till färgförändring - vad blir man grön och röd av i ryska och svenska?
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Slavic and Baltic Studies, Finnish, Dutch, and German, Slavic Languages.
2016 (Swedish)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Colour is essential to our perception of the world, regardless of the country we live in or what language we speak. Colour terms are part of all languages.

Describing change of colour may be a way of underlining an emotion. Telling that a person turned green with envy, gives a more powerful picture of the person’s envy than just writing that he or she became very envious.

Sometimes the change of colour is just a metaphor - no actual change of colour has occurred. In other cases describing a change of colour may be meant literally.

Change of colour may be expressed in different ways in different languages. They may be expressed by using an auxiliary verb, describing the change, preceding the colour, e.g. become green or turn red. They may also be expressed using a specific verb that expresses the change of colour, such as redden or whiten.

This essay compares constructions describing changes to the colours red and green in Russian and Swedish. It focuses on the following issues: Which are the most common causes of colour change in the two languages? How prevalent is the use of colour change as a metaphor? Which are the expressions most commonly used expressing change of colour to red and to green? How common are constructions using an auxiliary verb as opposed to specific verbs describing colour change?

The analysis is corpus based, drawing on material partly from the Russian Nacional’nyj korpus russkogo jazyka, partly from the Swedish corpus Språkbanken. A difficulty is that the material in the two corpuses differs considerably as to age as well as to style. Thus, only conclusions based on very clear differences between the languages can be considered reliable.

Some conclusions:

  • Metaphorical use of colour change occurs in both languages and is common particularly for change of colour to green.

  • The frequency of the causes for colour change differs considerably between the languages, regardless of whether the change of colour is meant metaphorically or literally.

  • In Swedish, practically the only cause for metaphoric change of colour to green is envy. This metaphor is present also in Russian, but is far less frequent. Instead, different expressions of anger, to a varying degree, dominate.

  • In the Russian material, time is the dominating cause of literal change of colour to green. The Swedish material, holding only few cases of literal change of colour to green, shows no example of this.

  • In the Swedish material, the dominating cause of change of colour to red is shame. This is also an important cause in the Russian material. However, here different expressions of joy, dominate.

The use of specific verbs describing colour change is significantly more common in Russian than in Swedish

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 50 p.
Keyword [sv]
Korpuslingvistik, konstruktionsgrammatik, metafor, färg, färgförändring
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-133442OAI: diva2:960116
Educational program
Available from: 2016-09-15 Created: 2016-09-07 Last updated: 2016-09-15Bibliographically approved

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