2020, Volume 17, Issue 2

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Irina V. Kryukova
Volgograd State Socio-Pedagogical University
Volgograd, Russia

Global Names in the Russian Language: The Development of Figurative Meanings

Voprosy onomastiki, 2020, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp. 241–255 (in Russian)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2020.17.2.026

Received on 15 May 2019

Abstract: This paper is devoted to semantic transformations of global names that have changed or developed new figurative (evaluative) meanings in the recent two decades. The title refers to onyms of various classes (toponyms, anthroponyms, names of goods and services, enterprises, movies, events, etc.), which are used worldwide. They are well-known to a wide number of native speakers involved in cross-cultural communication and frequently used in speech. This study aims to trace the semantic transformations of global names in the Russian language and culture, reflected in the media and mass literature of the post-Soviet era. A contextual analysis of 110 global names showcasing semantic transfers led the author to draw the following conclusions: 1) in certain contexts, global names can lose their onomastic status, acquire lexico-grammatical features of a precedent name and become part of metaphorical expressions; in this capacity, they turn into a tool of social assessment: considering the domestic culture on a par with another develops a “foreign” perspective in its evaluation; 2) each single global name can develop several figurative meanings with different degrees of metaphorization, graphic design, negative or positive connotations, and spheres of usage; 3) the development of figurative meanings of a multivalent global name is not a synchronic process. The two snapshot surveys (of 1998–2008 and 2009–2018) the author has undertaken show the expansion of the names’ meanings; the drift of meanings from nominative to symbolic; the development of ambivalent figurative meanings reflecting the ambiguous and changing attitude of the Russian native speakers to globalization and its consequences.

Keywords: global name, connotation, precedent name, comparison, metaphor, irony, polysemy, evolution of connotative meanings.


The study was funded by RFBR as part of the research project 19-012-00578 “Connotative Proper Names as a Tool of Social Assessment: A Dynamic Aspect (on the Material of Russianlanguage Texts of the Post-Soviet Period)”.


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