Word of the Year 2015

Arto Mustajoki, Harry Walter, Irina Vepreva

Abstract


The article analyses the Russian project “Word of the Year 2015” as compared to similar Finnish and German projects. The main parameters of the most important words in literature are compared with the characteristics of the words included in the rating list of the year. The authors demonstrate that words of the year correlate with the parameters of the most popular words, but are not identical. The research defines the principles behind the formation of the Russian word list. The selection is based on expert evaluation of the frequent units of this year: this makes the resulting word list a diverse phenomenon. First, a number of lexical units of the year are united in open thematic groups which reflect those that were semantically dominant in the course of the year. Units naming the most significant events of the year also enter the list. Words of the year are a kind of trademark identity for the year, systematically reflected in vivid and recognizable units of nomination. Such markers are mainly neologisms and set expressions that have appeared as part of real situations. A special group is made up of common lexical units which get foregrounded and as a result acquire semantic increments owing to the frequency of their use and expansion of their lexical compatibility. There are two thematic groups on the 2015 list that describe the semantic dominants of the year: 1) “the foreboding of war” and 2) “the limits of the acceptable and the unacceptable”.


Keywords


most important words; lexicology; semantic dominant; frequency; neologism; semantic increment.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15826/qr.2016.4.195

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