Foreword: The Human Body and Linguistics

In what follows I would like to draw the reader's attention to a few interesting facts about the set of words we have selected for inclusion in the dictionary. These words, mostly names of the parts of the body, are very attractive to a lexicographer and very useful for a person who is learning Russian. In the first place, these words are among the most frequent, and hence very important to learn. Secondly, they occur in a large number of set phrases (known also as clichљs or collocations) which the learner of Russian must know. Thirdly, this set of words provides us with a large body of remarkable material for shedding light on various interesting linguistic problems, some of which I discuss below.

1. Lexical mismatches between languages

On many occasions we note the lack of one-to-one correspondence between Russian body part words and their putative English equivalents. This problem, familiar to all language learners, illustrates the language-specific nature of lexical systems.

A comparison of the semantics of Russian body part words with the semantics of their English equivalents confirms the well-known fact that every language reflects reality in its own way, even in such an "objective" universal sphere as the human or animal body. Here are some examples:

(1) The division of the body into its constituent parts

There are cases when two semantically contrasting words in English correspond to one Russian word. For example, Russian РУКЂ covers both HAND and ARM. Similarly, the Russian word НОГЂ covers both FOOT and LEG, while ПЂЛЕЦ combines the meanings of FINGER and TOE. Here are other examples of the way in which Russian and English view the human body in different terms: English, but not Russian, has a special word for the back of the neck (NAPE), while Russian, but not English, has a term for the front part of the foot that includes the toes (НОСЋК).

(2) Gestures and movements

Descriptions of gestures and movements illustrate the different ways the two languages reflect reality. Sometimes one and the same gesture or movement can be represented in the two languages by reference to different parts of the body:
толкђть в бћк (side, hip, flank) to nudge in the ribs
задрђть гћлову (head) to crane one's neck
закрІть вљки (eyelids) to close one's eyes
вљки (eyelids) поднялќсь one's eyes opened
мІть гћлову (head) to wash one's hair
обвїзывать гћрло (throat) шђрфом to wrap a scarf around one's neck
бќть по щекђм (cheeks) to slap across the face
пробќть гћлову (head) to put a hole in one's skull
размозжќть гћлову (head) to crush one's skull
подвернџть нћгу (foot) to twist an ankle
пустќть себљ пџлю в лћб (forehead) to put a bullet through one's head

(3) Figurative meanings

Russian-English lexical mismatches show up also in the figurative meanings a particular word may have. In English many of the names of body parts have figurative meanings denoting various physical objects, whereas in Russian this is less likely to be the case. For example, in none of the Russian equivalents of the following English figurative meanings of ARM is the word рукђ "arm" used:
the arm of a chair рџчка крљсла
arm in the sense of "handle" рукоїтка or рџчка
the arm of a crane стрелђ крђна
Similarly, the Russian word головђ "head" does not occur in the equivalents of these meanings of HEAD:
the head of a pin, screw, or missile голћвка булђвки, винтђ, ракљты
the head of a walking stick набалдђшник трћсти
the head of an ax топћр
(There is no word in Russian that specifically denotes the head of an ax. The word топћр denotes either the ax as a whole or the head, in contrast to топорќще "ax handle.")

In Russian, as a general rule, figurative meanings of this sort are rendered not by the name of the body part, but by a diminutive form derived from it, e.g.
рџчка (not рукђ) двљри door handle
голћвка (not головђ) винтђ head of a screw
спќнка (not спинђ) стџла back of a chair
нћжка (not ногђ) стџла leg of a chair
глазћк (not глђз) в дверќ peephole in a door
нћсик (not нћс) чђйника spout of a teapot (but note нћс кораблї "bow of a ship")
зубћк (not зџб) чеснокђ clove of garlic
гћрлышко (not гћрло) бутІлки neck of a bottle
шљйка (not шљя) позвонкђ neck of a vertebra

2. Multi-faceted semantics and collocations

The multi-faceted semantic nature of body part words serves as the basis for classifying the collocations in which they participate.

Each entry of this dictionary has a section devoted to lexical relationships; it contains collocations of the headword as well as related lexical items. The collocations are classified in a systematic way, based on how the particular body part is viewed. For example, the head can be viewed in terms of its outward appearance (a big head, a pointy head, etc.) or as a locus of injury (a blow to the head, decapitation, etc.). Consequently, one subsection under the heading Lexical Relationships in the entry ГОЛОВЂ "head" is Size and shape; aesthetics and another is Inflicting and sustaining injuries; beheading.

A part of the body may be viewed as:

The Lexical Relationships section of each dictionary entry begins with Contents, which lists all the subsections — actually an overview of the semantic facets under which this particular body part may be viewed.

As mentioned above, each of these semantic facets corresponds to a set of collocations specific to a particular language.

Listed below are the Contents in the Lexical Relationships sections for three entries:

ГЛЂЗ "eye"

ГОЛОВЂ "head" ПЂЛЕЦ "finger" These examples show that the classifications of collocations for the various parts of the body basically coincide, though an entry might contain sections that are specific to only one part of the body (plus perhaps to a few similar parts).

The classifications of collocations represent semantic facets relevant for a given body part in a given language; in other words, it is a general representation of a fragment of the linguistic picture of the world provided by the language in question, while the words and expressions contained in each section constitute the specific representation.

3. Multi-faceted semantics and synonymy

The multi-faceted nature of body part semantics is also the basis for distinguishing synonyms, i.e. for describing semantic distinctions between words having an identical referent. For example:

(1) ГРЏДЬ in the sense of "woman's breast" has many semantic facets, in particular a functional one (to feed at the breast), while БЄСТ is only the element of a woman's outward appearance. Cf.:
пІшная грџдь a large bosom
пІшный бєст a splendid bosom, a large bosom
кормќть грџдью (not *кормќть бєстом) to breastfeed
We are dealing here with the sort of synonymy where the two words refer to the same real object, but have different meanings due to the fact that they characterize the object from different points of view.

(2) СТЂН "waist, torso, body" and ТЂЛИЯ "waist," in contradistinction to ПЋЯС "waist," refer only to physical appearance. Cf.:
стрћйный стђн (not *стрћйный пћяс) a shapely waist
џзкая тђлия (not *џзкий пћяс) a narrow waist
(3) ПЋЯС "waist" and ЩЌКОЛОТКА "ankle," in contradistinction to their synonyms ТЂЛИЯ and ЛОДўЖКА, may be viewed as a level to which something contacts the body, i.e. as a spacial coordinate:
гћлый до пћяса (not *гћлый до тђлии) naked to the waist
войтќ в вћду по пћяс (not *войтќ в вћду по тђлию) to go into the water up to one's waist
єбка по щќколотку (not *єбка по лодІжку) ankle-length skirt
(4) РУКЂ "hand, arm" and КЌСТЬ "hand," aside from referential differences (кќсть is part of рукђ), differ with respect to the semantic facets they reflect: рукђ is a multifaceted word, while кќсть, when it is not simply an anatomical term (as, for example, in the sentence Емџ отрљзали лљвую кќсть "They cut off his left hand"), is an element of one's outward appearance. Cf.:
тћнкая рукђ a slender, thin hand
тћнкая кќсть a fine-boned hand
ширћкая рукђ, ширћкая кќсть a broad hand
горїчая рукђ (not *горїчая кќсть) a hot hand
лћвкая рукђ (not *лћвкая кќсть) a deft hand
рџки замёрзли (not *кќсти замёрзли) [my] hands are cold
(5) Similarly, НОГЂ "foot, leg" has many facets, but СТУПНЇ "foot" is either an anatomical term or an element of outward appearance. Cf.:
џзкая ногђ, џзкая ступнї a narrow foot
изїщная ногђ, изїщная ступнї an elegant foot
промочќть ногќ (not *промочќть ступнќ) to get one's feet wet
ногќ замёрзли (not *ступнќ замёрзли) [my] feet are cold

4. What is a part of what?

We have already given a number of examples illustrating the fact that each language represents reality in its own way. The part/whole relationship is still another interesting example of this fact. As E. V. Raxilina pointed out, although пђльцы нћг "toes," пїтка "heel," and лодІжка "ankle" are objectively parts of ступнї "foot," in the Russian language they can only be part of ногђ "leg; foot."
пђльцы прђвой ногќ (not *пђльцы прђвой ступнќ) the toes of the right foot
пїтка прђвой ногќ (not *пїтка прђвой ступнќ) the heel of the right foot
лодІжка прђвой ногќ (not *лодІжка прђвой ступнќ) the ankle of the right foot
пђльцы прђвой рукќ (not *пђльцы прђвой кќсти) the fingers of the right hand
ладћнь прђвой рукќ (not *ладћнь прђвой кќсти) the palm of the right hand
запїстье прђвой рукќ (not *запїстье прђвой кќсти) the wrist of the right hand
Information of this sort is given in the section entitled What it [the headword] is a part of.

5. Descriptions of body parts vs. descriptions of their possessors

According to the principles upon which an explanatory combinatorial dictionary is based, a dictionary entry should contain not only collocations of the headword, but also words that are semantically related to the headword. For instance, the entry ГЛЂЗ "eye" contains not only the collocation большќе глазђ "big eyes," but also the word глазђстый "big-eyed." Thus, if Russian has not only an adjective which describes a part of the body, for example, чёрные вћлосы "black hair," but also an adjective which describes a person having such a body part (черноволћсый "black-haired") or a corresponding noun (брюнљт "brunet"), then we include such words in the dictionary entry for the corresponding part of the body. For this reason the dictionary contains words such as the following, all listed in the corresponding dictionary entries:
плечќстый broad-shouldered
зубђстый large-toothed
скулђстый having prominent cheekbones
щекђстый having big cheeks
носђтый big-nosed
губђстый thick-lipped
длинноволћсый long-haired
голубоглђзый having light-blue eyes
лопоџхий lop-eared
курнћсый snub-nosed
блондќн a blond male
Apparently the class of descriptions of humans is semantically limited. Adjectives and nouns describing a person from the viewpoint of the properties of his/her body parts usually focus on permanent characteristics and, moreover, observable ones. Thus, Russian has many adjectives of the type черноволћсый "black-haired" and голубоглђзый "blue-eyed" (permanent observable properties), but there are no morphologically comparable adjectives such as *опухлоглђзый "swollen-eyed," *накрашенногџбый "lip-sticked" (temporary conditions), *шершавокћжий "rough-skinned," or *горячерџкий "hot-handed" (the latter two being tactile rather than observable properties). Although cheek color can be either a temporary or permanent property, the adjective краснощёкий "red-cheeked" usually signifies a permanent property and is less commonly applied to a person whose cheeks have gotten red from the cold.

We should make the proviso, of course, that adjectives of the type опухлоглђзый "swollen-eyed" are indeed possible in literary texts, where they are highly conspicuous because they are so unusual. On the other hand, one can find neologisms which do not violate the pattern described above and are perceived as perfectly natural literary creations. Cf. Bulgakov's nonce-forms of this sort in his Master and Margarita: румяногџбый гигђнт, золотистоволћсый, пышнощёкий Амврћсий-поіт "the ruby-lipped giant, the golden-haired, puffy-cheeked poet Ambrosius" (all permanent observable properties).

6. The evaluative lexicon

The domain of body parts includes, as one might expect, numerous evaluative expressions — expressions which reflect a positive or negative attitude on the part of the speaker toward the "possessor" of a given part of the body. Here are a few examples:

(1) The adjective белокџрый, which describes a person with blond hair, conveys no evaluative attitude on the part of the speaker, but the word белобрІсый, with an identical denotation, expresses a negative attitude toward the possessor of the hair.

(2) The collocation вІпуклые глазђ "protruding eyes" is neutral, while the adjectives лупоглђзый and пучеглђзый "bug-eyed" are pejorative.

(3) Тћнкая шљя "a slender neck" is neutral, but птќчья шљя "a bird-like neck" is pejorative.

(4) Пћлные гџбы "full lips" is neutral, пџхлые гџбы "plump lips" (usually said of a child or a young woman) is positive, and мясќстые гџбы "fleshy lips" is negative.

(5) Џзкая грџдь "a narrow chest" is neutral, but тщедџшная грџдь "frail chest" and цыплїчья грџдь "chicken chest" are pejorative.

(6) Покђчивать бёдрами "to swing one's hips" is neutral, but вилїть бёдрами, describing the same movement, is pejorative.

Curiously enough, there are many more pejorative expressions in language than there are positive ones. This is a manifestation of a general phenomenon: language (and, apparently, human consciousness) differentiates evil more finely than good, and the unpleasant more finely than the pleasant. Thus, the majority of the terms for feelings denote various unpleasant feelings.

Expressive shades of meaning of the sort neutral vs. pejorative must be distinguished from semantically — i.e. linguistically — neutral descriptions which, however, might evoke a negative reaction in a particular culture. Thus, unlike жќрное лицћ "fat face" (pejorative), the expression тћлстое лицћ "fat face" is linguistically neutral, although in modern Western culture (European, including Russian, and American) a fat face — indeed, being fat in general — is considered to be unattractive. Cf. Kuprin, in his Хрђбрые беглецІ "Brave Fugitives": Нћ пћлная дђма с ћчень мќлым, тћлстым, простІм и дћбрым лицћм возразќла вљжливо "But the plump lady with the nice, fat, ordinary, and kindly face politely objected." It is obvious that the author likes this character (she has a nice, kindly face), and the epithet fat in no way expresses a negative attitude towards her; it is simply an objective, factual description. Another example: Tolstoy's favorite character, Pierre Bezukhov, is described by the author as тћлстый молодћй человљк "a fat young man" (in the scene where Pierre appears in Anna Pavlovna's salon).

This is one of the cases where the lexicographer must distinguish between encyclopedic knowledge (the description of the world, including culture and its system of values) on the one hand, and semantics (the description of linguistic meanings) on the other.

Our dictionary provides notes with words whose meaning involves the emotional attitude of the speaker toward the possessor of a particular part of the body. The importance of such notes for the student of Russian need not be emphasized.

7. The vagaries of lexical cooccurrence

Body parts furnish us with copious illustration of the capriciousness of lexical cooccurrence. Differences in combinability of semantically similar words often follow no general rule — they appear to be pure linguistic caprice (though their existence may have some explanation in the history of the language). Collocations of this sort are particularly difficult for foreigners. Here are some examples:

(1) The word for "brown" depends on what part of the body is being described:
кђрие глазђ brown eyes
каштђновые вћлосы chestnut hair
корќчневая кћжа brown, tanned skin
(2) Similarly, color words differ for hair, moustache, and beard:

каштђновые/рџсые/белокџрые вћлосы chestnut/light-brown/blond hair
рџсая бородђ light-brown beard
But not:
*каштђновые/*рџсые/*белокџрые усІ chestnut/light-brown/blond moustache
*каштђновая/*белокџрая бородђ chestnut/blond beard
пљпельные вћлосы ash-blond hair
But not:
*пљпельные усІ ash-blond moustache
*пљпельная бородђ ash-blond beard
Some colors are appropriate for головђ "head," others are not:
рІжая/седђя головђ red/grey head
But not:
*каштђновая/*пљпельная головђ chestnut/ash-blond head
(3) The verbs зїбнуть and коченљть may be used to describe cold hands and feet:
зїбнут/коченљют рџки one's hands are cold
зїбнут/коченљют нћги one's feet are cold
But not:
*зїбнет/*коченљет головђ, спинђ, нћс, лћб one's head, back, nose, forehead, is cold
Rather, one says:
мёрзнет головђ, спинђ, нћс, лћб one's head, back, nose, forehead is cold
(4) Verbs to describe blows vary as to the part affected:

врљзать по затІлку to whack [smb.] on the back of the head
But not:
*врљзать по шље/по нћсу to whack [smb.] on the neck/nose
заљхать в нћс to punch [smb.] in the nose
But not:
*заљхать в затІлок/в шљю to punch [smb.] in the back of the head/neck
засветќть в глђз to hit [smb.] in the eye
But not:
*засветќть в нћс/в шљю/в затІлок to hit [smb.] in the nose/neck/ back of the head
Further examples:
смђзать по губђм to smack [smb.] in the mouth (lit. "on the lips")
расквђсить нћс to give [smb.] a bloody nose
двќнуть по скџле to smash [smb.] in the face (lit. "cheekbone")
дђть по шље/по затІлку/в зџбы to give [smb.] one on the neck/on the back of the head/in the teeth
(5) The choice of verb for "getting fat" depends on the body part: расползтќсь в тђлии to thicken about the waist, to gain weight around the waist But:
раздђться в бёдрах to grow wider in the hips
(6) The back seems impenetrable to bullets:
пџля пробќла емџ грџдь he was shot in the chest
But not: *пџля пробќла емџ спќну the bullet went through his back (7) One and the same physical reaction to a feeling or sensation may be expressed differently as a function of this feeling/sensation:
скрежетђть зубђми от їрости to gnash one's teeth with rage
скрипљть зубђми от бћли to grind one's teeth in pain
глазђ сверкђют от гнљва one's eyes blaze with anger
глазђ сиїют от рђдости one's eyes shine with joy
побагровљть от гнљва to turn purple with rage
But not:
*побагровљть от рђдости to turn purple with joy
стђть крђсным кђк рђк от стыдђ to turn red as a boiled crayfish from shame
But not:
*стђть крђсным кђк рђк от рђдости/г нљва to turn red as a boiled crayfish from joy/anger

8. Expressions used only in direct speech

Some fixed expressions which denote a deliberate blow to some part of a person's body can be only used in direct speech: they cannot describe a blow that has been observed by the speaker or that has previously occurred. Uttering such an expression is a particular kind of speech act, namely, a threat. For example, the expressions оторвђть/оборвђть џши "to pull [somebody's] ears off" are used only as a threat:
Смотрќ, џши оторвџ/оборвџ! You watch out or I'll pull your ears off!
But not as a description:
*Мђть оторвалђ/оборвалђ емџ џши. Mother pulled his ears off.
Мђть оттаскђла егћ зђ уши.
Мђть надралђ емџ џши.
Mother pulled his ears.
On the other hand, some expressions are used only descriptively:
бќть/хл естђть по щекђм to slap repeatedly across the face
рассљчь висћк to gash [one's] temple
Most of the expressions denoting a deliberate blow can be used both as a threat and as a description. For example:
Сейчђс как врљжу по затІлку! Now I'm really going to give you a whack on the head!
И тџт Пљтька врљзал емџ по затІлку. And then Pet'ka gave him a whack on the back of his head.
Сейчђс как дђм в зџбы! Now I'm really going to give you one in the teeth!
И тџт Пљтька дђл емџ в зџбы. And then Pet'ka gave him one in the teeth.
Сейчђс как засвечџ в глђз! Now I'm really going to give you one in the eye!
И тџт Пљтька засветќ л емџ в глђз. And then Pet'ka gave him one in the eye.
Сейчђс как двќну по скулљ! Now I'm really going to smash you in the face (lit. "cheekbone")!
И тџт Пљтька двќнул емџ по скулљ. And then Pet'ka smashed him in the face.
Another example of such "first person expressions" which cannot be used as a description is Вћт тебљ мої рукђ! lit. "Here's my hand!" It accompanies a gesture of extending the hand and is usually used when one is making a promise, offering help, or extending friendship.

9. Inalienable possession

There has been a great deal of discussion about syntactic constructions which express so-called inalienable possession, an example of which is the relationship between a part of the body and its "possessor" — the person. In Russian there are two constructions that express this relationship: the construction with the preposition у (Глазђ у Мђши слезїтся "Masha's eyes are watering") and the construction with the genitive case (Глазђ Мђши слезїтся "Masha's eyes are watering").

A number of factors determine the choice between the two. In the first place, the construction with у is possible only if the situation involves either an inherent property of the body part or a condition that does not depend on human will. This accounts for the unacceptability of these sentences:
*Глазђ у Мђши всљм нрђвятся. Everybody likes Masha's eyes (lit. "The eyes of Masha appeal to everyone").
*Глазђ у Мђши скользнџли по егћ лицџ. Masha cast her eyes over his face. (lit. "The eyes of Masha glided over his face").
The following, however, are totally acceptable:
Глазђ у Мђши голубІе (an inherent property). Masha has blue eyes.
Глазђ у Мђши слезїтся (a condition independent of Masha's will). Masha's eyes are watering.
The second factor is the communicative orientation, i.e. what the utterance is about — what it is we are describing. If the person is in the focus of our attention, and the property or condition of the body part serves only as a description of the person, then the construction with у is preferable. But if the body part itself is in the focus of our attention, the construction without у is preferable. Thus, in describing the physical features of an ethnic group, when the people's external appearance is used only as a way of characterizing them, the construction with у is the more natural one. For example:
Нћги у жќтелей ітого ћстрова покрІты їркой татуирћвкой. The legs of the people who live on this island are covered with brightly colored tattoos.
But if it is the actual part of the body that occupies the focus of our attention, then the construction without the preposition is preferable, as in the following text:
«ТІ тћлько посмотрќ на егћ нћги!» — восклќкнула Тђня. И в сђмом дљле, нћги Пљтьки бІли покрІты їркой татуирћвкой. "Just look at his legs!" exclaimed Tanya. And indeed, Pet'ka's legs were covered with brightly colored tattoos.
The person is in the focus of our attention when we describe the sensations located in some part of the body. For example, the utterance Ћй, кђк головђ трещќт! "Oh, what a splitting headache" [lit. "how the head is splitting"] is an utterance about the person's own general state. That is why the construction with у is the more normal one in fixed expressions referring to sensations. One says, for example:
У менї головђ трещќт. My head is splitting.
But not:
*Мої головђ трещќт. My head is splitting.
The syntax section of the dictionary entry specifies the possibility of using the у-construction to express the possessor (глазђ у Мђши) in addition to constructions in which the possessor of the body part is expressed by the genitive case (глазђ Мђши "Masha's eyes") or by a possessive (Мђшины глазђ). Also, we note that the у- construction is possible only in the absence of a descriptive modifier, i.e. a modifier which does not simply single out this item from the class of similar items for the purposes of identification (a restrictive modifier), but rather describes it and gives it some additional characterization. Thus, one cannot say:
*Подкрђшенные глазђ у Мђши слезќлись. Masha's made-up eyes were watering.
But one can say:
Прђвый глђз у Мђши слезќлся. Masha's right eye was watering.
In the above example подкрђшенный "made up" is a descriptive modifier, while прђвый "right" is a restrictive modifier.

10. Humans and animals

Although the main goal of this dictionary is to describe parts of the body in humans, we do not exclude discussion of animals — if the name of a human body part refers to the corresponding part of an animal as well. Here, too, we find cases of lexical mismatches between the languages. Thus, the Russian word усІ "moustache" can refer to both humans and animals (кошђчьи усІ "cat's moustache"), but in English a man wears a moustache, while a cat has whiskers. Of course, most of the collocations in the dictionary describe human beings; however, there are some that refer to both humans and animals as well as some that refer only to animals. Thus, in the entry ЗЏБ "tooth" the collocations describing tooth care and treatment refer only to humans, those related to the function of teeth (masticating food) refer to both, and the collocation щёлкать зубђми "snap one's teeth" refers only to animals. In the entry ЏХО "ear" there are many collocations that describe only animals:
вќслые џши floppy ears
лохмђтые џши shaggy ears
прижимђть џши к головљ to pin back the ears
встрїхивать ушђми to flick the ears
It is an interesting fact that many of the pejorative names for parts of the human body are the normal names for those parts in animals: (a) лицћ face мћрда, рІло mug, snout (b) (c)
рукђ hand
лђпа paw
нћгти nails
кћгти claws
Similarly, many negative descriptions of parts of the body are rendered by comparisons with animals:
цыплїчья грџдь a narrow chest (lit. "a chicken chest")
свинІе глђзки pig eyes
бульдћжья чљлюсть bulldog jaw
козлќная бородђ goatish beard
козлќная борћдка goatee
бІчья шљя bull neck
птќчья шљя bird-like neck
Positively evaluating expressions do exist, but there are far fewer of them:
лебедќная шљя swan-like neck
львќная головђ leonine head
It is not always easy to decide whether a given word or expression referring to an animal is the "normal" one or whether it is being used by analogy with humans. This difficulty is due to our anthropomorphic tendencies, particularly in talking about pets. For example, when talking about animals, we have a tendency to use ready-made set expressions that usually refer to humans. That is apparently the case in the following example, taken from Ol'ga Perovskaja's book Rebjata i zverjata:
Онќ [волчђта] опрокќдывались на спќну, дрІгали в вћздухе ногђми... They [the wolf pups] turned over on their backs and kicked their feet in the air...
Although Perovskaja usually uses the word лђпа "paw" in speaking of pups, she uses the word ногђ here instead because it is part of the set expression дрІгать ногђми "to kick one's feet."

I could continue adducing further examples of interesting linguistic problems illustrated by the material contained in this little dictionary, but this may not be necessary: I hope that what has been said is already sufficient to show its usefulness and interest to both the student of Russian and to the linguist.

L. Iordanskaja