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 clichеs 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 РУКА covers both HAND and ARM. Similarly, the Russian word НОГА covers both FOOT and LEG, while ПАЛЕЦ 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 (НОСОК).

(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:
толкать в бок (side, hip, flank) to nudge in the ribs
задрать голову (head) to crane one's neck
закрыть веки (eyelids) to close one's eyes
веки (eyelids) поднялись one's eyes opened
мыть голову (head) to wash one's hair
обвязывать горло (throat) шарфом to wrap a scarf around one's neck
бить по щекам (cheeks) to slap across the face
пробить голову (head) to put a hole in one's skull
размозжить голову (head) to crush one's skull
подвернуть ногу (foot) to twist an ankle
пустить себе пулю в лоб (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 рука "arm" used:
the arm of a chair ручка кресла
arm in the sense of "handle" рукоятка or ручка
the arm of a crane стрела крана
Similarly, the Russian word голова "head" does not occur in the equivalents of these meanings of HEAD:
the head of a pin, screw, or missile головка булавки, винта, ракеты
the head of a walking stick набалдашник трости
the head of an ax топор
(There is no word in Russian that specifically denotes the head of an ax. The word топор denotes either the ax as a whole or the head, in contrast to топорище "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.
ручка (not рука) двери door handle
головка (not голова) винта head of a screw
спинка (not спина) стула back of a chair
ножка (not нога) стула leg of a chair
глазок (not глаз) в двери peephole in a door
носик (not нос) чайника spout of a teapot (but note нос корабля "bow of a ship")
зубок (not зуб) чеснока clove of garlic
горлышко (not горло) бутылки neck of a bottle
шейка (not шея) позвонка 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 ГОЛОВА "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:

ГЛАЗ "eye"

ГОЛОВА "head" ПАЛЕЦ "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) ГРУДЬ in the sense of "woman's breast" has many semantic facets, in particular a functional one (to feed at the breast), while БЮСТ is only the element of a woman's outward appearance. Cf.:
пышная грудь a large bosom
пышный бюст a splendid bosom, a large bosom
кормить грудью (not *кормить бюстом) 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) СТАН "waist, torso, body" and ТАЛИЯ "waist," in contradistinction to ПОЯС "waist," refer only to physical appearance. Cf.:
стройный стан (not *стройный пояс) a shapely waist
узкая талия (not *узкий пояс) a narrow waist
(3) ПОЯС "waist" and ЩИКОЛОТКА "ankle," in contradistinction to their synonyms ТАЛИЯ and ЛОДЫЖКА, may be viewed as a level to which something contacts the body, i.e. as a spacial coordinate:
голый до пояса (not *голый до талии) naked to the waist
войти в воду по пояс (not *войти в воду по талию) to go into the water up to one's waist
юбка по щиколотку (not *юбка по лодыжку) ankle-length skirt
(4) РУКА "hand, arm" and КИСТЬ "hand," aside from referential differences (кисть is part of рука), differ with respect to the semantic facets they reflect: рука is a multifaceted word, while кисть, when it is not simply an anatomical term (as, for example, in the sentence Ему отрезали левую кисть "They cut off his left hand"), is an element of one's outward appearance. Cf.:
тонкая рука a slender, thin hand
тонкая кисть a fine-boned hand
широкая рука, широкая кисть a broad hand
горячая рука (not *горячая кисть) a hot hand
ловкая рука (not *ловкая кисть) a deft hand
руки замёрзли (not *кисти замёрзли) [my] hands are cold
(5) Similarly, НОГА "foot, leg" has many facets, but СТУПНЯ "foot" is either an anatomical term or an element of outward appearance. Cf.:
узкая нога, узкая ступня a narrow foot
изящная нога, изящная ступня an elegant foot
промочить ноги (not *промочить ступни) to get one's feet wet
ноги замёрзли (not *ступни 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 пальцы ног "toes," пятка "heel," and лодыжка "ankle" are objectively parts of ступня "foot," in the Russian language they can only be part of нога "leg; foot."
пальцы правой ноги (not *пальцы правой ступни) the toes of the right foot
пятка правой ноги (not *пятка правой ступни) the heel of the right foot
лодыжка правой ноги (not *лодыжка правой ступни) the ankle of the right foot
пальцы правой руки (not *пальцы правой кисти) the fingers of the right hand
ладонь правой руки (not *ладонь правой кисти) the palm of the right hand
запястье правой руки (not *запястье правой кисти) 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 ГЛАЗ "eye" contains not only the collocation большие глаза "big eyes," but also the word глазастый "big-eyed." Thus, if Russian has not only an adjective which describes a part of the body, for example, чёрные волосы "black hair," but also an adjective which describes a person having such a body part (черноволосый "black-haired") or a corresponding noun (брюнет "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:
плечистый broad-shouldered
зубастый large-toothed
скуластый having prominent cheekbones
щекастый having big cheeks
носатый big-nosed
губастый thick-lipped
длинноволосый long-haired
голубоглазый having light-blue eyes
лопоухий lop-eared
курносый snub-nosed
блондин 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 черноволосый "black-haired" and голубоглазый "blue-eyed" (permanent observable properties), but there are no morphologically comparable adjectives such as *опухлоглазый "swollen-eyed," *накрашенногубый "lip-sticked" (temporary conditions), *шершавокожий "rough-skinned," or *горячерукий "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 опухлоглазый "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: румяногубый гигант, золотистоволосый, пышнощёкий Амвросий-поэт "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 белокурый, which describes a person with blond hair, conveys no evaluative attitude on the part of the speaker, but the word белобрысый, with an identical denotation, expresses a negative attitude toward the possessor of the hair.

(2) The collocation выпуклые глаза "protruding eyes" is neutral, while the adjectives лупоглазый and пучеглазый "bug-eyed" are pejorative.

(3) Тонкая шея "a slender neck" is neutral, but птичья шея "a bird-like neck" is pejorative.

(4) Полные губы "full lips" is neutral, пухлые губы "plump lips" (usually said of a child or a young woman) is positive, and мясистые губы "fleshy lips" is negative.

(5) Узкая грудь "a narrow chest" is neutral, but тщедушная грудь "frail chest" and цыплячья грудь "chicken chest" are pejorative.

(6) Покачивать бёдрами "to swing one's hips" is neutral, but вилять 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 жирное лицо "fat face" (pejorative), the expression толстое лицо "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 Храбрые беглецы "Brave Fugitives": Но полная дама с очень милым, толстым, простым и добрым лицом возразила вежливо "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 толстый молодой человек "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:
карие глаза brown eyes
каштановые волосы chestnut hair
коричневая кожа brown, tanned skin
(2) Similarly, color words differ for hair, moustache, and beard:

каштановые/русые/белокурые волосы chestnut/light-brown/blond hair
русая борода light-brown beard
But not:
*каштановые/*русые/*белокурые усы chestnut/light-brown/blond moustache
*каштановая/*белокурая борода chestnut/blond beard
пепельные волосы ash-blond hair
But not:
*пепельные усы ash-blond moustache
*пепельная борода ash-blond beard
Some colors are appropriate for голова "head," others are not:
рыжая/седая голова red/grey head
But not:
*каштановая/*пепельная голова chestnut/ash-blond head
(3) The verbs зябнуть and коченеть may be used to describe cold hands and feet:
зябнут/коченеют руки one's hands are cold
зябнут/коченеют ноги one's feet are cold
But not:
*зябнет/*коченеет голова, спина, нос, лоб one's head, back, nose, forehead, is cold
Rather, one says:
мёрзнет голова, спина, нос, лоб one's head, back, nose, forehead is cold
(4) Verbs to describe blows vary as to the part affected:

врезать по затылку to whack [smb.] on the back of the head
But not:
*врезать по шее/по носу to whack [smb.] on the neck/nose
заехать в нос to punch [smb.] in the nose
But not:
*заехать в затылок/в шею to punch [smb.] in the back of the head/neck
засветить в глаз to hit [smb.] in the eye
But not:
*засветить в нос/в шею/в затылок to hit [smb.] in the nose/neck/ back of the head
Further examples:
смазать по губам to smack [smb.] in the mouth (lit. "on the lips")
расквасить нос to give [smb.] a bloody nose
двинуть по скуле to smash [smb.] in the face (lit. "cheekbone")
дать по шее/по затылку/в зубы 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: расползтись в талии to thicken about the waist, to gain weight around the waist But:
раздаться в бёдрах to grow wider in the hips
(6) The back seems impenetrable to bullets:
пуля пробила ему грудь he was shot in the chest
But not: *пуля пробила ему спину 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:
скрежетать зубами от ярости to gnash one's teeth with rage
скрипеть зубами от боли to grind one's teeth in pain
глаза сверкают от гнева one's eyes blaze with anger
глаза сияют от радости one's eyes shine with joy
побагроветь от гнева to turn purple with rage
But not:
*побагроветь от радости to turn purple with joy
стать красным как рак от стыда to turn red as a boiled crayfish from shame
But not:
*стать красным как рак от радости/г нева 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 оторвать/оборвать уши "to pull [somebody's] ears off" are used only as a threat:
Смотри, уши оторву/оборву! You watch out or I'll pull your ears off!
But not as a description:
*Мать оторвала/оборвала ему уши. Mother pulled his ears off.
Мать оттаскала его за уши.
Мать надрала ему уши.
Mother pulled his ears.
On the other hand, some expressions are used only descriptively:
бить/хл естать по щекам to slap repeatedly across the face
рассечь висок 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:
Сейчас как врежу по затылку! Now I'm really going to give you a whack on the head!
И тут Петька врезал ему по затылку. And then Pet'ka gave him a whack on the back of his head.
Сейчас как дам в зубы! Now I'm really going to give you one in the teeth!
И тут Петька дал ему в зубы. And then Pet'ka gave him one in the teeth.
Сейчас как засвечу в глаз! Now I'm really going to give you one in the eye!
И тут Петька засвети л ему в глаз. And then Pet'ka gave him one in the eye.
Сейчас как двину по скуле! Now I'm really going to smash you in the face (lit. "cheekbone")!
И тут Петька двинул ему по скуле. And then Pet'ka smashed him in the face.
Another example of such "first person expressions" which cannot be used as a description is Вот тебе моя рука! 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 (Глаза у Маши слезятся "Masha's eyes are watering") and the construction with the genitive case (Глаза Маши слезятся "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:
*Глаза у Маши всем нравятся. Everybody likes Masha's eyes (lit. "The eyes of Masha appeal to everyone").
*Глаза у Маши скользнули по его лицу. Masha cast her eyes over his face. (lit. "The eyes of Masha glided over his face").
The following, however, are totally acceptable:
Глаза у Маши голубые (an inherent property). Masha has blue eyes.
Глаза у Маши слезятся (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:
Ноги у жителей этого острова покрыты яркой татуировкой. 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:
«Ты только посмотри на его ноги!» — воскликнула Таня. И в самом деле, ноги Петьки были покрыты яркой татуировкой. "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 Ой, как голова трещит! "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 меня голова трещит. My head is splitting.
But not:
*Моя голова трещит. My head is splitting.
The syntax section of the dictionary entry specifies the possibility of using the у-construction to express the possessor (глаза у Маши) in addition to constructions in which the possessor of the body part is expressed by the genitive case (глаза Маши "Masha's eyes") or by a possessive (Машины глаза). 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:
*Подкрашенные глаза у Маши слезились. Masha's made-up eyes were watering.
But one can say:
Правый глаз у Маши слезился. Masha's right eye was watering.
In the above example подкрашенный "made up" is a descriptive modifier, while правый "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 усы "moustache" can refer to both humans and animals (кошачьи усы "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 ЗУБ "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 зубами "snap one's teeth" refers only to animals. In the entry УХО "ear" there are many collocations that describe only animals:
вислые уши floppy ears
лохматые уши shaggy ears
прижимать уши к голове to pin back the ears
встряхивать ушами 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) лицо face морда, рыло mug, snout (b) (c)
рука hand
лапа paw
ногти nails
когти claws
Similarly, many negative descriptions of parts of the body are rendered by comparisons with animals:
цыплячья грудь a narrow chest (lit. "a chicken chest")
свиные глазки pig eyes
бульдожья челюсть bulldog jaw
козлиная борода goatish beard
козлиная бородка goatee
бычья шея bull neck
птичья шея bird-like neck
Positively evaluating expressions do exist, but there are far fewer of them:
лебединая шея swan-like neck
львиная голова 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:
Они [волчата] опрокидывались на спину, дрыгали в воздухе ногами... They [the wolf pups] turned over on their backs and kicked their feet in the air...
Although Perovskaja usually uses the word лапа "paw" in speaking of pups, she uses the word нога here instead because it is part of the set expression дрыгать ногами "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