The art of being negative: Metonymical morphological constructions in contrast

  • Tore Nesset University of Tromsø


This paper explores the metonymic nature of grammar by contrasting a Russian and a Norwegian morphological construction that give (mostly) negative characterizations of people. The meanings of the constructions are strikingly similar, and it is argued that they cannot be properly understood without recourse to metonymy. However, while Norwegian employs compounding, the morphological strategy used in the Russian construction is derivation. It is demonstrated that these differences are not idiosyncratic facts about Norwegian and Russian, since there is systemic motivation for the differences between the two languages.

Author Biography

Tore Nesset, University of Tromsø
Professor of Russian Linguistics