Baltic accent

2023 Vol. 14 №4

Back to the list Download the article

Semantic transformation of the noun mamochka: from ‘wife’ to ‘cannon’



In the semantic theory of Gottlob Frege, the content of a linguistic sign is determined by the connection between the meaning and a set of subjective perceptions that form the mean­ing. Our study aims to reveal the influence of individual perceptions of the meaning on the extension of the semantic structure of a word, using the kinship term ‘mamochka’ as an ex­ample. The article focuses on instances where the word ‘mamochka’ is used in fiction and, to some extent, Internet texts. The article examines cases spanning from the 1840s to the 2010s to explore the secondary usage of the term. The corpus, comprising a total of 2,192 cases, was carefully collected and annotated. Out of these cases, 362 examples were identified as instanc­es of secondary usage. Each example was analyzed and categorized based on its type of use, including appellative (address), referential, or interjective use. Furthermore, for the secondary instances, the type of the meaning was also marked for accurate classification and analysis. The study delineated the semantic structure of the word ‘mamochka’ based on its various us­es. Common meanings encompassed appellative and referential usages, denoting a wife, a woman fulfilling maternal roles, or a woman with a young child. Additionally, unique mean­ings emerged for specific contexts, such as a friend, a man, a non-living object, or even the caretaker of an animal. The investigation also uncovered systemic connections among these meanings, along with the dynamic transformations they underwent over time in the dia­chronic aspect.


Bobrik, M. A., 2021. Pragmaticalization mechanisms in the history of the Russian farewell formula sčastlívo! Voprosy Jazykoznanija [Topics in the study of language], 1, pp. 70—83, (in Russ.).

Buras, M. M. and Krongauz, M. A., 2013. Terms of address in Russian family eti­quette: Semantics and pragmatics. Voprosy Jazykoznanija [Topics in the study of lan­guage], 2, pp. 121—131 (in Russ.).

Dal, V. I., 1911. Tolkovyi slovar' zhivogo velikorusskogo yazyka: v 4 t. [Explanatory dictionary of the living Great Russian language: in 4 vols.]. Vol. 4. 3d ed. St. Peters­burg; Moscow (in Russ.).

Efremova, T. E., 2000. Novyi slovar' russkogo yazyka. Tolkovo-slovoobrazovatel'nyi [New Dictionary of the Russian Language. Explanatory and Word-Formation Dic­tionary]. Moscow (in Russ.).

Evgen'eva, A. P., ed., 1984. Slovar' russkogo yazyka: V 4-kh t. [Russian Language Dictionary: In 4 volumes]. Vol. 4. Moscow (in Russ.).

Fashola, J. O., 2014. Reawakening African Cultural Practices towards Global Harmony: Role of Kinship. Review of Arts and Humanities, 3 (2), pp. 101—113.

Fregе, G., 1997. Sense and Denotation. Semiotika i informatika [Semiotics and In­formatics], 35, pp. 351—379 (in Russ.).

Kinnison, L. Q., 2017. Power, integrity, and mask — An attempt to disentangle the Chinese face concept. Journal of Pragmatics, 114, pp. 32—48, 1016/j.pragma.2017.03.015.

Krysin, L. P., ed., 2014. Tolkovyi slovar' russkoi razgovornoi rechi [Explanatory Dic­tionary of Russian Colloquial Speech]. Vol. 2. Moscow (in Russ.).

Kuznetsov, S. A., ed., 1998. Bol'shoi tolkovyi slovar' russkogo yazyka: A—Ya [Great Explanatory Dictionary of the Russian Language: A—Z]. St. Petersburg (in Russ.).

Natsional'nyi korpus russkogo yazyka [The Russian National Corpus]. Available at: [Accessed 11 May 2023].

Ozhegov, S. I. and Shvedova, N. Yu., eds., 1997. Tolkovyi slovar' russkogo yazyka [Explanatory Dictionary of the Russian Language]. 4th ed. Moscow (in Russ.).

Perekhvalskaya, E., 2016. Etnolingvistika [Ethnolinguistics]. Moscow (in Russ.).

Salifu, N. A., 2010. Signaling politeness, power and solidarity through terms of address in Dagbanli. Nordic Journal of African Studies, 19, pp. 274—292, https://doi. org/10.53228/njas.v19i4.198.

Shilikhina, K. M. and Tkach, I. A., 2020. The Russian discourse marker “to bish” (“that is”): early pragmaticalizaion and modern usage. Proceedings of Voronezh State University. Series: Linguistics and Intercultural Communication, 3, pp. 54—62, https:// (in Russ.).

Sulimova, T. S., 2019. From Adverb to Pragmatic Marker: Stages of the Pragmati­cization of the Unit Purely in Russian Oral Speech (corpus research). In: L. V. Ukho­va, ed. Russkaya grammatika: aktivnye protsessy v yazyke i rechi: sbornik nauchnykh trudov Me­zhdunarodnogo nauchnogo simpoziuma [Russian Grammar: Active Processes in Lan­guage and Speech: Proceedings of the International Scientific Symposium]. Yaroslavl, pp. 448—455 (in Russ.).

Ushakov, D. N., ed., 1940. Tolkovyi slovar' russkogo yazyka: V 4-kh t. [Explanatory Dictionary of the Russian Language: In 4 volumes]. Vol. 4. Moscow (in Russ.).

Vinogradova, E. N., 2023. Grammaticalization, lexicalization, and pragmaticaliza­tion: Russian constructions with the preposition PO. Voprosy Jazykoznanija [Topics in the study of language], 1, pp. 54—87, (in Russ.).

Xiaoli, S., 2022. The Word Samyj in the Light of Active Processes of Russian Speech (Grammaticalization, Idiomatization and Pragmaticalization). Russkaya Rech’ [Russian Speech], 2, pp. 7—23, (in Russ.).