UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

A lexical analysis of Nikolaj Leskov’s prose Huckriede, Wera Litwinzeff


The language in which Nikolaj S. Leskov wrote his prose is extremely complex. The writer's lexical material in particular is perceived "by the reader as strikingly original and not entirely conforming to the literary standards prevalent in Leskov's time. The aim of the present study is to identify and categorize lexical items in Leskov's vocabulary that have not been established in the Russian language other than in Leskov's usage. The discussion concentrates primarily on lexical innovations excerpted from Leskov's works. In order to give the reader a complete view of the intricate qualities of Leskov's language, some attention is devoted to the writer's use of stylistic devices. Included in the illustrative material are lexical items that, although not invented by Leskov, are nevertheless indicative of the writer's originality in utilizing the resources of the Russian lexicon. Chapter I serves to introduce Leskov to the reader. Linguistic creativity is shown to be an organic part of Leskov's life. The distinctive qualities of his language are viewed against the background of the literary atmosphere of his time. In chapter II the most important stylistic levels of Leskov's vocabulary are discussed. Lexical items from different stylistic strata illustrate the basic principle underlying Leskov's vocabulary selection. Chapters III and IV are devoted to a detailed analysis of neologisms that occur in Leskov's works. The cited material is analyzed from the viewpoint of morphological structure. The investigation of the methods with which Leskov formed new words confirms the reader's intuition that the writer has adhered closely to the norms for derivation in the Russian language. The neologisms listed in chapter IV are discussed from the viewpoint of meaning. It is demonstrated that Leskov intentionally used semasiological devices in order to produce a comic effect upon the reader. The lexical items that belong to this category are shown to be essential means of expression for Leskov's intended narrative purposes. Chapter V deals with foreign lexical elements in Leskov's usage. It is indicated that Leskov was in principle opposed to the introduction of words from foreign languages into the Russian lexicon. His disapproval of lexical borrowings is reflected in the numerous distortions of foreign words that appear in his vocabulary. It is also illustrated in this chapter that Leskov made use of morphemes from languages other than Russian to form invented words. The cited examples point to the conclusion that the material upon which Leskov drew to enrich his vocabulary comes from a variety of sources. The neologisms that are investigated in the present study were created by Leskov in a conscious effort to make the speech of the characters who appear in his stories as vivid as possible.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.