“The Light Is Clear, Purpureal ...” (G. Derzhavin)

2021. № 2, 63-71

Anastasiia S. Kotelnikova, The Institute for Linguistic Studies (Russian Academy of Sciences) (Russia, Saint-Petersburg), asya.kotelnikova@gmail.com


The article analyzes the use of words purpurniy and purpuroviy in the Russian language of the early 18th century. The word purpuroviy first appeared in fiction and non-fiction texts translated from foreign languages. Since the middle of that century, the adjective made an appearance in original Russian scientific and non-fiction texts, for example, in works on optics and color spectrum, descriptions of chemical experiments, botanical and geographical studies, and travelers’ notes. In the last third of the 18th century, purpuroviy gained widespread use and unlimited compatibility. It was used in descriptions of minerals, plants and animals, of fashionable garments and accessories. Derived words appeared on the basis of the root purpur-, indicating the degree of colour intensity: purpurovat (crimsonish) or shades of mixed colors like purpurovo-aliy (crimsonish-scarlet) or purpurovo-rozoviy (crimsonish-pink) etc. In the first half of the 18th century, purpuroviy meant a bright red or deep red colour. Interpretations of the 18th century dictionaries define it as one of the shades of red, like crimson, purpureal or dark-red. From the second half of the century, purpuroviy sometimes indicated a shade of purple. At the end of the century, purpurniy appeared mainly as a word of poetic language. Both adjectives and their meanings, appearing in the 18th century survived and are still used in modern Russian.

For citation:

Kotelnikova A. S. “The Light Is Clear, Purpureal...” (G. Derzhavin). Russian Speech = Russkaya Rech’. 2021. No. 2. Pp. 63–71. DOI: 10.31857/S013161170014710-0.