Some Features of the Use of the Word Poslednij (‘Last’) in the Russian Language of the 18th–19th Centuries

2022. № 6, 71-80

Evgenij A. Balashov, Vinogradov Russian Language Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Russia, Moscow),


The article focuses on the use of the word poslednij (last, latest, least) in the Russian language of the 18th–19th centuries in combinations that do not seem typical for the modern native speakers, i. e., such as do poslednej vozmozhnosti (to the utmost, the last opportunity), do poslednikh granits (till the last breath, lit. to the last borders) and the like. The main assumption is that the analysis of non-trivial contexts can lead us to a better description of not only the combinatorial potential of the word but also its semantics for a modern Russian native speaker. So, as exemplified in the collected material, it can be seen that the word poslednij also used to have the intensifying function without any negative connotations, as, e.g., in combinations poslednee delo (the least [worst] thing). It is suggested that the negative connotation of the word poslednij which appeared and became more and more evident over time could motivate its replacement with the quasi-synonymous word krajnij (extreme, utter): poslednie mery (last measures) → krajnie mery (extreme measures), poslednij srok (deadline, lit. the last date) → krajnij srok (deadline, lit. the extreme date). The article uses data of the Russian National Corpus as the material, and pays special attention to the texts of F. M. Dostoevsky, which is motivated by the research interests of the author. Dostoevsky often uses the word poslednij in combinations v/do krajnej stepeni X-a (to the last degree of X), which allows the author to focus the reader's attention on the characters’ feelings.

For citation:

Balashov E. A. Some Features of the Use of the Word Poslednij (‘Last’) in the Russian Language of the 18th–19th Centuries. Russian Speech = Russkaya Rech’. 2022. No. 6. Pp. 71–80.