Semantic-Derivational Potential and Lexical Compatibility of Names of Prototypical Plants in Serbian Culture – Wheat and Corn

Folkloristics 7/1 (2022): 91-109
Author: Gordana Štasni

Wheat and corn cereals have a significant role in human life, and they also have the status of prototype plants in Serbian culture, as shown by the results of a survey. However, majority of Serbian speakers identify wheat as the most important plant, followed by corn. This research shows that the names of prototypical plants have some similarities, but also differences on the semantic and derivation level.

Both lexemes have the status of botanical terms, as well as lexemes of the general lexical fund. The lexeme corn has a richer semantic-derivational potential, which can be concluded based on the content of its nest. Namely, the nest with motivate word wheat has 7 derivatives, one adjective (pšenični) and 6 nouns (pšeničnik, pšeničnjak, pšeničica, pšena, pšeno, pšeničište), which belong to domain plants, space and food according to their lexical meaning. Motive word and derivatives are connected by metonymy transformation. The motive word corn has 20 derivatives: 4 adjectives (kukuruzni, kukuružnji, kukuruzov, kukuruzovni) and 16 nouns (kukuruščić, kukuruzište, kukuruzovište, kukuruzana, kukuruzanica, kukuruzina, kukuruzača, kukuružnjača, kukuruzovnica, kukuružnjak, kukuruznica, kukuruzara, kukuruzinje, kukuruzovina, kukuruzinac, kukuruzar). Some derivatives from both observed nests belong to the same conceptual domains of plants and parts of plants, open space, food, which is an expected fact, but the lexeme corn gives derivatives from the domain of drink, closed space and man.

A similar situation is on the plan of lexical compound. So, lexemes wheat and corn have appeared in the identical syntagmatic structures (Adj + N, N + Ngen, V + Nacc), provided that the lexeme corn represented as optional in the syntagm type N1 + N2 (kukuruz zelenjak / jalovak). Registrateded syntagmas have a different status in the lexicon of the Serbian language. Some of them are terms: Adj + N (bela pšenica, jara pšenica, ozima pšenica; brzorodan kukukruz, jednodom / jednodoman kukukruz; N + Ngen sorta pšenice / kukuruza; N1 + N2 kukuruz mlečnjak), but others have the function of description: Adj + N (zelena pšenica, zrela/uzrela/prezrela pšenica, rodna pšenica, čista pšenica, smrzla pšenica, kuvana pšenica; mršavi kukuruzi, bujni kukuruz, obrani kukuruz). With the syntagmas with verb component are formalized the same conceptual values, an action performed over the land where the plant is grown (poorati kukuruz) or on the yield (guliti kukuruz, samleti pšenicu / kukuruz, skuvati kukuruz). The nouns wheat or corn in the genitive are combined with paranumeric quantifiers, particularizers (rukovet pšenice, snop kukuruza). These constructions also can have possessive meaning (zrna kukuruza, klas pšenice). Both lexemes do not play a significant role in the formation of phraseology units.

Keywords: prototypical plants, derivatives, conceptual domains, lexical compound, Serbian language, Serbian culture