Expressing love in English and Russian: common and language-specific features

Marika Kalyuga, Antonina Harbus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper documents cross-cultural similarities and variations in meaning shifts and polysemy extensions of the English noun love, the cognate verb to love, and their Russian equivalents throughout the period between the eleventh century and the present day. In both languages the words love and to love also refer, beside the central contemporary connotations around 'strong affection', to other emotions and feelings, in addition to behavioural responses associated with love. Regardless of some differences, the English love and to love, and the Russian ljubov' and ljubit', generally signify similar emotions, feelings, and behavioural responses, because similar factors influenced their range. The study illustrates how polysemy and meaning shifts can be a source of the understanding of the way the idea 'love' is conceptualized and expressed in different languages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-108
Number of pages14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • diachronic semantics
  • semantic change
  • polysemy
  • Russian
  • English
  • love


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