The Concept “Money” In The French Linguistic World Image


The article analyzes such an important notion of cognitive linguistics as a concept. The article is aimed at identifying specific functioning of the concept “money” in the French linguistic world image as exemplified in phraseological locutions. The study made it possible to identify the core of the concept under consideration, as well as its additional conceptual properties and periphery. The core of the concept includes such connotations as a way to solve problems and trust. The revealed additional conceptual properties are represented by connotations with value (positive or negative), negative qualities of a person, power, an old-time small coin sou as an insignificant part of something. The periphery includes conceptual properties - connotations with the merits of a person and connotation of a small coin sou with a basis for the future capital. It can be concluded that modern French society, brought up in a market economy, perceives the concept “money” both positively and negatively, depending on the situation and on what the money serves for.

Keywords: Conceptconceptual propertiesconceptual layerscore of the conceptconcept peripherylinguistic world image


The present article is aimed to study the concept “money” in the French linguistic world image (as exemplified in phraseological locutions). Kravtsov (Kravtsov, 2014, p.7) affirms that «the interest in studying of a language picture of the world is explained by the fact that the majority of phraseological units thanks to the figurativeness based on semantic two-planned character (combination of relevant and initial meanings) reflects history, culture, life, social and economic lifestyle, a mentality of the people, feature of its language»


According to Kolokolova (Kolokolova, 2014) «concepts make information basis of a picture of the world, playing a paramount role in formation of fund of knowledge of the individual and information transfer» Topicality of this study is determined by a growing interest in linguistics to the problems of subjectivity of human perception of the surrounding world and by the fact that «through concepts ("consciousness stereotypes") cogitative activity of the person is carried out» (2014, p.121). This problem can be solved through a deeper study of various concepts, in particular, of the concept “money”, which is becoming more relevant considering the development of trade relations and market economy.

Subject, focus, material

The study subject is the concept “money” which represents a fragment of the linguistic world image of a person in the contemporary French.

The study focuses on the content and peculiarities of functioning of the concept “"money” objectified in the contemporary French.

Phraseological locutions of the contemporary French language containing the concept “money” were used as the study material, they were selected with the help of a special sample from the phraseological dictionaries. Since the concept “money” is represented not only by the word “argent” itself, phraseological locutions which include such words as “marché / à bon marché / argent / sou / mannaie / payer / payeur / écu / crédit / fortune” were selected too because they all represent the concept of “money”.

Problem Statement

One of the main terms of cognitive linguistics is the term “concept”. Such its characteristics as reflection of a nationally labeled image of culture and national characteristics of a native speaker, presence of linguocultural content, ability to form a linguistic world picture are significant for the present study.

Several approaches to determining the structure of a concept exist. We draw upon the works which described the structure of a concept in the form of circles equally spaced from the center, the core is in the center, and its periphery is located on the sides. The core of the concept is constituted by primary bright images, and its periphery, by less expressed conceptual properties. Fisenko determinates concept like a «multiple-factor mental unit, in which closely bound substantial and estimated components» (Fisenko, 2015, p.205).

Research Questions

We fully agree with S.M. Kravtsov who says that «the interest in phraseology is based on the fact that its use in the course of communication does the speech brighter, expressive, individual that promotes substantial increase of its culture» (Kravtsov, 2014, p.7). In total, we found and analyzed 35 phraseological locutions representing the concept “money”. Then, using a classification method, the phraseological locutions were divided into the following macro groups: phraseological locutions with a positive connotation; phraseological locutions with a negative connotation; phraseological locutions with no certain connotation - neither positive, nor negative. Then, conceptual properties were identified within the selected groups of phraseological locutions. Afterwards, the collected material was analyzed by means of quantitative data processing, and a share of each conceptual property was calculated in order to determine the core of the concept, its periphery and conceptual layers. Thus, a conceptual analysis of phraseological locutions in the French language was conducted.

Purpose of the Study

We agree with V.A. Maslova who says that «the culture instills in the person a certain set of values in which originality the originality of culture consists» (Maslova, 2015, p.25). Before getting down to the study, the following goals were set:

Goal 1

To identify conceptual properties of French phraseological locutions containing the concept “money”

Goal 2

To elaborate a structure of the concept "money" based on French phraseological locutions.

  • To identify the core, the periphery, and additional conceptual properties of the concept under consideration;

  • To compare occurrence of conceptual properties with a positive and negative connotation.

Research Methods

During the research, we used both general scientific methods (a method of classification when working with collected practical material, a descriptive-analytical method when analyzing various points of view on the problem of defining the notions “concept”, “linguistic world image” and “phraseological locution”), and linguistic methods themselves, such as a method of lexical thematic groups when working with collected material; a method of conceptual analysis; methods of quantitative data processing of the collected linguistic material.


Thus, as a result of the study, 15 phraseological locutions with negative connotations were found out, among which we identified the following conceptual properties:

  • money in connotation with negative qualities of a person ( homme d'argent - a greedy, selfish person; fichu comme quatre sous - tastelessly, slovenly dressed, etc.);

  • sou as a small, insignificant part of something ( ça ne vaut pas un sou - it is not worth a penny; ne pas avoir de qch pour deux sous - to be completely deprived of any quality, etc.);

  • money in connotation with power ( être grand seigneur à bon marché - to make a display of cheap generosity, monnaie fait tout - everything in the world is sold and bought, etc.).

Among the phraseological locutions with a positive connotation (14 examples), the following conceptual properties were determined:

  • money in connotation with trust ( faire / accorder du crédit à qn - to give credence / to place faith in somebody; il faut porter cela à son crédit - it speaks in his favour, etc.);

  • sous as a basis for the future capital ( amasser sa fortune sou par sou - to save up one's capital scraping and saving; un sou est un sou - take care of the kopecks, and the roubles will take care of themselves, etc.).

The group of phraseological locutions with a neutral connotation includes 6 examples, among which the following conceptual properties were singled out:

  • money in connotation with the merits of a person ( en avoir pour son argent - to get quid's worth, etc.).

We would like to point out that some conceptual properties turned out to be common for phraseological locutions with negative, positive and neutral connotations. Thus, depending on the situation, these conceptual properties can be perceived either positively, negatively, or neutrally. In particular, these are the following properties:

  • payer (to pay) as a way to solve problems. The following phraseological locutions can be cited as examples of phrases with a positive connotation: s'en tirer (en être quitte) à bon marché - to get off cheap, to escape with slight shock; s'en payer une tranche - to have fun, to have a good time. The following phraseological locution with a negative connotation was found having these conceptual properties: les conseilleurs ne sont pas les payeurs - advisers do not bear responsibility. And, finally, the phraseological locutions with a neutral connotation (only 3 examples) are: il ne se paye pas de chansons - you cannot get rid of him using only words; payer en beaux discours (de belles paroles) - to palm somebody off with promises, to pull the wool over one's eyes; payer de retour - to return favor to somebody;

  • money as a value. This conceptual property is found only in phraseological locutions with a positive or negative connotation. It seems logical to us, because money in this case is valued as something very important ( le temps c'est de l'argent - time is money; les vieux amis et les vieux écus sont les meilleurs - an old friend is better than new ones; l'argent n'a pas d'odeur - money is money), or as something secondary, completely unimportant ( la plaie d'argent n'est pas mortelle - money come with time, faire bon marché de qch - to hold cheap, to take for granted.


The study confirmed the assertion of S.G. Vorkachev who says that «the linguocultural concept acts as a synthesis of mental and verbal formation in which aspects subject domains of the main disciplines filling this concept are reflected» (Vorkachev, 2016, p.20). Thus, based on the results of the study, we can conclude that it is difficult to identify the core of the concept “money” in the French linguistic world image, since several conceptual properties are expressed almost equally. So, phraseological locutions with conceptual properties “money in connotation with trust” and “payer (to pay) as a way to solve problems” accounted for 17% each of the total number of the phraseological locutions.

The conceptual property of “money as value” (15%) is located in the immediate vicinity of the core of the concept under consideration, and, as it is mentioned above, the value of money can be perceived as positive or negative, depending on the meaning of a fixed expression. Additional conceptual layers are represented by the following conceptual properties (11% each): “money in connotation with negative qualities”, “ sou as a small, insignificant part of something”, “money in connotation with power”. And, finally, such properties as “ sou as a basis for the future capital”, “money in connotation with the merits of a person” (9% each) are on the periphery of the concept under consideration.

Phraseological locutions with a positive and negative connotation turned out to be almost equally represented (14 and 15 locutions respectively), phraseological locutions with a neutral connotation are represented by a smaller number of fixed expressions, there are 6 examples. Such data confirm dependence of the French society on material well-being, aimed at a market economy. This fact can be perceived positively or negatively.

The analysis proves that the concept has a complex structure, consisting of a core, additional conceptual properties and periphery. Representatives of the French linguistic culture community perceive the concept “money” positively and negatively. The ability to inspire trust and to serve as a basis for the future material well-being is positively assessed. The impact of money on people, such qualities as avarice, greed, corruption are negatively assessed. We found out that the conceptual property “value” is represented by more negative connotations than positive ones. Hence, despite the fact that the French society has been living in a market economy for a long time, the value of money and material wealth is not paramount. Based on the above mentioned research results, the main function of money is to provide confidence to others and a way to solve problems.


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30 April 2018

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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, translation, interpretation

Cite this article as:

Shapovalova, E. O. (2018). The Concept “Money” In The French Linguistic World Image. In & I. V. Denisova (Ed.), Word, Utterance, Text: Cognitive, Pragmatic and Cultural Aspects, vol 39. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 426-431). Future Academy.