Correlation Of Cognitive, Linguoculturological And Pragmatic Approaches To Analysis Of Professional Lexis


The article views peculiarities of the three approaches to the study of professional lexis that are relevant for modern linguistics and science of terminology. The authors show the possibilities and advantages of each of them in understanding the named object. The cognitive approach to the terms and systems of terms reveals objectively existing relations and relations between everyday and abstract-logical knowledge, between naive and scientific views of the world. The linguoculturological approach focuses at professional units formed by the lexical-semantic method, since their creation and functioning presuppose laws of selection and rethinking of the lexisaccording to the ideas and stereotypes established in the national culture. Particular attention in the article is paid to the pragmatic approach as less implemented in modern conditions, but very promising for understanding the content and functioning of special lexis. This approach clarifies the link between terms, professionalisms and professional jargon units and the status of speakers, goals and conditions of communication. The analyzed approaches have a mutual bond, they are not opposed but complementary in the study of professional lexis. The cognitive approach profiles the content aspect – the connection with special knowledge gained in the process of professional activity. The linguoculturological approach allows to identify the idioethnic component in special names, to establish the causes and factors of the choice of a primary language material for creating professional units. The pragmatic approach to the analysis of the lexical composition of special sub-languages reveals the role of each lexis category in the communication process.

Keywords: Termprofessionalismprofessional jargoncognitive approachlinguoculturological approachpragmatic approach


Modern research in the field of linguistics and science of terminology is characterized by the use of different methodological approaches in the study of lexical units. The most promisingin the study of professional lexis and phraseology are cognitive, linguoculturological and pragmatic approaches. Each of them allows to obtain significant scientific results, to reveal the specifics of these units, to find out their place in various spheres of professional communication. These approaches are not opposed to each other and, moreover, can be considered as complementary.

Problem Statement

The article makes an attempt to find out the relationship between the cognitive, linguoculturological and pragmatic approaches to the analysis of professional lexis.

Professional, or special lexis includes words and word combinations (including phraseological ones) that serve as names of objects, processes and phenomena in the field of professional communication. There are three main categories of these units: terms, professionalisms and professional jargonunits (Golovanova, 2008b).Terms have a codified character, are an exact designation of professional objects, their structure usually reflects the logical relationship within the system of concepts, they are mainly used in written texts, but some of them are actively used in oral communication. Professionalisms arise and operate in specialists'practical activity, their content reflects the characteristics of professional objects important for direct interaction of people in the course of solving everyday professional problems. Professional jargon is a class of special units, which is opposed to terms and professionalisms. Unlike the latter, professional jargon units do not indicate professionally significant objects and phenomena, do not show their place in the classification. The main function of professional jargon units is to convey the attitude to certain professional objects that has developed in certain socio-professional environment. In other words, professional jargon units most clearly manifest value attitudes of people engaged in professional activity.

The common featureof the three categories of special lexis (terms, professionalisms, professional jargon units) is their secondary, derivative character: the basis for the formation of a professional unit of any type is the natural language, its lexical system and a complex of word-forming means.

Research Questions

The study aims at revealing the essence of the cognitive approach to the analysis of professional lexis, the possibilities of using the linguoculturological approach and the peculiarities of the pragmatic approach to the study of professional lexis.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to show the peculiarities and advantages of each approach in the study of the named object.

Research Methods

The article uses general scientific methods of analysis, synthesis, generalization and systematization, as well as inductive-deductive method and method of linguistic description.


The essence of the cognitive approach to the study of professional lexis.

The cognitive approach is currently most relevant in the Russian linguistics and science of terminology (Leychik, 2007; Komarova, 2014)within the cognitive-communicative paradigm that implements the four most important principles in the analysis of linguistic facts: anthropocentrism, neofunctionalism, expansionism and explanatory character (Kubryakova, 1995).

In the framework of the cognitive approach to the study of special lexis attention is paid to the correlation of linguistic units and units of professional (theoretical and practical) knowledge that are behind them, including issues of formation of the mentioned knowledge and its transferby linguistic means.

Fundamentally important in the study of terms from the cognitive stance are the following points:

  • Deep understanding of the connection of the term and the concept through the use of cognitive tools ("concept", "conceptual structures", "formats of knowledge", etc.).

  • Recognition of the paramount importance of cognitive functions of the term, among which orientation function is the main one.

  • Consideration of the term as a dynamic entity, and the definition attributed to it is relative rather than absolute.

  • Understanding of the term as a language unit, which is a result of interaction of professional cognition and professional communication.

  • Refusal of solely gnoseological (epistemological) interpretations of the term, recognition of its realization of not only scientific (theoretical) knowledge, but also "shimmering" ordinary and practical professional knowledge.

The cognitive approach allows terminologists to go beyond strictly structured system of concepts and to reveal objectively existing connections and relations between ordinary and abstract-logical knowledge, between naive and scientific views of the world. Terms and systems of terms are studied taking into account their role in professional cognition and professional activity of a human being, their functions according to the type of knowledge they contain and the sphere of communication.

The cognitive approach to the analysis of terms and other special units is diverse in our studies (Golovanova, 2008a; 2013; 2014a,b; 2017b), and therefore we will not dwell on it in more detail in this article.

The peculiarities of the linguoculturological approach to the analysis of professional lexis.

Within the linguoculturological approach the most interesting for the study are the professional units formed by the lexical-semantic method: in their creation and functioning regularities of the selection and rethinking of the lexis in accordance with the ideas and stereotypes established in the national culture are manifested.

The analysis carried out by one of the authors of this article (Golovanov, 2017a) shows that in the range of the Russian professional designations formed by lexical-semantic method on the basis of kinship terms, the most popular are the designations of blood relatives (and primarily mother and father), other names –by feature, non-blood kinship – are less involved. Such designations as муж, жена, зять, сестра are almost not used in the field of professional nomination(with rare exceptions).

In accordance with the anthropocentric principle of knowledge organization the relevant fragments of the conceptual view of the world include ideas about life and death, about dead and alive. The results of our analysis of the appropriate adjectives in the composition of special sub-languages (Golovanova, Golovanov, 2017) demonstrated the peculiarities and patterns of ethno-cultural perception and interpretation of professional objects in the Russian consciousness.Thus, it is found that the lexeme "мертвый" ("dead")and the mental structures behind it are more popular in the professional environment compared to the relative units. In Russian terminology and professional substandard (professionalisms and professional jargon units) a set of relevant meanings is implemented with the help of this lexeme: 1) devoid of life (activity, movement, change): мертвый сезон, мертвый угол, мертвый язык, мертвая картинка ; 2) fruitless, unproductive: мертвый ход, мертвая зона, мертвый капитал ; 3) fixed (the highest degree of manifestation of the sign): мертвый узел, мертвая точка, мертвый якорь, мертвая хватка, мертвый штиль ; 4) associated with death, dangerous for life: мертвый воздух, мертвая петля ; 5) devoid of any significant properties: мертвый мяч, мертвые души , etc.

The examples show that professional units of phraseological natureare of special interest in linguoculturological respect. In most cases, special knowledge expressed in them is superimposed on the already known, which is the result of everyday cognition (for details, see: (Golovanova, 2011).

Realization of the pragmatic approach to the study of professional lexis.

The pragmatic approach to the study of special lexis clarifies the relationship of its functioning with the peculiarities of professional communication, with the status of the subjects using it.

Special units common to the language of workers are of significant interest. Workers' practical mind, savvy, rationality are manifested in the accuracy of nomination which is created by clear internal form of words. Example: двухванка, вывода, непропаи . The first word serves as a brief designation of a twin-bath melting furnace, the most important information concerning the type of melting furnace is fixed in the structure of professionalism. The professionalisms вывода and непропаи recorded in the speech of the workers of the electronic factory, have a clear internal form. The word вывода means 'the ends of the parts on the radio board’, it is formed from the common выводить 'remove beyond something' and correlates with the term провод , forming a single word-formative nest with the designations given. The professionalism of непропаи representing the result of a truncated derivation (from the verb пропаивать combined with the negative particle не ), clearly explicates professional informationthat is behind it: 'undersoldered details of the radio (after mechanical soldering operations)'.

Semantic "transparency" is also typical for professional phraseological units (especially procedural ones). So, for example, designations of two operations in electronic manufacturing – рубить провода and фольга не прошла – are formed on the basis of verbs of concrete physical actions that are among the most productive in the Russian language (along with бить, варить, ставить, класть ).

Most of the professionalisms recorded in the working environment demonstrate the nominees' preference of the dynamism of communication and simplicity of designation. This is manifested primarily in the economy and stereotyped character of the designations. Thebrightestexampleisformationofuniverbaldesignationswiththesuffix -к- onthebasisofwordcombinations: контролька (voltage measuring unit), малярка (house painting), монтажка (installation/assembly work), первичка (raw material primary processing workshop), продленка (extended day), пружинка (spring workshop), птичка (workshop for poultry processing at the factory), нержавейка (stainless steel; stainless steel products), нутровка (surgery to remove the entrails of animals), переноска (portable technical device), etc. Cases of reduction of the form of professionalism (in comparison with the term) reflected in designations are of special interest: кондер –condenser, усилок – sound amplifier. Numerous examples of meaning compression in oral professional nomination through the creation of single-rooted words ( коротить 'to create a short circuit, spark') or compound names ( легкотрудник 'worker who "easy work" for health reasons; стружкотер 'device that withdraws sawdust at the saw mill').

Quite remarkable are expressive designations used in workers' communication: мелюзга (small nails), мусор (TV and radio noise), ставлюга (stand for the car during the repair).The expressiveness of oral professional speech can also be based on the use of metaphoric and metonymic names. Here are the examples of the first kind: волна (the moment of action of molten solder to process the assembled radio board), кишка (portable extension), кишки (the inside elements of the appliance), крышка (needle plate in the sewing machine), линия (conveyor), пистолет (apparatus for supplying heated air), юбка (part of the enginepiston). Metonymic designations-professionalisms: земля (grounding wire), ливер (surgery to remove the internal organs at the meat processing plant), лоскут (warehouse for remnants of fabric at a garment factory), мотор (area of engine repair in the auto repair enterprise), упаковка (packing department).

The analysis shows that there are two main requirements to the designation in the working environment: language economy and rationalization of meaning. This makes it possible to talk about very pragmatic characteristics of the worker's personality. The worker has no romantic-idealistic attitude to professional objects, their assessment depends on the role in the technological process and the attitude of the worker to the production situation on the whole. Recognizing the technical complexity of certain mechanisms the worker sees them as the work of specific hands and mind of the master. Many professionalisms comprise the pride of a working man: he performs tasks that require much concentration, overcomes the resistance of the "material", is able to understand the most complex devices and mechanisms, to subordinate them to his will. Tangible imagery, motivation of professional names, expression of emotional evaluation (see: (Shakhovsky, 2018)about the significance of the emotional component in the structure of linguistic personality) combined with the content diffusion and plasticity of the semantic structure express the desire of workers for relative linguistic freedom.

From a pragmatic standpoint, some universal characteristics of professional reality presented in special names are of great interest. For example, action understanding professionally important objects and phenomena is important for any specialist. The typical state of the objects that surround the professional, and his own state – vitality, movement. Everything that does not conform to this appears highlighted. Markers of static character are explicit, for example, in such units as тормозок – food brought with you to work (at mines, railway companies, etc.), зажим – limiting the actor's activity, obstacle (at theatre).

Special sub-languages have whole rows of single-root words with the common feature of "lack of movement, fixed position, static character". Let's analyse the example of professional designations with the root of глух- : глухоеокно (non-opening fixed window, without the possibility of access of air), глушить (in volleyball – to hit the ball without the possibility of retaliatory strike), глухарь – an unsolved criminal case (lack of actions in the investigation is underlined here), also compare: глухаякража,мокрыйглухарь.

A similar feature is expressed by the professionalisms and professional jargon units with the root вис- : висяк – unsolved crime ("висит", i.e. not moving); повиснуть –about drivers:do not rise because of icy terrain, to slip; зависнутьнатрубе –about the patient who is onthe apparatus of artificial ventilation for a long period of time ("Петровнеделюнатрубевисит", i.e. he is in one position, with no changes). Compare in the speech of accountants: висятостатки – listed in the account ("Остаткивисятужеполгода"); about the computer: завис – frozen without movement (no functioning), висяк – a program that causes computer'smalfunctioning.

In various fields of activity readiness of the professional object to function is very important: больнойвагон – inoperative in a technical respect; несвежийсветофор – "impassable" for a truck (time for travel is not sufficient); убитыйшрифт – indistinguishable; убитьпоезд – to break schedule of the train; глаззамылился (attention required to check written work is weakened). Also compare: штопатьпуть – to tamp sleepers (the idea of the violated integrity of something), штопатьбочку – to weld holes (make usable), штопать – med. to stitch (return functionality).


This article makes an attempt to compare the three relevant approaches to the analysis of professional lexis – cognitive, linguoculturological and pragmatic. It shows that there are no fundamental differences between them. On the contrary, each approach somehow discovers interrelations with the other approaches, relies on the findings of the researches done within their framework. The greatest attention is paid to the pragmatic approach as it is underdeveloped in terminological studies.

The analysis shows that professional lexis is a multifaceted object of the research. Within the cognitive approach it profiles the content side – the connection with special knowledge gained in the process of professional activity. The linguoculturological approach allows to identify the idioethnic component in special names, promotes the establishment of the causes and factors of the choice of a primary language material for the creation of professional units. The pragmatic approach to the study of the lexical composition of special sub-languages reveals the role of each lexis category in the communication process, determines the relationship of its content with the status of the speaker, the goals and conditions of communication.


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30 April 2018

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

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Golovanova, E. I., & Golovanov, I. A. (2018). Correlation Of Cognitive, Linguoculturological And Pragmatic Approaches To Analysis Of Professional Lexis. In & I. V. Denisova (Ed.), Word, Utterance, Text: Cognitive, Pragmatic and Cultural Aspects, vol 39. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 518-524). Future Academy.