Basic Concepts Of The Linguistic World Picture Of French Rock Artists


The article considers modern tendencies of the linguistic picture of world studies, and it also presents the notion of concept and conceptual sphere. The linguistic world picture along with nominative language means (lexical items, phraseological units) and with functional ones (selecting lexical items and phraseological items for communication) is created by metaphorical language means. The sphere of concepts should be studied in relation to national culture. The linguistic world picture actualizes information about reality, trends of the modern community, the peculiarities of the linguistic culture, and characteristics of national mentality perceived by a person and fixed with the help of the language. Apart from that, this article delivers a conceptual analysis of the French linguistic picture of the world based on the lyrics of modern rock artists, defines the main concepts of this linguistic picture of the world and its ethical metaphorical peculiarities. For example, because of the fact that French-speaking rock artists extensively use life descriptions in their lyrics, we may assume that they are eager to get closer to their audience with the help of common daily topics which everyone faces almost every day. Thus, the concept “life” is found to be the most frequent in the studied texts, while the concept “world” is on the second place depicting environment and mostly consisting of nature metaphors to describe different states of mind and feelings. Expressive lexical means and emotional component demonstrate relations between the author and the environment, this way creating unique national linguistic world pictures.

Keywords: Artistic picture of the worldlinguistic world pictureconceptconcept-frame


Studying linguistic pictures of the world is currently an up-to-date subject of research, it is reflected in the works of the following scholars: Y.A. Apresyan, M.P. Odintsova, Z.D. Popova, T.R. Radbil, I.A. Sternin, S.G. Ter-Minasova, T.V. Tsivyan, E.S. Yakovleva, and others.

In modern linguistics it is possible to examine the linguistic world picture with relation to the characteristics of a knower – an individual or a collective one. Thus, the concept of the linguistic world picture can be represented both in a narrow perspective and in a wide one: in the narrow aspect it is an individual linguistic world picture, while in the wider aspect it is a collective picture of the world (Dzyuba, 2015, p. 6).

Trying to understand the way how an individual interprets the world and his/her own self in it, linguists study the linguistic world picture from different points of view, defining the linguistic picture of the world as a total of world images captured in the vocabulary, phraseology, grammar, and formed in the conscious of a specific speech community (Kolokolova, 2014, p. 123).

Z.D. Popova and I.A. Sternin state that the linguistic world picture along with nominative language means (lexical items, phraseological units) and with functional ones (selecting lexical items and phraseological items for communication) is also created by metaphorical language means – namely by nationally specific imagery and methaphorics (Fisenko, 2015, 205).

B.A. Serebryannikov notes that “the problem of the linguistic world picture is closely connected to the problem of the metaphor as it is one of the ways of its creation” (Ngaput, 2007, p. 181). The world which is reflected through the prism of the mechanism of secondary sensations, depicted in metaphors and comparisons, is the principle factor which defines the universality and specificity of any particular national linguistic world picture.

The works of Y.D. Apresyan greatly contributed to the research of the linguistic world picture. The scholar defines the linguistic picture of the world as follows: “Linguistic world picture is a worldview which consists of “generally accepted words”, and which reflects “the introspection experience of dozens of generations” (Pesina, 2013, p. 152).

Problem Statement

The research of the linguistic world picture through examining song lyrics is of a great interest to the scholars because songs are capable of actualizing the information about the reality, the trends of the modern community, the peculiarities of the linguistic culture, and the characteristics of the national mentality perceived by a person and fixed with the help of the language.

The lyrics especially in rock songs have a considerable influence on the listeners. The emotional component of the songs is a way to reach balance with the environment and it directly reflects the relation of the authors to the events going on around. Writing lyrics in the rock genre the songwriters feel free and that is why they lavishly use expressive lexical units, therefore inducing their audience to believe in the rightness of their opinion.

Research Questions

The linguistic world picture is a comprehensive understanding of a specific reality and of its subjects’ places in it perceived by an individual. This notion can be compared to a puzzle in which there are bigger pieces – spheres of concepts - which include smaller pieces – concepts.

The spheres of concepts can be presented as frames which are defined as “nomenclature schemes which are varieties of semantic fields like concepts” (Bloch, 2010, p. 38). Working on our research we relied on the structure of concept-frames introduced by M. Minsky. The scholar defined a frame as “data structures for presenting a stereotypic situation” (Minsky, 1979, p.152). According to the frame system theory, a frame consists of a name and separate units which are called slots that can also be frame names. The number of slots depends on the number of elements that are pointed out by scholars while studying a particular situation. Thus, a frame is a knowledge structure simulating associative notional relations of a basic concept and containing typical, general, and potentially possible information.

D.S. Likhachev claimed that it is necessary to study the sphere of concepts in relation to the national culture: “The richer the sphere of concepts of a national language is, the richer the whole national culture is, including its literature, folklore, science, art (it is also related to the language and, therefore, to the national sphere of concepts), the sphere of concepts correlates with the entire historical experience of the nation” (Baynazarova & Samsitova, 2014, p. 1373).

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of our study is to identify the principle concepts of the linguistic world picture in the songs of francophone rock artists.

Research Methods

With the help of contextual analysis we have pointed out the basic concepts of the linguistic picture of the world, and using the method of statistical analysis we have defined the principle concepts and their percentage in the lyrics. Finally, relying on the conceptual analysis we have identified the main component of the studied linguistic world picture with the help of a keyword method – the concept “life”.


In the process of the lyrics analysis of rock songs we have pointed out the basic concepts of the francophone linguistic world picture: “monde” (world), “bien” (good), “mal” (evil), “vie” (life), “mort” (death).

The songwriters extensively use descriptions of the environment in order to involve the listeners to the situation outlined in the song. The concept “vie” (life) is found to be the most frequently presented concept in the examined lyrics: it is revealed in 54% of the 100 examples. The authors praise the reality, the daily life, introduce problems connected with existence and survival, and describe typical everyday situations. The concept “monde” (world) is actualized in 27% of the examples, while the concept “mort” (death) is present in only 6% of the examples. In the majority of the songs the death topic is not demonstrated, whereas one can find life descriptions almost in every song lyrics. Speaking about the concepts “bien” and “mal” we can note that they are found in 5% and 8% of the examples respectively.

What is of particular interest is that almost all the concepts which we have pointed out as part of the francophone linguistic world picture of rock artists are united by metaphorizing nature and its elements:

Thus, the elements actualize the concept “life”:

Soudain le ciel (sky) se fane, prend des tons de tempête (storm)

Et des vagues (waves) immenses se dressent et déferlent

Les flots (waves) hurlent et s'éventrent, le vent (wind) courbe les crêtes

L'étrange bruit se fait roulement de tonnerre (thunder)

C'est d'en bas qu'il provient, des grands fonds insondables

Des lugubres abîmes, des froids enfers marins (cold marine depths)

Ténèbres (dusk) inconnues, grandioses, redoutables

Où l' eau (water) est presque givre (frost), où la nuit (night) est sans fin

Et puis on aperçoit comme une masse noire (black water)

Qui semble s'avancer sous l'onde (wave) tourmentée.

Paris Violence - Cauchemar abyssal

Life is associated with nature forces, huge waves, gusts of wind, thunderclaps, this way such associations conjure up in the listener’s mind images of a dangerous storming ocean.

Éclair éclair (lightning) tatoué sur la peau

J'ai des éclairs, des passages à niveau

Souvenir amer d'un amour menthe à l'eau

J'ai des éclair s, des retours à zéro

Elle est du tonnerre (thunder) électrocute KO

6 pieds sous terre froid comme un esquimau

Les courants d'air (drafts), les courants verticaux

Ça dégénère très vite en météo

Tard dans la nuit

Quand il n'y a plus un chat, qu'il n'y plus un bruit

Alors je pense à toi je sais que tu m'oublies

Toute une vie sans te voir ce n'es plus une vie

Éclair éclair le regards assassin

Système solaire pour une vie de martien

Éclair éclair elle foudroie les yeux pleins

D'une colère étrangère au divin

BB Brunes - Éclair Éclair

Life and love are depicted using storm and lightning metaphors.

For example, water can be a metaphor of


Je lui ai fait toucher le fond (bottom)

Il m’a emmenée jusqu’à la mer (sea), oh non

Superbus – Jusqu’à la Mer

Sur la rose évanouie

Tombe la pluie (rain)

J'en attendais beaucoup

Mais la vue sur la mer (sea)

Est loin derrière

De cet amour j'avoue

Cyril Mokaiesh - Je Fais Comme si

J'ai vu dans la rivière couler (river) des galets (pebbles) plats

Des pierres (stones) toutes rondes et même la terre parfois se noie

Je nage dans ne eau sombre où il y a longtemps déjà

Ont coulé les décombres d'un vieux navire de bois hummm

Toi l' eau (water) qui tombe qui coule sur ma fenêtre

Qu'as tu vu du monde, qu'as tu vu de la fête cette fois?

Emily Loizeau - Eaux Sombres

- love:

Je voudrais être le fond de l' eau (depth)

Là où se couchent les bateaux

Là où se noie

Là où tu pleures

Là où tu ranges ta douleur

Je voudrais être le fond de l' eau

Je voudrais être le fond de l' eau

Mêlée de voiles et de coraux (corals)

Là où tu chantes

Là où ton coeur

Se saoule et danse de bonheur

Je voudrais être le fond de l' eau

Emily Loizeau - Le fond de l'eau

- death:

Quand je suis accoudé sur le pont Saint-Michel

Que la Seine sous moi roule ses eaux boueuses (dirty waters)

Aussi trouble que la morne lavasse du ciel (sky)

C'est toujours la même question dans ma tête fiévreuse

Combien de noyés (drowned) de sont jamais remontés ?

Les poches remplies de plomb, ou lestés d'un pavé

Ils continuent de pourrir au fond de ces flots sales (in the depth of dirty waves)

C'est ce courant (stream) immonde qui a étouffé leur râle

Sans doute sont-ils bien plus nombreux qu'on ne l'imagine

Ces cadavres (corps) gonflés d' eau (water) amère et de vase

Bouffés par les poisons (poisons), rongés par la vermine

Les paupières mi-closes comme au cœur de l'extase

Et c'est dans le flux de ces vagues maladives (sick waves)

Que l' âme des suicidés (soul of the suicides) part à la dérive

Et continue de pourrir au fond de ces flots sales (in the depth of dirty waves)

Paris Violence - L'Âme des Suicidés

Les rues glacées ou filent nos volontés (iced)

La pluie sale (dirty rains)

Mais qui donc en ressort entier?

Exsonvaldes – Les Angles Morts

- frustration:

Tes espoirs (hopes) sont échoués au bord de la lagune (lagoons)

Tes rêves (dreams) sont enterrés dans une fosse commune, commune

Quand t'a tenté ta chance à bord ce bateau (boat)

T'imaginais la France comme un Eldorado

Contre vents et marées (wind and tides), tu es resté debout

La Méditerranée avait une faim de loup, de loup

Debout sur le Zinc - Lampedusa

Air is also presented as a metaphor of life and death :

Reprendre mon souffle (breathing) dans ta bouche

Avant l' asphyxie (asphyxia)

Superbus – Impensablement

Danser sous acide et se sentir

Comme une plume qui vole (flying feather), qui vole au gré du vent (will of the wind)

Je domine les montagnes (mountains) et me dirige vers Babylone

Moi je viens de Bethlehem et toi du nord

Mais peu importe car nous sommes frère et soeur

Nous ne faisons qu'un avec l' Univers (Universe)

Comme les étoiles (stars) qui brûlent dans mon Coeur

La Femme - Sphynx

Il pleut,

Le ciel est bleu (blue sky)

Il y a du vent (wind) mais rien n'y parait

C'est un moment parfait

Je l'oublierai jamais

Tout nu

Dans l'eau sur le dos

Je vois un nuage (cloud)

C'est un mirage (mirage)

C'est un moment parfait

Ne l'oubliez jamais

Philippe Katerine – Moment Parfait

Il est de ces jours où ma rivière est tarie

Où elles ne sont plus lavées de ta source mes pupilles

Qui se ferment et qui essayent l’oubli

Du vent (wind) qui fait frissonner ma vie (life)

Ta présence

Barrio Populo – Il est des jours sans toi

J'aime tes cheveux qui volent (fly)

Sous l'acropole

Le vent (wind) nous souffle des sensations

Qui viennent et s'en vont

BB Brunes – Aficionado


To sum up, having analyzed the song lyrics of the francophone artists and relying on the representation frequency of the basic concepts, we have come to the conclusion that the most frequently actualized concepts are “vie”(life) and ”monde” (world). Therefore, this fact shows that the rock artists tend to think over different aspects of life, routine, life phases and states mainly using environment and nature metaphors, creating special vibes in their works of art.


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30 April 2018

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

Cite this article as:

Kopacheva, A. R. (2018). Basic Concepts Of The Linguistic World Picture Of French Rock Artists. In I. V. Denisova (Ed.), Word, Utterance, Text: Cognitive, Pragmatic and Cultural Aspects, vol 39. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 639-646). Future Academy.