Semiotics And Pragmatis Of The Linguoconfessional World Model: Modes Of Interpretation


The paper demonstrates that in the globalization era, the issue of ethnocultural and confessional identity is a genuine concern; the problem of keeping pure and untouched the spiritual dominants that determined the ethnically specific image of being, influenced formation of the national world view as a whole. In this context, the principles of structure and content of a newly devised linguoconfessional world model are considered. In this world model various confessional world views are concentrated: Christian Orthodox, Protestant, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. It is noted, that the 21st century is marked with a growing trend to interpret linguistic and speech phenomena within the framework of world – consciousness – language – culture – confession correlations; features of semiotic and pragmatic representation of the cognitive foundation of each confession are demonstrated, which provide ethical meanings essential for the society and a person as verbalized in confessional texts. The study introduces a concept of confessional dominant that is interpreted as a linguocognitive construct pertaining to a certain confession (Christian Orthodox, Protestantism, Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.) that represents the key attributes of the confession, an initial confessional image, semantic minimum and its semantic-symbolic concretization, judgment component, etc. The study of semiotics and pragmatics of the linguoconfessional world view is most current within the framework of linguoconfessiology, a new field in the modern linguoculturology reflecting a complex system of mutual relations and correlations between language, culture and confession.

Keywords: Languageinterpretationconfessionworld viewlinguoconfessional world modelconfessional dominant


Linguistics of the 21t century sees language as a unique representation of multifaceted social, mental, historical, cultural, spiritual, moral and psychological sides of Human. Worldview serves as a universal model for systematizing and describing the Human through a prism of their perception of the world; including the total information about the world: society, concept of personality and its relations to society, freedom, good and evil, justice and labor, family, time and space, nature and cosmos, ratio of new and old, life and death, soul and spiritual values. Each worldview is passed through generations, undergoing changes during the development of a society, being an inexhaustible in its content and serving as a regulative foundation for human behavior as a whole.

Problem Statement

Adequate study and description of semiotics and pragmatics of the linguoconfessional worldview would require analysis and refinement of a number of associated concepts. Psychology has adopted a rather general approach to determining the formation of a generalized world view in humans: Perceptive and linguisitc information are represented in coding within the framework of the same conceptual scale.

The concept of the world view expanded the spectrum of identified world models, and by now researchers have identified the following world views: Cognitive, linguistic, direct, indirect, medieval, mechanistic, modern, naive, artistic, religious mythological, philosophic, scientific, terminologic, ordinary, economic, psychological, child's, and many others. However, no classification included a linguoconfessional world view that reflects a content-functional foundation of a certain confession, its value system, credo, basic postulates, etc, through semiotic system, the main of them being language.

Research Questions

Analysis of initial and derivative semantic packages in the field of figural and attitudinal nomination, phraseology, directions and methods for metaphorization affords ground for a proposition that the derivative semantics primarily includes abstract concepts of moral and ethical, cultural, emotional-psychological field, social and intellectual realia. Motivative initial semantics lies primarily in the lexical units of main vocabulary, manifesting a functional distribution and specialization of the linguistic phenomenon.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of studying the specifics of the linguoconfessional world view is to identify and describe ontology and genesis of such interlinked and mutually dependent phenomena as language and confession (religion), specifics of verbal and semiotic representation of spiritual and religious values of various confessions, as well as to demonstrate the role of various levels of the linguistic system in semiotization and representation of the confessional world view.

Research Methods

The main method is descriptive; other methods were used as well: observation, comparison, interpretation; textual; contextual; modeling.


A foundation of any confession is essential ethical meanings, verbalized in confessional texts, for example, the formula of the Christian Orthodox ethics is the constatation of “God is Love”; Protestantism ethics is founded on the postulate that “God loves Good Works”, and so on. The linguoconfessional world view as an integral spiritually representative phenomenon is structured around the relevant confessional world views: Christian Orthodox, Muslim, Protestant, Judaic, etc.

N.F. Alefirenko identifies the following systemic properties of a world view: 1) integrity; 2) cosmological nature (globality); 3) internal absoluteness and veracity; 4) stability and dynamics; 5) demonstrativeness and specificity of manifestation of its elements (Alefirenko, 2006). All these key properties in general are characteristic of the linguoconfessional world view as well, however, some of them differ in the degree of intensity of their actualization, for example, the property of dynamics.

Within the framework of analysis of the linguoconfessional model of the world, one shall note that the structure of language, the structure of real action and substantial mechanism of reception of the confessional image and model of the world surrounding the person are constructed similarly and are defined by a common cognitive system. A discourse stream of a believer’s linguistic persona, actualizing intentional, potential, significative and creative-emotional meanings, stratifies between so-called generalizing emotional-recapitulating and psychological pragmatical dominants of the most important situational units, recreated within the textual space of liturgical works. Confessional dominant is a linguo-cognitive construct related to a certain confession (Christian Orthodoxy, Islam, Judaism, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.), in which one may identify the key cognitive attributes, initial confessional image, religious-associative network, derivational history and status, content minimum, its concretization, psychological correlations, etc. Dictionary definitions may be interpreted as an interlinguisitc space of the confessional culture. An evolution of semantics and pragmatics of the language related to a certain confession that happens due to these processes proceeds by integration of cognitive-gnoseological acts of linguocreative predication, which in general represents a religious-spiritual modus of being of the linguistic persona.

When studying semiotics and pragmatics of a specific world model – the linguoconfessional one – one shall rest upon the model of speech organization of the linguistic persona. In this context, V.I. Karasik identifies five aspects: 1) linguistic capability, 2) communicative need, 3) communicative competence, 4) linguistic consciousness, 5) verbal behavior. The researcher holds that the most important component in the linguistic consciousness, where two types of mental forms are connected: knowledge and representations. Knowledge is relatively stable, objective and collective information units, while representations are subjective and individual entities, including representations proper, images and concepts, as well as connotations and assessments related to them. Knowledge and representations, nevertheless, form an integral union, where three sets of knowledge and representations are identified: 1) individual cognitive space, that is a set of all the knowledge and representations of a given human being as a person; 2) collective cognitive space, that is, a set of knowledge and representations that determines belonging of a person to a certain social group; 3) cognitive base that contains necessary knowledge and representations uniting all the holders of these knowledge and representations in a national-linguistic-cultural society. The third set is terminologically designated as a linguistic culture (Karasik, 2002).

Humanity of the 20th century came to an understanding that culture is an activity that corresponds to its idea. Culture is inseparable from other forms of human activity (cognition, artistic creativity, etc.) and the language in this context serves as a form, as the most important element of the national culture of an ethnicity.

Starting from early 20th century, culture began be seen as a specific system of values and ideas. With this meaning, culture is a set of absolute values created by human; it is a representation of human relations in objects, actions, words that people invest with meaning, that is, a system of values is the essential aspect of culture. Values, norms, patterns, ideals, they all are essential components of axiology, a doctrine of values. The language may be seen as a tool of culture, even as one of its incarnations (especially the literary, sacral language or the language of folklore) and may be described through the attributes that are common for all cultural phenomena. At that, a special attention is paid to the fact that language and culture may be compared as independent, autonomous semiotic systems, in many aspects structurally isomorphic and mutually reflective. Communality of the concepts applied to language and culture may come from a similar understanding of these phenomena as semiotic (sign) systems, described with the same logical apparatus (Astafurova & Olyanich, 2017; Zheltukhina, Zinkovskaya, Shershneva & Katermina, 2016).

The 21st century is characterized with a reinforced trend for interpreting verbal and linguistic phenomena in “world - consciousness - language - culture - confession” correlations. In this context, the immanent link between the being of the linguistic persona and conditions of its constant creative-cognitive and spiritual-practical activity, finding manifestation in formation of an event-discourse network.

There are similarities and differences between different cultures (in the broadest meaning of the term). There are spheres of meaning established, where a high degree of universalization may be traced, as well as such spheres of meaning that are characterized with specificity of the world view and cultural-confessional interpretations as a whole.

The difference between cultures in general has social and cultural-historical nature, which is determined by a number of relevant causes grouped in the content plane into historical, chronological, geographical, cultural, psychological, socio-economical and confessional-spiritual units. As noted by S.N. Bulgakov, “that goes without saying that Orthodoxy does not know autonomous ethics which is predominant area and an original gift of Protestantism. Ethics of Orthodoxy is a religious one; it is an image of soul-saving, which is pointed to religiously and ascetically. … Orthodoxy does not have different scales of morals, but uses the same scale for different positions in life. It does not know different morals, secular and monastic, the difference is that of degree, quantity, not of quality. … The Christian way is narrow and one cannot broaden it” (Bulgakov, 2001).

Creative linguoconfessional model of the world reflects in linguistic units the essential confessional values and the system of behavior patterns, the whole system of religious world acquisition through rituals fixed by centuries of practice. The linguistic world view is a foundation for the conceptual world view and forms it, due to the fact that a person is able to interpret the world and themselves through the language.

Each language reflects a certain method of perception and conceptualization of the world. A total of linguistic meanings comprises an integral system of thought, a certain collective philosophy that is forced upon all the speakers of the language as mandatory.

The linguistic world view forms a type of personal attitude towards the world (the nature, animals, oneself as an element of the world). It sets the norms of human behavior in the world, determines their attitude towards the world (Tkhorik & Vulfovich, 2017; Fanyan, 2012).

The content side of the language (and to a lesser degree its grammar) shows the world view characteristic of a given ethnos that serves as a foundation for all cultural stereotypes. Its analysis helps understand what are the differences between the ethnic cultures, how they complement each other at the global level. At that, if the meanings of all the words had been culturally specific, studies of cultural differences would have been impossible. Thus, analyzing the cultural-ethnic aspect we take into account the universal properties of the linguistic units as well.

The world reflected in the mechanism of secondary perceptions is the main factor determining universality and specificity of any given ethnic linguistic world view. At that, an important circumstance is delineation between the universal human factor and ethnic specificity in various linguistic world views. As the genetic mechanism for evaluation of bodily perception is universal, then, intertwining with human activities, simultaneously universal and ethnically-specific, it invariably results in creation of linguistic world views with both typological generalized and specific features (Lipiridi, 2015; Ostrovskaya & Khachmafova, 2016; Plaksin, 2018; Olyanitch, Khachmafova, Ostrovskaya & Makerova, 2017).

Conceptual world view may differ between different persons speaking the same language; persons speaking different languages may have closely related conceptual world views. As our research shows, the linguoconfessional world view that represents a certain confession (Christial Orthodoxy, Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, etc.) will be the same for various persons of the same confession, independent of their nationality and native language.

History of philosophy, philology and culture witnesses to impossibility of studying the modern Russian language outside its context and without considerations for those religious and ethical values and sources that formed the spiritual-morals superstructure, the mode of life and morals of previously existing state entities. N.A. Berdyaev come up with a miraculously accurate “formula”of the Russian national mindset: “The soul of the Russian people was formed by the Orthodox Church … Due to a religious-dogmatic composition of their soul, the Russians are always orthodoxes, or heretics, schismatics, they are apocalyptics or nihilists. .. And the main thing is always confession of some kind of orthodox faith, belonging to the Russian people is always defined by this” (Berdyaev, 1990). Return of the Russian society to the spiritual origins of the Russian culture activated serious linguistic studies in the problem of mutual influence and coordination of such basic phenomena as orthodoxy, language and culture in their genetic conjunction. The national language historically determines the spiritual and moral generational continuity and constancy, sanctity of the fundamental ethical values of the Russian spiritual culture imprinted in the linguistic continuum and reflected in the Russian linguistic world view and Russian Orthodox confessional world view.

In the age of globalism, the problem of ethnocultural and confessional identity, the problem of keeping pure and untouched the spiritual dominants defining the national image of being and having influenced the formation of the national world view as a whole is of much concern. As our observations show, the key factor for preservation of one's native culture, spiritual and moral foundations in every society is religion, represented by a certain concrete confession: Christian Orthodoxy, Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, etc. Being a specific form of spiritual familiarization with the world and conditioned by a belief in God, the religion performs social-regulatory function of representation and form of the mental-spiritual being of a person in the world, forming the foundation of the confessional-spiritual culture of both society and person.

Language and religion are tightly intertwined in mutual generation and influence. These are “two forms of the social consciousness, that is, two reflection of the world in the consciousness of the humanity” (Mechkovskaya, 1998).

Semiotic approach to the phenomenon of religion is deemed timely not only for analysis and description of certain rituals, verbal statements or images, but that of the religious theory itself. For example, Robert Bella identifies religion as a specific system of communication – a “symbolic model, forming the personal experience, both cognitive and emotional” in both raising and resolving the most important questions of being (Mechkovskaya, 1998).

As an ethnocultural form of implementation and representation of the religious concept, each confession concentrates in itself its own global spiritual and axiological concepts, images, symbols, which determine the life of the people during multiple centuries of the historic development. As a result, in the socio-cultural space of an ethnos, specific stereotypes of consciousness and action, attitudes, cultural praxis, organizations, axiological and confessional constants are fixed, as is the confessional world view as a whole (Tameryan, Zheltukhina, Slyshkin, Shevchenko, Katermina & Sausheva, 2018).

In the modern era, the main battles take place at the fronts of the confessional cultures, as the attitude towards the world and its construction, person, life, money and wealth primarily reflects the principles of world order and the system of spiritual values of a certain ethnic group that are fixed within the framework of a certain confession and are passed from generation to generation. For example, for the Orthodox culture, the paroemia “Не имей сто рублей, а имей сто друзей”(Rather have a hundred friends than a hundred roubles, a Russian variant of “A friend in court is better than a penny in purse”) that reflects traditionally negative attitude towards wealth and positive towards friendship as a feeling that helps survival in hard situation, is a spiritual and moral constant. Similar paroemias are absent in English or German language that represent the values and the system of spiritual praxis of Protestantism.

National-cultural and confessional exclusivity of every language is implemented at various levels of the linguistic system. It has been established, that the most explicit mental, ethnic and cultural-confessional values of the people are actualized with the means of lexical-idiomatic level of the national language. They play a special role in creating the linguistic world view. They are the mirror of the national life. The nature of their meaning is intimately related to the background knowledge of speakers, to the practical experience of a person, to the cultural and historical traditions of the ethnos that speaks this language. They ascribe the objects with the attributes associated with the world view and suppose a whole descriptive situation (text), evaluate it and express their attitude towards it. Action of the cultural-human factor onto formation and functioning of such units allow supposing that they embody the national-cultural connotation, the culturally-significant meanings. We hold, that serving as signs of cultural concepts, lexical and phraseological units facilitate formation of the cultural self-consciousness of the people speaking the language (Vulfovich, 2016a; Vulfovich, 2016b; Lipiridi & Tkhorik, 2017).

For example, the concept-symbol of soul in the Orthodox world view is interpreted as a key confessional dominant, as the doctrine of the immortal human soul is inherently linked to this concept. During the historical evolution of the national language, the soul lexeme participated in creation of a multitude of cognates and became a constituting element of a large number of phaseologisms of various nature: «Отпустить душу на покаяние» (to let the soul go for penance); «Надрывать душу» (to overstrain one's soul); «Брать (взять) грех на душу» (to break the commandments, lit. to take a sin onto one’s soul); «Родственная душа» (a soul mate) ; «Чужая душа – потемки» (another man's mind (lit. soul) is closed), etc. According to our counts, out of 164 Russian idioms, only 95 (58%) have a direct equivalent in the English language, thus reflecting a relevance of the idioms including the soul component in the Russian linguistic culture.

In the English language there are no equivalents to the Russian idioms with the component of soul that represent 1) feelings, emotional upheaval of a person or one's physical state («Гора на душе (лежит)» (there is a mountain on one's soul, about an onerous feeling)); «Душа на небе» (the soul is in the heaven, used to describe the highest level of excitement) and others); 2) qualities of personal character («Душа-человек» (soul person, a very good person)); «Копеечная душа» (a penny soul, a trivial and mean person)); «Черная душа (black soul, about an insidious person) and so on); 3) actions, intentions and behavior of a person («Выложить душу» (to open the soul out, to tell everything about oneself)); «Класть душу на что-то» (to lay down one's soul to something, to devote one's body and soul to something), etc.); 4) death («Душа вон» (the soul goes out); «Отдать душу» (to give away one's soul, to repose with the Lord); «Душа с телом расстается» (the soul is parting with the body), and so on.

The established variations in pragmatics and functioning of the soul confessionym in the Russian and English language are largely determined by the fact that in Protestantism the concept of soul does not have that foundational meaning as it does in Orthodoxy, where the soul is one of the central concepts. Protestant ethics is founded on the principles of avarice, discipline and hard work, while the Orthodox ethics highlights the necessity for a person to have divine grace, mercy and remission of sins, all originating in God. Thus, various confessional affiliation (Orthodoxy or Protestantism) through their sacral texts determined different contexts and associations for multiple linguistic units in Russian and English, including those of the soul lexeme, which in the Orthodox consciousness has the confessional meanings differing from those of the English language.

Thus, it must be admitted, that lexical and phraseological systems of the modern language are not only determining the cognitive and semiotics-representative specificity of formation of national and confessional world view of the corresponding linguistic collective, but also represents a certain unique store of mental sign information about the world that surrounds the person, about the experience and integrating knowledge obtained during the civilizational evolution.

Vocabulary and phraseology of the Russian national language, as well as that of other languages, serve as a highly complex system of mutually correlating and mutually determining units of the same functional and pragmatic level.

Sacral ethical core of the Orthodox world view is formed by the concept-symbols of sobornost (communalism), soul, faith, love, divine grace, law, mercy, repentance, sin, blessing.

Idioms of the Russian national language fully reflects the Orthodox confessional culture, represents all the key principles of Orthodoxy as seen by layman's eyes and also provided with assessment, for example: «Не судите, да не судимы будете» (Judge not and you will no be be judged); «Бог отымет, Бог и подаст» (Lord takes away and Lord will provide); «Нести свой крест» (to bear one's cross); «Тот не богат, у кого много палат; а тот не убог, кого любит Бог» (He is not reach if he has many rooms, and he is not poor if loved by God); «Положить душу за кого-либо/на что-либо» (To devote one's soul to somebody/something), etc.

The adherents of Protestant ethics have a special attitude to work, labor, money, wealth and success, represented in English and German with the following confessionally-labeled idioms: A bad worker scolds his tools; Hard work never hurt anybody; «If you cannot do it well, do it thorough; Money doesn’t grow on trees and others.

The Catholic stereotypes and ethical norms are represented in the following idioms: Nothing kills as good as a lie, If God makes someone, God will not kill them; When a man is in a hurry, devil rejoices (cf. Russian idiom: «Поспешишь – людей насмешишь», lit. Go in a hurry and make people laugh); Do not believe the words, believe the deeds, etc.


Within the framework of a new line of research in linguoculturology, linguoconfessiology, it is necessary to thoroughly study the verbal and semiotic explication, mutual correlation and mutual determination of the national language (in all its levels), confession and culture; study of those cognitive-semiotic, pragmatic, mental-derivation and other means and methods with which the language actualizes in its units, preserves and transfers from generation to generation the confessional culture of a given society, as well as a multifactorial research into specifics of the linguistic manifestation, presentation of the confessional identity; systematization and lexicographic orderliness of not only religiously, but mainly confessionally-labeled linguistic means at the phonetic, lexical, idiomatic and grammatic levels, in the space of a sacred text. This ability of the national language to provide the verbal-semiotic representation of confession and culture determines a possibility of its action upon mindset and the modus of world view, typical for a certain linguoconfessional community» (Buyanova, 2014).

In the modern Russian national language, the denotations (of all types) of various confessional world views find their linguistic manifestation and representation, both as separate words-confessionyms (confessional vocabulary – 1) собор (cathedral), кирха (Protestant church), мечеть (mosque), синагога (synagogue) etc; 2) псалом (psalm), молитва (prayer), месса (mass), проповедь (sermon), исповедь (confession) etc; 3) крещение (baptism), причащение (taking communion), всенощное бдение (night-long vigil), конфирмация (confirmation), индульгенция (indulgence), повечерие (complin) etc; 4) кипа (skullcap), платок (kerchief), клобук (monk's cowl), апостольник (wimple), хиджаб (hijab), ряса (outer cassock), изар (trousers ending above ankles), чадра (chador) , никаб (niqab), стихарь (surplice), епитрахиль (orarion) etc; 5) дарохранительница (tabernacle), менора (menorah), семисвечник (seven-branched candlestick), потир (chalice), лжица (labis) etc.), idioms, proverbs, paroemias, and in texts: religious, literary, philosophical, theological, sacral, etc.

Subsequent research into specifics of language, pragmatics and semiotics of the linguoconfessional model of the worlds and existing confessional world views within the framework of linguoconfessiology will provide capabilities for better understanding, acknowledgment, feeling and acceptance of their religious and cultural exclusivity and universality (for example, Christian Orthodoxy – Islam; Islam – Judaism, etc), that are manifested both linguistically and extralinguistically.


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29 March 2019

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Zinkovskaya, A. V., Buyanova, L. Y. B., Katermina, V. V., Plaksin, V. A., & Tlekhatuk, S. R. (2019). Semiotics And Pragmatis Of The Linguoconfessional World Model: Modes Of Interpretation. In D. K. Bataev (Ed.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism, vol 58. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 1791-1800). Future Academy.