Chrononyms And Loconyms As Reflection Of Cultural Transformations In Russian Ditties


Folklore is a form of reflection of national collective consciousness, emotional perception of the world, axiological attitudes, and it is of particular interest for the study. A ditty (chastushka) is one of the few genres of folklore, which functions and develops in modern linguistic culture, changing under the influence of extralinguistic factors. It shows a rapid reaction in response to everything that happens in our society, transferring the attitude of the cumulative linguistic personality to the events of social, economic, and political situation in the country and the world in the traditional form of two-line or four-line rhymed poem ditty on some topical or humorous theme. In many ways, this popularity of the genre is due to the special representation of the basic concepts of Space and Time. Despite the relatively recent time of becoming an independent genre of folk art (mid-nineteenth century), ditties quickly gained popularity and remains an actively developing genre in our days. In the modern anthropocentric paradigm of philological research, the text of ditties is of a particular interest, and this is due to the fact that the author of ditties is a cumulative linguistic personality, it provides a better understanding of the subtleties of changes in ethno-linguistic consciousness over time. In this article we would like to consider some verbal means of realization of two fundamental non-discursive folklore concepts Time and Space in the Russian ditties and on this material to trace the sociological and cultural transformations..

Keywords: Dittyfolk conceptworld picturespacetime


The preservation of knowledge within the national collective is the goal of folklore discourse, which is institutional, but at the same time its institutionality has a specific character, due to the fact that the communication of interlocutors does not take place within one social institution. Folklore discourse offers certain behaviour patterns to the personality in typical situations, it translates the norms and standards of status-role behaviour in aesthetically processed texts of a limited number of genres assigned to typical communicative situations. The discourse determines the cognitive and value orientations, fixing the binary relationship (normal / abnormal, acceptable\unacceptable, good\evil, etc., providing a distinctive world view (Emer, 2011, p.26). That is why the texts of ditties are of interest to researchers, this genre is a carrier of self-consciousness of the ethnic group. Modern linguo-folklore studies are characterized by a system-structural approach to the consideration of the language of folklore, which involves the involvement of the cultural context. The focus is on the peculiarities of the reconstruction of the folklore picture of the world and the specificity of the folklore linguistic personality. In the folklore picture of the world researchers distinguish two sides: cultural and historical aspect (connection with mentality, reflection of stereotypes of ethnic consciousness) and language aspect of folklore picture of the world. (Bobunova, 2018) The words in the composition of the this picture acquire special characteristics, different from those, that they have in the general language. (Berezovich, 2014). The variability associated with different degrees of conditionality is in the image of the world, in the selectivity in the image of information associated with the value of the components of the world picture – the distinctive properties of the linguistic aspect. The linguistic aspect of the folklore picture of the world is characterized by stereotype (or formality), which results from the tendency of folklore images to obtain stability and constancy, the breadth of paradigmatic connections of the folklore word, the semiotic nature of the folklore word, which is able not only to point to a particular reality, but also to express any semiotic opposition. The last, the third component is determined not by the immediate context, but by the entire folklore tradition, since the folklore word is not only a means of modeling the image of the surrounding world, but also a means of its evaluation. Let's take a closer look at the linguistic aspect of the folklore picture of the world and consider the characteristics that become the properties of lexemes in its composition when verbalizing the concepts of Space and Time.

Problem Statement

The dynamics of folklore concepts Space and Time in the ditties is connected with extralinguistic factors and is expressed in nomination of new types of spaces, change of lexemes for designation of key oppositions, change of connotations of lexemes in the structure of space and time. (Rybakova, & Milkova, 2016). A ditty occupies a special position in the system of folklore genres, is a nuclear genre, which determines its importance as a material for modeling key fragments of the national picture of the world and studying its transformations over time and changes in the social, political, economic situation in the country and the world.

Research Questions

The subject of this work is genre variants of folklore concepts Space and Time, verbalized in the texts of Russian ditties and peculiarities of language means of their representation.

Purpose of the Study

The aim of the work is to analyze the lexemes that verbalize the changes taking place in the social and political life of Russia and the world over time and under the influence of globalization. Taking into account that the author of the ditty is a cumulative linguistic personality, and the nature of this folklore genre is anthropocentric, the study of the lexemes of basic folklore concepts Space and Time in the texts of ditties of different time periods will allow us to understand more deeply the specifics of ethno-linguistic consciousness and to enrich the information about the Russian language picture of the world and the folklore picture in particular.

Research Methods

We used the methods of continuous sampling for the selection of fragments containing loconyms and chromonyms; classification of selected linguistic units; lingvo-culturological method for the detection of relations between linguistic and cultural material.


The texts of ditties have become the material for many studies, folklorists intentionally compared the ditty with the genre of newspaper chronicles, because from these rhymes, you can learn about current events, and about the relationships between the community members. The form of information presentation in ditty genre is usually in the first person, but this does not mean that the author expresses only his own opinion (except the ditties of some original author, published in collections). On the contrary, the information presented by a ditty becomes a collective opinion, shares the responsibility for what is said with a group of native speakers. The researchers also point to transgression as a form of image of events, the author of the ditties takes the position of an external observer, which gives him the right in the texts of the ditties to violate the existing prohibitions in society: for example, children could express their opinion about adults, and it was possible to break the communicative taboo (for people to criticize the government, for a woman to make a love confession for a man, etc.).

To identify the specificity of the representation of time in folklore texts, the researchers turn to two models of perception of the world – historical and cosmological. The historical model traces the causal relationship between events: each subsequent event is the result of the previous one, and in the cosmological (or archaic) model the initial state always exists. Thus, cosmological time is more connected with space, it is cyclic, not linear. (Shmeleva, Shmelev, 2009; Tiupa, 2009) .The perception of time through space allows us to speak about the space-time syncretism that is typical of the folklore picture of the world. Time of folklore works (as well as space) can only be empirical, the one in which the main character lives and acts. The idea of space is closely related to the idea of time and form the basis of human thought about the world and his place in it. The researchers classify space as a fundamental category, which explains the importance of spatial images in the linguistic consciousness of the ethnos, implemented in the texts. Space of the folklore model of the world is perceived as a derivative of the objects that fill it, and not as a place that accommodates these objects. Folklore concepts differ from general cultural ones at the figurative and axiological levels, reflect collective experience, and individual peculiarities of perception are represented in them in the least amount. Depending on different parameters, there are symbolic concepts of conceptual type, or complex folklore concepts. Discursive and non-discursive concepts are distinguished. The concepts Space and Time are complex folklore concepts and refer to non-discursive concepts.

The term concept is integrative, because it combines language, thinking and culture, the concept reflects the knowledge and experience of society, is a substitute of concept. In lingua-cuturological approach to concept studies (Maslova, 2004; Vorkachev, 2001; Karasik, 1999; Graves, & Karasik, 2009) the value and cultural components are the basic ones. The concepts of Space and Time are the fundamental concepts of the national picture of the world, reflecting the archetypal ideas of people about their environment. V. O. Imeev notes that Time is a moving substance, and this movement affects all the surroundings (Imaev, 2005, p. 160). In a ditty, time appears before us in the form of freeze frame short, or the stopped moment. The action in this folk genre always takes place in the present time, which is explained by the anthropocentric nature of the ditties. The focus is on the lyric hero, experiencing, evaluating, analyzing. Folklorists compare ditties with the genre of newspaper chronicles, because from them you can learn the latest news, the attitudes of the community to them, their assessment presented by the hero.

The peculiar feature of the concept of Time is its constant development and change: "While space is sufficiently indifferent to a man and static, as it does not change its characteristics spontaneously, time is a moving substance, which by its movement alters all things" (Imeev, 2005, p. 163). The concept of Time is represented by linear and cyclic models. The changes taking place in the cultural, political and economic life of the country are reflected in the texts of ditties. Various groups of lexemes indicate the time, and we present some of them and pay attention to the change of connotations over time. Consider, for example, the use of names of week days, which perform the two functions in the ditty: nominative (indicate the time) and symbolic.

The most frequent name of the day of the week is Sunday, this day of the week has the largest number of connotative values. First, in pre-revolutionary Russia Sunday is a day off, associated with entertainment, dancing, or holiday: Ty igrai, igrai, talyanka (You play, play, accordion), / Tvoi rezki goloski (Your voice is cutting)/V voskresenitso talyanochka (On Sunduy this accordion)/Dobavila toski (Contributed to my sorrow).

Later (after 1967), with the transition to a widespread five-day working week, Sunday has ceased to be associated with rest, f or Friday began to express this connotation : Poslezavtra, govoryat (The day after, they say),/Nastupaet Gyatnitsa (Friday is coming) /Znachit, budem tantsevat (So we will dance) /Vse, komu tak nravitsa (All who like it).

Sunday is also associated with religious connotations that relate this day to the day after the creation of the world by the Lord, it is a sacred day, the day of visiting the Church. The ditty of the Soviet period appears to contrast traditional Soviet, sacral – desacralization. Let us consider an example of the text of the ditty, in which representatives of different generations perceive Sunday (Voskresenie) differently: Ne rugai menya, mamasha (Do not scold me, mother),/ Shto ya vtserkov ne khozhu (That I do not go to Church):/, Naprolyot vsyo voskresenie (All Sunday long)/V nashem clube provozhu (I spend in our club).

Also, the desacralised space of Sunday is manifested in the rethinking of the tradition to wear the best clothes on Sunday for going to Church: Nynche prazdnik voskresenie (Now a holiday of Sunday),/ Ya poluchshe uberus (I'd better do my house work};/Yubku rvanuyu nadenu (I will put on my ripped skirt)/I verovkoi podvyazhus (And a rope tie).

We have found another day of the week, which acquired a new meaning in Soviet culture (after 1919). It is Saturday (Subbota), the day of social work (Saturday, Sunday): I sing songs with joy:/We have Subbotniks! We have Voskresniks!

In the texts of ditties, the role of temporary markers is performed by the days of memory of saints, by the names of religious holidays, etc. However, over time, the names of Church holidays are used in an ironic sense, so we can trace the change in folk customs and rituals, again associated with the desacralization of the image of the Church: Babka s dedkoyu govely (Grandma with Grandad were fasting)/Tolko redku s kvasom yeli (Ate only radish with bread drink./A prishel Velikii Post (But the Great Fasting have come) –/Ih stashchili na pogost (They were dragged to the churchyard, dead). We observe the use of the verb govet associated with traditional fasting, but after reading the second part of the text of the ditties it becomes clear that this word is used ironically, as the abstinence from food is associated with poverty or starvation, not religion.

The Church calendar in the pre-Soviet ditties regulates the social life of people, days, months, as the time periods are marked as suitable or not appropriate for various events in a person's life: a wedding, matchmaking, recreation, celebrations, etc. However, in the post-Soviet texts, we observe a complete rethinking of religious rites and customs. The texts reveal the signs of specific time periods due to the linguistic and cultural situation. For example, the period of ten years in the Soviet ditties is a term of serving of punishment in prison for anti-Soviet propaganda. The linguistic culture of the Soviet period is also associated with the unit of working time workday (trudoden), for socialist reality – five-year-plan (pyatiletka) : Ya skazhu odno slovechko (I will say one little word) /Srazu desyat let dadut (And will be immediately imprisoned for ten years)... / Trudodney ya zarabotal (I gained the workdays) /Na chetyresta pudov (For the weight of four hundred puds; one pud is 16 kilograms).../ Pyatiletku provedem (We can complete a five-year-plan)/My v chetyre godika (For only four years) …

Each period has its own characters, and ditties, as a folk genre, quickly responding to changes in society, reflects the events and gives them an assessment (Meshkov, 2001). Indirectly, the" time "in the texts of ditties most often indicate anthroponyms that are the names of political and public leaders, less often we can find the names of celebtrities (actors, singers, etc.) For example, in ditties about the revolution, we have found the lexemes Lenin, Ilyich, carrying a negative connotation associated with infernal symbols. Through them, we can see the attitude of the cumulative linguistic personality of the people to what happened: Calls himself Lenin /I am a populist and Marxist! –/You're just a German spy/And to the well an artist./People wonder: how Lenin could / Defeat bourgeois?/I'm sure: it was /Satan who helped him.

Similar connotations in ditties are associated with the image of Stalin, and the most frequent words here are hunger, prison, deportation, death. The belly fails me out of hunger,/I can barely move my feet./But in the library/I read the books by Stalin.

Ditties show the immediate reaction to the changes taking place in the society. Each prominent political leader has received a popular assessment of his activities, as folk art subtly notes the trends, the manners and the characters of these people, and sometimes it emphasizes their appearance. Anthroponyms are linked with the whole historic period. Let's take the example of texts of the following rhymes to take a closer look at how the heroes of this folk genre varied (Kulagina, 2000).

For modern linguistics, the inseparable and constant link between language and culture is relevant and productive. Language is both a part of culture, its condition and its product. Folklore works, including ditties, are a reflection of the national worldview. Along with the concept of Time I would like to consider such a basic concept as Space. (Olson, 2015)Understanding of space is the basis for the formation of human ideas about the world, and about the place of man in this world. Nominations of space in a particle ditty have a descriptive function, establishing and characterizing the place of action. However, along with the definition of the place of space nomination, traditional meanings are associated with the specifics of the folklore picture of the world in general and with the ditty model of the world in particular. This become obvious through the connotations of friend and foe or the space of US and the space of THEM. Friendly space of US in the text of the ditties can represent everyday objects, parts of the house, toponyms, etc. With the anthropocentrical space of US, the ditty lexemes are connected with the nomination of inanimate objects that are directly found in the household use. When analyzing the texts of ditties of different time periods, it is worth noting the impact of scientific and technological progress. Thus, there is a high frequency of the lexemes of the nineteenth century, that nominate musical instruments (balalaika, accordion): Play, accordion / there is a little bit of time/I can only spend a holiday with you/ then I'll put you on the shelf/ , jewelry (a ring, a signet ring): Over the broad river/I threw a ring/Now, all my companions know/ That my boyfriend and I split up/ clothes (a dress, a shawl): A blue shawl sheds/on my head/my boyfriend walks with another girl/so he is unfaithful/ , parts of the house/household (the place at the stove, a bench, a bath (banya), a garden): I'll sit on the bench,/I'll take my balalaika/I'll hit the strings,/ And the girls will join us/ , a treat for tea / tea ceremony (samovar, cookies, candy): Mother, make some tea in samovar/A cheesemaker is coming for a date with me/ phytonyms (birch, aspen): Wait, Birch, stand still /Do not make me feel upset/Without you, my Birch, I know,/ A foreign land is depressing / etc. The lexemes mentioned above are often replaced in the ditties of the Soviet period The new clothing items often have additional connotations (a red handkerchief,an icon-badge): Vanya promised to give me a star,/and he kept his promise,/the icon-badge of Little Octobrist /He pinned on my chest . We also observed the appearance of some musical mechanisms (the gramophone, record player): My burden/has a Gramophone on the belly / As it begins to crying or sing/ All the communal flat goes crazy/ . The same situation is with new public spaces (a club, a collective farm): Oh, our collective farm/With only oats on the plate./ Eat it if you can, or only have a look at it / But you have to go to work/ . The new types of spaces (office, cottage) also appear in the modern ditties: The lady was screaming in the office /At the face of her assistant/Your sales are so low/So you are throwing sand in the machine/ , new types of clothing (jeans, leather biker jackets, designer clothing): I am running, and running, and running,/I'm chased by the police,/ I got dressed Haute couture/Why am I under repressions/ , household items and devices (TV, player, mobile phone): Babarikha made a lot of clips/with the camera of her mobile phone/And she threatened that all the videos / will be on YouTube/ etc.

Alien space in a traditional ditty represents the image of a city in opposition to village An woman works at home / Her son lives in St. Petersburg / She waits for money from him/But he wears old, worn-out footwear/ . It is worth mentioning that over the time, the lexeme city moved from alien space to US space and became the embodiment of the dreams of any resident of the village: All the young got away/ from the village to the cities./ There they don't need to cut the wood / and can get the ready food. Also, to refer to the alien space in the ditties, we observe the proper names, which belong to different thematic groups, for example, "Europe" representing a foreign space that is hostile in terms of economic conditions: Europe is threatening us again /with a cruel restrictions /I am sitting and smiling/and eating a pickle /. Among the toponyms denoting "alien" space there are he so-called key lexemes. First of all, these include "Japan", "Germany", "America". "Japan" is found in pre-revolutionary ditties and associated with the concept of "alien" space, the place of fighting: Soon, soon, I will depart/going to the Far East /where the enemies attacks us/damned Japanese /. The ditties of 1940s-1950s have the toponym "Germany" with a symbolic value that, due to historical events, is the space, destroying "OUR" space and associated with death and invasion: Oh, Germany, Germany!/What have you done!/ Ninety-nine girls / Hugging the one /. The space represented by the toponym America has a dynamic character, demonstrationg various semes in ditties of the different periods: competition ( We caught up with America in milking cows ), military domination ( Gunpowder in the good States is not over yet ), economically hostile space ( Sanctions, sanctions,/we are having fun with the Americans/that Obama made us laugh/and imposed a bunch of sanctions !).

The Internet space is an open platform where everyone can express their opinion about what is happening. Also, the increase of popularity of the Internet creativity can be explained by the lack of censorship. In the world web, you can find ditties of any subject, which, however, differ from traditional in their form and content. (Peschio, Pil'shchikov, & Vigurskii, 2005) The texts of ditties became more compressed, clear, and there are new modern heroes, most of them clearly defined and named. Along with the traditional names, these new nominations include the names of modern realities of our society: I fell in love with a programmer, /And he got so drunk./How are you, my dear friend,/ Overloaded with the boose.

Currently, the ditties have become a part of the genre of political discourse, as they often present the estimation of the political situation, reflecting the current political realities. The world wide web has established and bolstered a number of communities dedicated to the development of political ditties, and it reveals the traditional juxtaposition of past and present typical of this genre. As the time in ditties appears to be stopped, the comparison is not always in favour of the present. Also most of the ditties express the negative attitude of the hero to what is happening, the frustration and dissatisfaction replace the gaiety and good humour of traditional texts. Personal and family negative experiences are replaced by an assessment of the social life of the community. Ditties are written about the standards of living, the irresponsibility of the officials, the reduction of the level of education, deterioration of the health of the nation. It is worth noting that the use of obscene vocabulary in ditties is unreasonably frequent. This fact, apparently, indicates a decrease in the level of education and culture: In polyclinics, doctors / Have become angrier than gadflies./ Stupid, but rude/Without any reason ./


The dynamics of folklore concepts Space and Time in the texts of ditties is associated with extralinguistic factors and is expressed in the nomination of new types of spaces (kolkhoz (collective farm) – for the Soviet ditties, the Internet – for the modern ones). We observe the change of lexemes referring to key oppositions (hostile space in pre-revolutionary ditties is nominated by the toponym Japan, in the ditties of the 1940s-1950s – by Germany, in the ditties of the Soviet and post-Soviet periods – by America). In the concept of Time the connection with the linguistic culture is manifested in the desacralisation of the lexeme Sunday" through its connection with the space of the dance club (not the Church). The Soviet linguistic culture is associated with the nomination of the period of time five-year plan, workday, ten years (denoting the term of imprisonment for anti-Soviet agitation), etc. The texts of ditties reflect the events of the political, economic and social life of the country. When analyzing the material of ditties of different times, it is possible to trace the decrease in the level of the value component of the lexemes verbalizing the basic folklore concepts of Space and Time. Also, the emphasis of the described features will be mixed with the lyrical hero, not sensual experiences fall into the focus of the nomination, but the material consequences of certain events, the cumulative linguistic personality gives an assessment of what is happening, often, a negative assessment. Under the influence of such a process as globalization, through the Internet, in the absence of censorship, the genre continues to develop actively and tends to a certain language level and the use of obscene vocabulary.


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29 March 2019

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Rubakova, I. I., & Karluccio, A. (2019). Chrononyms And Loconyms As Reflection Of Cultural Transformations In Russian Ditties. 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. 2596-2604). Future Academy.