Metamorphosis Of The Concept "Love" And Its Lexical And Syntactic Nomination


The article is devoted to the study of metamorphosis of the basic concept of the story "The last pages of the woman’s diary" by V.Ya. Bryusov. The article considers the concept "love" as a complex mental and semantic entity which has a semantic and expressive space revealed in literary texts. The main approaches to the term "concept" were analyzed. The lexical semantic space of the concept was analyzed. Peculiarities of the concept metamorphosis in terms of nominal syntactic semiosis were identified. The syntactic naming method reveals internal semantic and expressive naming resources. Thus, the concept “love” in the Bryusov’s story is dynamic, manifested at different levels of speech. The concept-metamorph manifests itself due to its syntactic use. This is evidenced by the vocabulary and text-discursive characteristics of the concept “love” and field structuring of this concept which affects the nature of expression of the linguistic picture of the world. The authors conclude that conceptual metamorphosis is a semantic shift in the meaning of the denotate due to acquisition of a new semantic plan which is layered on the primary one

Keywords: Conceptconceptual spheresyntactic nominationlexical


The story “The Last Pages from the Woman's Diary” is relevant because it is close to our era of discord and disintegration, with typical and eternal problems of the Russian ethnos and mentality due to impossibility of overcoming temptations of civilization, sinfulness of the world despite amazing sensuality and generosity of the Russian soul. The central concept of the story is “love” which has various semantic and emotional connotations. This concept is not only a lexical and phraseological unit. It is a syntactic name when we deal with a flexible and mobile form of explicit attribution capable of conveying a denotative meaning in its internal dynamics, specific links with other denotates involved in communication (Velichko, 2008).

Problem Statement

The scope of semantics is structured. The area of senses, being systematized at the universal level is a conceptual sphere. At the language level, its correlate is a semiosphere. The conceptual sphere and semiosphere (plan of content and plan of expression) is in ambivalent equilibrium whose regulator is language personality of the speaker (author). It regulates the relationship between these areas and determines the degree of significance of a concept in a given situation.

In the works by Apresyan (1995), Telia (1981) and other scientists, all concepts are divided into basic and secondary. Some researchers reduce the concept sphere to the semantic primitives (which make up a basis of any language).

Mishukova (2001) considers the conceptual metaphor as one of the forms of the cognitive process, which forms and expresses new concepts. The concept is a “universal of human consciousness”, which possesses historical endurance and internal security from external influence, refers to information about current or possible states of affairs in the world. “The concept as any discrete unit reflects the subject of the real and unreal world, is stored in the national memory of native speakers and occupies the corresponding cell in the national conceptual sphere of the language” (Mishukova, 2001, p. 104).

According to the researcher, some universal concepts are grouped and verbalized differently depending on linguistic, pragmatic and culturological factors. In addition, Mishukova (2001) distinguishes between the central concept (conceptual metaphor) and numerous secondary images.

Krongauz (2001) defines a concept as “a thought or idea to which psychological reality is attributed” (p. 218). The concept relates the real and cognitive spaces in the linguistic picture of the world - hence, the basic concepts can be divided into spatial, temporal, existential, and emotional ones. Thus, we can talk about the concepts of nature, society, man, love, hate, joy, sin, virtue, etc.

Concepts make up a conceptual sphere of language (the conceptual and semantic basis of the collective mind, transmitted in experience and knowledge, which defines the semi-sphere of language as a basis for the linguistic picture of the world).

Likhachev (1993) believes that “the concept exists not for the word itself, but for each main word meaning separately. The concept does not arise from the meaning; it is a result of collision of the vocabulary meaning of a word with personal and national experience” (p. 6).

Concepts arise in the mind of individuals as “hints of possible meanings” and responses to the previous language experience – poetic, scientific, historical, etc. In addition, the concept expands the value leaving room for speculation. Thus, concepts are sometimes perceived differently by the addressees, although the context limits these possibilities. In addition, Likhachev (1993) introduces the term ‘conceptual sphere’ of the Russian language. “Potencies discovered in the vocabulary of an individual, as well as in the language as a whole are conceptual spheres” (Likhachev, 1993, p. 8). The conceptual sphere of the national language is consistent with historical experience of the nation. The richer the culture of the nation, the richer the conceptual sphere of the language (Godienko, Zinkovskaya, Ryzhenko, Rybalchenko, & Kholodinova, 2017).

Using concepts, individuals do not think about the constituent elements of their structures. Only by referring to this concept as a unit of knowledge, a person identifies its specific characteristics – components or conceptual signs. These signs reflect objective and subjective characteristics of objects and phenomena and differ in the degree of abstractness. The core of the concept consists of specific figurative characteristics that are a result of sensory perception of the world, lay knowledge. The core includes an invariant meaning of the concept is preserved. Abstract signs are derivatives in relation to more specific ones. They reflect special knowledge about objects (Pavlovskaya, 2007).

Thus, the concept is a complex thought-meaning formation with a certain space, while its universalism is individual. Therefore, the concept can be perceived only within a certain context.

The potential of the concept "love" is dynamic. The most favorable opportunities for identification of its nature are provided by the space of artistic discourse. This is due to the fact that the artistic text is an idiostyle entity. The idiostyle as a system of artistic and graphic means used by the author to translate the content plan into the expression plane. It is a coordinator of text and subtext relations, texts and metatexts.

Research Questions

The authors aim to answer the following questions: How does the syntactic nomination of the concept influence its semantic content? How did the author's attitude manifest itself in the syntactic nomination of the concept and influence its expressive content? The answers will allow the authors to analyze (determine) possible metamorphoses of the concept “love” in the process of its nomination syntactic interpretation.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to trace the metamorphosis of the concept "love" in terms of nominal syntactic semiosis.

The author’s linguistic personality which reveals the dynamism of the concept and the conceptual sphere in an artistic text, its intentions, including metatext ones, is based on the concept’s space. The structuring of a concept expression plan implies several levels of “exit” into the semiosphere and text. The main level is lexical semantic; the auxiliary ones are phonosemantic, syntactic semantic, etc.

In order to implement the basic conceptual level – lexical semantic - the linguistic and cognitive-linguistic approaches are needed. It is also necessary to use a special nomination syntactic method.

The theory of syntactic nomination (Migirina, 1977, Maksimov, 2011; Burov, 2000; Fricke, 2004; Sakhno, 2018) considers nomination as a connection between language and linguistic personality of the author and the cognio-semiological space that forms the text, the subtext, the metatext, where the concept-sphere and semi-sphere of the language manifest themselves. Moreover, thanks to the nomination-syntactic approach, it is possible to determine the dynamics of nomination processes.

The theory of syntactic nomination is based on a number of postulates that establish a connection between language personality, the verbal basis of speech and those pragmatic tasks that are solved in a particular situation, when designating complex, individual phenomena. It is very difficult to express this connection by means of lexical nomination, because, despite its semantic flexibility, polyvalence, contextual increments, nomination is not able to capture intentions of the linguistic personality. The dynamics of the concept (as well as the conceptual sphere as a whole) can be expressed in different ways, however, the objective state of metamorphosis as semantic transformation of essential properties is expressed in changes in the denotate attributes. In the text, fixation of metamorphic states is possible only due to nomination-syntactic semiosis of the sign, formal image of the object that corresponds to its state.

It is not enough to operate with “lexical and phraseological levels” (Sakhno, 2018, p. 72) when nominating objects. In the Russian language, units of the “small syntax” sphere (Kubryakova, 1986, p. 85) can be used for nomination due to their dynamism (Fricke, 2004). Formation of syntactic names is “a natural result of qualitative transformation of a conversion type at the dictum / content plan level reflecting objective reality that is revealed in certain situations at the modus level / individual feeling and perception of the expression plan and assessment” (Burov, 2000).

The Russian language as a cognitive-linguistic system based on the synthetic organization of the nomination space has the richest nominal-analytical potential revealed in speech. In the Russian language vocabulary (text), the nomination is based on any syntactic model - from the syntactic form of the word to the superphrase unity and coherent text (Burov, 2008).

Thus, any syntactic unit, including a predicative one, is capable to perform nomination-syntactic conversion, breaking the dynamic balance of the content plan and expression plan inherent in the lexical nomination. The syntactic nomination violating this balance is formed as a spatial entity. The syntactic nomination of any type polyfunctional.

In the text of Bryusov's (1918) story, the lexical semantic space is realized depending on the conditions in which the carrier of a concept that has its own idea of love is. Moreover, this concept enters into many relationships with other concepts. On the one hand, it is an area of similar sensual manifestations of the author and his characters (for example, hatred, friendship, sympathy, passion, etc.); on the other hand, these are objects, phenomena, situations associated with love; thirdly, this is a field of meta-comments, an expression of the author’s attitude to the basic concept “love” and to what is associated with it. Finally, the basic concept acquires a paraverbal meaning which is subjective, individual, being an immaterial, spiritual layer of the text.

In the linguistic plan itself, all these 4 manifestations of the basic concept “love” are present: a) in contexts where the nuclear meanings of the word are revealed; b) in contexts where the word enters into various kinds of relations (synonymous, antonymic, etc.); c) at the hyperparadigmatic level (relations of the concept with its analogs); d) in an associative-conceptual way when the context includes details that cause associations with love, but they do not speak about love directly.

The nuclear meaning is present in the following context: Все же я любил тебя, царица, любил всей полнотой чувства, не знающего предела и хотящего границу. Love is a strong, unlimited feeling.

In the following context: “... мужчина…может погибнуть ради любви и будет счастлив своей гибелью ”, the word “любовь” (love) enters into antonymous synonymous relations (“Love is always happiness”).

The concept is also associated with its counterparts at the hyperparadigmatic level. Those relationships exist between all sensual manifestations of a person (sensation), when “love” as a paradigmatic entity correlates with “hatred”, “tenderness”, “vanity”, etc.

For example: 1) …Что значит жить с мужем, который ненавистен. 2) - Да ведь это же любовь…Ты любишь этого мальчика, гибкого как былинка…. 3) Он – моя собственность, я его сделала и имею все права на него….

Finally, the concept is realized in an associative-nominative way: “Я хотел убедиться в своей силе и узнать, достоин ли я обладать тобой, т.е. любить тебя”.

Basic concepts are universal, fixed in the explanatory dictionaries. However, there are a lot of individual shades of the concept. Artistic discourse can awaken these associative zones and stimulate free perception of a particular phenomenon. The linguistic identity of the author opens up the the energy potential of the concept. The richer the archetype, the more opportunities for various kinds of metamorphosis the concept has.

Research Methods

The methods used for research are as follows: traditional methods (observation, description and systematization), narrative analysis, cogniolinguistic and conceptual analysis.


The lexical and syntactic signs, being characterized by different semiotic genesis, overlap. The syntactic sign enters into the act of nomination naturally, because we do not perceive the syntactic form of the word, or the syntagma as a union of syntax, or the subordinate part of a complex sentence as an expanded sign of a predicative character correlated with denotata outside the nominative function ... Meaning and use of the unit “balanced in an isolated nomination, manifest a dynamic effect only in the text, where the sign acquires features of utterances” (Burov, 2000, p. 58).

Here are some examples:

1) - …Вне тебя меня нет.

Такие слова нежат, как ласка любимой кошки с пушистой шерстью (18 сентября)

2) Люблю ли я Володю? Вряд ли. В нем мне нравится мое создание… (19 сентября)

3) В Володе я люблю его любовь ко мне. В Модесте – возможность моей любви к нему… (19 сентября)

4) В нем я люблю опасность. Наша любовь – тот поединок роковой, о котором говорит Тютчев. (19 сентября)

5) Мне показалось, что предложение, сделанное мне Модестом, было не все то, ради чего он звал меня провести с ним день за городом. (25 сентября)

The examples contain special nomination units based on the laws of syntactic compatibility. The resulting syntactic names have a spatial texture of non-predicative (examples 2, 3), semi-predicative (example 1) and predicative (examples 4, 5) plans. The nominations are characterized by open internal semantic and expressive potential of designation in connection with the expression of the author’s attitude to what is being said. The conceptual entity is presented in a new perspective - as a dynamic state developed in the space of discourse.

The nature of syntactic nominations is determined by their spatial organization, structure, which depends on the speaker's intentions: the subjective inner form of the inexhaustible denotative essence gets its verbal appearance as a metafunction that forms the meta-space, “metatext in the text” (Wezhbitska, 1978). Thus, the basic concept “love” is flexible in the conceptual sphere and in the semiosphere which determine the linguistic picture of the world. The indirect description of “как ласка любимой кошки с пушистым хвостом” relates to alternative options: “мне нравится мое создание”, “опасность”, “любовь ко мне”, “возможность моей любви к нему”. Examples 4 and 5 are the most interesting. In the context “тот поединок роковой, о котором говорит Тютчев” “любовь (love)” is associated with “struggle”, “danger”. The context “все то, ради чего он звал меня...” is a euphemistic name, “любовь (love)” is associated with “treason”, “vice”, “sin”. In these contexts, the predicative attribute, which is part of the subordinate part, realizes its semantics as a result of its inclusion in the text of the complex subordinate sentence through correlation with the predicative characteristic of the main part, and then with the corresponding features of the contacting parts.

As a structural-semantic entity in the Russian literary language, the phrase name 1) has the pronominal-correlative base assigned to the carrier of the attribute feature; 2) can vary the components of the pronominal correlation; 3) predicates the attribute feature of the nomination, its correlation with the corresponding attribute of the main part of the complex sentence; 4) has a free composition (space; 5) is subjective in terms of organization of the nomination space in accordance with author’s intentions; 6) self-sufficient and pragmatically mobile, individual (Sakhno, 2018).

The unique dynamic equilibrium of the predicative (polypredicative) structure and nomination semantics determines linguo-pragmatic specificity of the phrasal name – an ability to regulate the relationship between the real, objective language picture of the world and the subjective, individual perception of denotative entities:

1) - Что же в этом страшного? Любовь всегда счастье. Если тот, кого ты любишь, также полюбит тебя – это счастье радости. Если нет, - это счастье горя. И я не знаю, которое из двух выше, прекраснее, благороднее. Второе – глубокое и острое, но первое – шире и лучезарнее…

2) Я хочу иметь и право, и все возможности любить того, кто еще мне понравится и кому я понравлюсь. Как бы ни была глубока и разнообразна любовь одного человека, он никогда не заменит того, что может дать другой.

3) Господи! Разве я виновата, если люблю и меня любят! Никогда я не требовала любви… Всем я предоставляла свободу любить меня или нет, быть мне верным или покидать меня… Я хочу свободы в любви, той свободы, о которой вы все говорите и которой не даете никому. Я хочу любить или не любить, или пусть по своей прихоти, а не по вашей…

In the first example, the concept “love” is represented in the nuclear meaning, “love” is a strong feeling that brings joy and happiness. In the second example, “to love” means “to like”. In the third example, “love” refers to sinful “freedom”, treason. The phrasal nomination is significant as a verbal means of expressing characteristics and assessments due to the potentially open space of semantics that fills the subordinate part. The author's intentions are manifested in the predication of attributes and expression of the attitude to what is named in the description-definition form (Sakhno, 2018).


The concept metamorphosis is a semantic shift in the meaning of the denotate due to acquisition of a new semantic plan which is layered on the primary one. The coexistence of several semantic characteristics within the concept make it possible to multiply interpretations of the denotate and ensures the principle of pluralism of assessments in its perception. There is a unique opportunity to see the phenomenon (object, person) in its dynamics, development, capture the altered state of the denotate which is very important for narration where subjective perception and assessment of reality dominate.


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21 January 2020

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Sakhno*, O., & Pavlovskaya, O. (2020). Metamorphosis Of The Concept "Love" And Its Lexical And Syntactic Nomination. In D. Karim-Sultanovich Bataev, S. Aidievich Gapurov, A. Dogievich Osmaev, V. Khumaidovich Akaev, L. Musaevna Idigova, M. Rukmanovich Ovhadov, A. Ruslanovich Salgiriev, & M. Muslamovna Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism, vol 76. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 2749-2756). Future Academy.