Peculiarities Of Functional Interaction Between Russian Linguistic Means Of Different Levels


The paper presents an attempt to describe improper purpose constructions in the Russian language on the foundation of functional approach to inter-level interaction between linguistic units, involving logical and pragmatic components of compositional analysis of linguistic material. Сonstructions under consideration require detailed analysis of relevant aspect-related, temporal and pragmatic characteristics. Analysis of such structures is more practical through lens of functional grammar that assumes emphasis on communicative-pragmatic aspect of language. Modern linguistic is characterized with a renewed interest to the functional aspect of language, as moving functional significance of current linguistic processes to the forefront determines revealing their essential properties. The functional approach to linguistic phenomena brings to the front the mobility of all linguistic model elements and relation between them, interdependence of aspects and vehicles. Such approach to studying syntactic constructions allows extensively using capabilities of hidden grammar and lexical content of utterances. The structures under consideration show deviation from their prototypic variants as a typical conjunction of purpose in some contexts is capable of conveying non-purpose relations between parts of an utterance. Taking into consideration the logical rule of sufficient foundation, as well as using expression of one and the same semantic attribute of counter-factual nature, improper purpose statements may be divided into three groups: with the meaning of insufficient quality or quantity, excessive quality or quantity and with the meaning of substitution. Description of linguistic material was done with analysis of structural-semantic peculiarities, aspect-temporal characteristic and pragmatic foundations with the aim of revealing their inter-relations.

Keywords: False purpose constructionsaspectualitytemporalitypragmatics


The problem of expressing predicament relations with linguistic means necessitates that a linguist turns their attention not only to proper linguistic methods of their manifestation, but also to logical structures that order cogitative content as a propositional foundation of an utterance, and to pragmatic factors that form relations characterized with modality (Orkina, 2010). Functional-semantic field of predicament is a two-part (content and form) unity, which is formed from interaction of grammatical (morphological and syntactic) means of a given language with lexical, lexical-grammatical and word formation elements related to the same semantic zone. According to Bondarko's (2002) definition, it is “a group of means pertaining to different levels of a given language, interacting on the basis of community of their semantic functions expressing variants of a certain semantic category” (p. 77).

Logical rule of sufficient foundation is an integrating origin that forms the predicament sphere in the general sense. That is why, the whole circle of predicament-related meanings appears as an integral whole, as it “supposes such a relation between the situations, where one is a sufficient condition for actualization of another” (Russian Grammar, 1980, p. 514). A certain semantic situation may be seen as a determining or being determined only within the framework of the two-part predicament structures. For example, in utterances containing goal-setting predicament relations a certain situation (e.g., Чтобы тебе доверять, to trust you ) is combined with another situation (e.g., , Я слишком мало тебя знаю , I know too little of you) and within the framework of the macrosituation it obtains a specific “determining-determined “ meaning ( Я слишком мало тебя знаю, чтобы доверять ; I know too little of you to trust you; Чтобы доверять is a determined situation, Я слишком мало тебя знаю is a determining one), which it does not have outside of this macrosituation. Forms and methods to express predicament relations are thus characterized with a semantic two-part structure, determining nature of the relation between the component micro-situation in the predicament macro-situation that manifests as a presence of a certain mediating situation thanks to which the two micro-situations happen to be integrated into a single structure (Evtiukhin, 1997).

Problem Statement

Timeliness of this research is determined by the fact that analysis of pragmatic, logical, modal, aspectual and temporal features of semantics allows for a multi-aspect systemic approach in analysis of syntactic structures of a certain language. Representation of language as a system, necessity of integral understanding of linguistic facts allowed identifying textual distinction of utterances with improper purpose semantic in the Russian language, their essential regularities, structural capabilities and peculiarities of functioning.

Research Questions

Improper purpose utterances, which appear as syntactically-bound constructions with nonspecific linkers represent a special form of representation of predicament relations in the Russian language. The main clause of such structures contains a reference to a lack of sufficient justification to proceed with the actions named in the subordinate clause. Thus, the main tasks of this research the authors see as a necessity to identify morphological, syntactic and lexical means, as well as logical and pragmatic relations that form structural-semantic complexes and substantiating their inclusion into the functional-semantic field of predicament. Analysis of interactions between these linguistic means of different levels will allow demonstrating the complex approach to studying syntactic constructions of the Russian language.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to show the features of functional interaction between linguistic means of different levels of the Russian language as exemplified by improper purpose constructions.

Research Methods

During the research the authors employed descriptive-analytical, and contextual-logical methods, as well as elements of transformational and context analysis.


Syntactic structures with predicament relations of purpose are structurally different from their prototypical variants, which undoubtedly sparks special interest, especially from the positions of functional-semantic description. For example: Ты слишком всего боишься, чтобы брать тебя с собой в такое далекое путешествие (You are too afraid of everything for me to take you with me in such a long journey, L. Andreev, A Present ); Я вам не врач, чтобы диагнозы ставить (I am not a doctor to provide you with diagnoses, A.Gaidar, School ); Эта истина не настолько проста, чтобы говорить о ней (This truth is not as simple to talk about it. Grosman V. Life and Fate). In such syntactically-bound constructions, a typical conjunction of purpose chtoby ( чтобы ) conveys an improper purpose relation, as proper purpose utterances express direct dependence of a phenomenon on its desirable consequence. From the point of view of traditional grammar, such syntactic structures are complex sentences with subordinate clause of measure and degree. From the point of view of functional grammar, they are utterances based on the logical structure of strict implication that implement a certain logical operation when two clauses are merged into one complex utterance with the help of a logical linker (If А, then В).

Beloshapkova (2008) while analyzing similar constructions notes that by the nature of their value, the quantifiers in their main part may be divided into three groups: “1) words with the meaning of measure: little, much, enough, etc. (when the measured object is named); 2) word with the meaning of too much , that determines some words with the qualitative-characterizing meaning; 3) words like sufficient , which may mean either measure or degree” (p. 109). Not to take anything away from the classification suggested by the linguist, we deem it is practical to account for principles of logical rule of sufficient foundation and divide such utterances into two groups: 1) with the meaning of insufficient degree of quality and quantitative measure (constructions following the models of не так / не такой / не настолько / не до такой степени…чтобы ); 2) with the meaning of excessive degree of quality and quantitative measure (constructions following the model of слишком / чересчур…чтобы ). Analysis of semantics in improper purpose constructions allowed identifying a common meaning of impossibility/undesirability of the action noted with the dependent clause. The same semantic attribute we may see in constructions of substitution following the model вместо того чтобы… , for instance: Вместо того чтобы каждый вечер смотреть эти бесконечные сериалы, читали бы побольше книг ( Instead of watching these endless series every evening, you'd better read more books; Вместо того чтоб сконцентрировать свои силы, Потоцкий разбил их на мелкие отряды (Instead of concentrating his forces, Potocki divided them into small parties. Valishevskii K. First Romanovs).

Consequently, on the basis of expressing the same semantic attribute of counter-factuality, the utterances with the goal-setting relations that implement actualization of typical structural models of the чтобы conjunction in a meaning different from that of purpose may be divided into three groups.

The authors conducted the analysis of structural-semantic features of these utterances on the assumption of part-of-speech affiliation of words that are typically combined with the stable components of the main clause of the construction. For example, the stable component слишком (exceedingly) in utterances with the meaning of excessive degree of quality and quantitative measure are most often combined with verbs that have a meaning of physical, psychical, emotional state ( скучать (miss), устать (be tired), кричать(scream), ругаться (swear), ценить (value), испугаться (get afraid), уважать (respect), etc.), as well as the verbs with actional characteristic of emphasis ( разболтаться (to forget oneself in chattering), разворчаться (to grumble a lot), etc.) and excessive intensity ( засидеться, заболтаться, заговориться (to sit, chat, talk for too long), etc.). For example. That evening he was very much annoyed, and I was too afraid to explain anything (Zaitsev B.K. Far Away Land); Мы слишком засиделись у вас, чтобы еще чай пить (We overstayed with you enough, so we are not going to have any tea. From recording of informal speech). Adverbs of quantity or quality ( много (many, much), мало (little), часто (often), редко (rarely), плохо (bad), рано (early), красиво (beautifully), хорошо (well), долго (for long) , etc.) are also quite frequent, as are corresponding qualitative adjectives in long or short form. For example. Слишком обоснованно он его защищал, чтобы усомниться (He defended him too reasonably to have any doubts. Fadeev A. The Young Guard); Слишком красиво он говорил, чтобы поверить в его слова (He spoke too beautifully to believe in his words. Simonov K. The Living and the Dead); Отвороты карманов пиджака слишком мягкие, чтобы можно было повесить медали (Lapels of the jacket are too soft to hold medals. Tolstoy A.N. Peter the First); А фамилия моя слишком известная, чтобы я ее называл (My surname is too well-known for me to say it out loud. Ilf I. and Petrov E. Twelve Chairs); Я был слишком горд, чтобы идти по его следам, и слишком молод и несамостоятелен, чтобы избрать новую дорогу (I was too proud to follow into his steps and too young and dependent to choose a new road. Tolstoy L.N. Childhood. Boyhood. Youth). It may be noted that the слишком lexeme usually takes the contact prepositional place with respect to the defined word, while in the initial position in the construction it conveys the meaning of excess to all the situation in the prepositional part. Nouns are the least often to be seen with the слишком component, which is explained by their categorial meaning of objectification: Он еще слишком ребенок, чтобы завязывать серьезные отношения (He is still too much of a child to bond seriously. Kataev V. Small Iron Door in the Wall); Я слишком врач, чтобы в такой серьезной ситуации отказаться от этого больного только из-за отсутствия у него денег на операцию (I am too much of a doctor to reject this patient in such a serious situation for the only reason of him not being able to pay for the surgery. Recording of an informal conversation). In these examples, the speaker emphasizes the connotative component of the meaning of the noun used (child – little, doctor – professional, decent, honest, committed to the Hippocratic oath), and then the noun denotes not as much the object (subject), as its attributes.

Frequency of nouns and adjectives with the stable component не такой (not like) in utterances with the meaning of insufficient degree of quality and quantitative measure is due to the semantics of the pronoun itself. At that, the authors’ observations allows for identification of two types of construction in this model: with the logical emphasis on the такой pronoun and with the logical emphasis on its neighboring component (when the pronouns performs only emphatic-separating function). Cf.: Не такой это случай, чтобы завязались какие-нибудь глубокие личные отношения (It is not an occassion to start any deep personal relations. Prishvin M. Phacelia); Я не такой упрямый ; чтобы не признать свою неправоту и продолжать настаивать на своем (I am not that stubborn to reject eating the humble pie and stick to my guns. Belov V. Business as Usual); Ну, противник, поди, не [такой] дурак, чтобы этакую тайну не угадать (Well, I think the opponent in not that of a fool to miss this secret. Zalygin S. Salt Valley). Thus, in this model there are regular structures with missing такой , for example: И я, – говорю, – не лошадь, чтоб меня обмывать (So, I say, I am not a horse to be washed. Zoshchenko M. Clinical Record); Что это за фатовство? Вы не барышня, чтобы носить золотой браслет (What kind of dandyism is this? You are not a young lady to wear a gold bracelet. Kataev. V. The Grass of Oblivion).

A verb is undoubtedly mandatory in combination with the вместо того чтобы stable component (instead of) as a main part of the dependent clause with the meaning of substitution. For example. Вместо того чтобы вызывать жалость к себе, постарайся изменить взгляд на жизнь ( Instead of exciting pity to yourself, try change your view of life. Kazakov Iu. Blue and Green); Вместо того чтобы решить вопрос, они ветерана вынуждают ходить по различным инстанциям ( Instead of resolving the issue, they are pushing the veteran from Billy to Jack. Izvestia).

Aspectual-temporal characteristic of the improper purpose constructions was formed by analysis of verbal forms functioning in the main and dependent clauses. For example, the dependent clause in the sentences following the слишком…, чтобы model more often included an imperfective verb (IP) in a situation of generalized fact with its meaning being “a general reference to the very fact of presence or absence of an action”, “transmission of the most generalized (non-specific) information about the action” (Bondarko, 2002). For example. Она слишком погрузилась в свои мысли, чтобы привередничать (She has become too lost in her thoughts to be choosy . And Snow Is Falling (film)); Слишком поздно, чтобы прощать (It is too late to forgive . Dudintsev V.D. The White Robes); Моя жизнь слишком дорога, чтобы ездить на чем-то другом (My life is too precious to drive anything else. From a TV commercial for a car). The meaning of a generalized fact is related to a certain circle of verbal vocabulary. Verbs of specific physical action are usually used in this sense: Приводить (bring), заходить (come in), брать (take), нападать (attack), давать (give), поджигать (ignite), поить (give to drink), пропускать (let pass), etc; verbs of speech: Говорить (talk), беседовать (converse), докладывать (report), спрашивать (ask), называть(name), хвалить (praise), etc.; verbs of perception: слушать (listen), видеть (see), etc.

The perfective form (P) usually appear in this model in a situation of repeated action and denotes a fact that may materialize in any moment. Here we may see a particular meaning of perfective aspect – potential, conveying the way of portraying constantly possible though singular (Bondarko, 2002). For example. Он отметил, что одни только юридические действия – слишком слабое орудие, чтобы предотвратить будущие войны (He noted that exclusively legal actions are too weak of a tool to prevent future wars. Raginskii M. Nuremberg: Before the Court of History); Я слишком больна и слаба, чтобы встать с постели (I am too ill and weak to leave my bed. Tolstoy A.N. The Ordeal).

The dependent clause of such constructions is usually a mononuclear sentence or an infinitive sentence. One of the main functions of infinitive as a verbal form is an abstract representation of an action. This property of infinitive is inextricably linked to the generalized-factual function of the imperfective form. The imperfective form in opposition to the perfective form is devoid of attribute and in its generalized-factual function conveys only the information on the very existence of the action (happened or did not happen). Such capability of the imperfective form for simple nomination of action is very harmonically actualized in the form of infinitive, the most acceptable and logical for generalized-nominative variety of the generalized-factual situation. Modal attributes of this type of utterances are also linked to the infinitive form: on the one hand, the infinitive itself is capable of conveying a wide range of modal meanings, on the other hand, this form may combine with a wide range of modal words (Guiraud-Weber, 1986). For example. Павел слишком самовлюбленный, чтобы уметь подводить какие-то итоги (Pavel is too egoistical to be capable of drawing any conclusions. Moskovskii Komsomolets. – 2018. – no. 17); В каждом из нас слишком много винтов, колес и клапанов, чтобы можно было судить друг о друге по первому впечатлению или по двум-трем признакам (Every one of us has too many bolts, wheels and valves to be capable of judging each other on the basis of the first impression or from a couple of attributes. Chekhov A.P. About Love). In such a context (in combination with modal words), an imperfective infinitive actualizes its frequency potential-quality meaning (for naming of an action possible in any moment of time).

Infinitive in the dependent clause of the constructions in question usually designates an action that did not happen but is only possible, desirable, which may be emphasized by use of words with modal semantics: Слишком он кричал, чтобы можно было поверить в его искренность (He screamed too much for his sincerity to be believable) = Если бы он так не кричал, то можно было бы поверить в его искренность (If he had not screamed that much, his sincerity would have been believable) (Danilova, 2011). Infinitive usually relates the action to a certain temporal plane (to the real modality). That is, in the utterances being analyzed here, infinitive of a verb in a combination with бы particle, which is already included in the чтобы conjunction, serves to express the meaning of desirability, possibility, potentiality, namely, meaning of the mood of irreality – optative. The form of the verb in combination with the бы particle as a part of the чтобы conjunction expresses the meaning of irreal, conjunctive mood. The common meaning of forms of both conjunctive mood and optative lies in the semantics of conjectured, hypothetical nature of the action.

Aspectual characteristic of the verbal forms is intertwined with their temporal characteristic. While the infinitive is indifferent to the category of tense, however, hypothetically possible action expressed with an infinitive may be included into the plane of present or past tense (less often – future), which is possible by means of lexical content of the main clause. The starting point is the speech act of the speaker. Present tense may be represented by any of its two varieties: in present non-actual – non-localized time, e.g.: Не мели чепухи. Ты слишком молода, чтобы принимать столь ответственные решения (Don't talk through the back of your neck. You are too young to make such big decisions. Abramov F.A. Brothers and Sisters); Она слишком умна, чтобы обижаться на эту глупую шутку (She is too clever to be offended at this stupid joke. Caravan of Stories. – 2017. – no. 4); less often – in present actual with adverbs and adverbial collocations with temporal meaning ( сейчас (now), сегодня (today)), e.g.: Мы все сейчас слишком возбуждены, чтобы спорить по пустякам ( Now we are too excited to split hairs. Dontsova D. Riding the Titanic); Ты сегодня слишком уставший, чтобы загружать тебя моими проблемами ( Today you are too tired to unload my problems onto you. The Others TV series). When the main clause refers to the plane of the past, the IP verb conveys the meaning of a generalized fact, neutral with respect to the attribute of localization (specificity) / non-locality (abstractness) of the action. For example: Она очень много работала, но все же зарабатывала слишком мало, чтобы угнаться за ценами (She worked hard, but still earned too little to keep up with the prices. Liza. – 2018. – no. 9); Раньше он слишком дорожил своей репутацией, чтобы фиксировать изменения от недели к неделе (Before that he valued his reputation too much to record changes on a weekly basis. Grossman V. Life and Fate). The past perfect manifests the perfective meaning that assumes a two-fold temporal reference: the action itself pertains to a preceding temporal plane, while its result pertains to the subsequent temporal plane. For example. Катерина слишком испугалась, чтобы здраво рассуждать (Katerina was too afraid to be reasonable. Vishnevskii Ia. L. Loneliness Online); Он слишком устал, чтобы обращать внимание на такие мелочи (He is too tired to pay attention to such trinkets. Tolstoy L.N. Resurrection). Thus, hypothetic modality of the dependent clause and grammatical characteristic of infinitive in it is included into the temporal plane of the main clause (Danilova, Plotnikova, & Iurkina, 2018).

As it has already been noted, the constructions in question show a shift away from the prototypic understanding of purpose, which is explained by putting the idea of goal-setting into a complex modal frame. According to the context condition, they involve neutralization of the proper purpose meaning (Russian Grammar, 1980). Thus, semantic structure of the improper purpose constructions is based upon pragmatic presuppositions, which determined the subsequent analysis of their pragmatic foundations . The pragmatic components of such utterances are formed by a type of evaluation provided by the speaker to a subject/object being described or to a situation as a whole. This evaluation is usually provided from speaker's concept of a correlation with the norm, usual, standard circumstances. Speaking of concept of norm, Nikolaeva (2013) identifies three main components: “1) attitude to the way things are done; 2) attitude to the concept of due; 3) attitude to a value system” (p. 90). Leisi (1978) distinguishes specific norm (a parametric standard), norm of proportion (a ratio between parameters of an object or those of space), expected norm (comparison between actual and expected/usual), situational norm (conformance of object's dimensions to the requirements of the situation). In the utterances in question, there are usually evaluation of a subject/object or evaluation of a situation (occasional norm). It should be noted that in the Russian language non-conformity to the norm in the position of predicate is usually expressed with short-form adjectives.

The evaluation is provided from the significance of goals set by the speaker. In the main clause of the construction that contains evaluation of a subject/object, there is a reference to certain qualities of the subject that in the speaker's mind represent a deviation from the norm (either in a given situation or in the general sense) and are causing impossibility of performing certain action with respect to this subject / object or by the subject themselves (Danilova, 2011). For example: Он слишком умный, чтобы говорить с тобой о таких пустяках (He is too smart to talk to you about such triffles. Shukshin V. Volodia the Doctor); Я слишком молод, чтобы петь грустные песни (I am too young to sing sad songs. From a song); Вещица эта слишком дорогая, чтобы принимать ее в качестве подарка от еще не очень хорошо знакомого тебе человека (This little thing is too expensive to take it as a gift from a person that you do not know well yet. Liza. – 2017. – no. 9); Не обращай внимания, пусть молчит. Не такой он человек, чтобы показывать свои эмоции (Pay no attention, let him keep silence. He is not that kind of a person to show his emotions. Aleksin A. Diary of a Bridegroom).

In utterances that contain evaluation of a situation, the main clause names such circumstances of a certain action that are characterized as not conforming to those standard conditions in which this action is usually actualized, for example: На тот момент все было слишком хорошо, чтобы снова заводить этот неприятный обоим разговор (During that moment everything was too good to return to that talk, tought to both of them. Alekseev M.N. Cherry whirlpool); Сейчас не такое время, чтобы сидеть сложа руки (Now it is not a time to twirl thumbs. Prishvin M.M. In the Land of Tame Birds); Не та была обстановка, чтобы сказать «нет», когда тебе приказывают (The situation was wrong to say no when being ordered. Ostrovsky N.A. How the Steel Was Tempered); Не тот случай, чтобы выбирать (It is not a case to choose. Tolstoy A.N. Flood Gullies).

So, an important part of the semantic structure of the improper purpose utterances is a certain type of pragmatic component “determined by the nature of speaker's evaluation of another person's action or situation as a whole with respect to their conformance to the norm, to preset canons” (Orkina, 2010). As a result of the analysis, the authors identified regular pragmatic foundations of the structures in question. For example, there is a typical pragmatic type of “judgment / reproach / discontent”, e.g.: Ты слишком часто начал позволять себе подобные выходки, чтобы прощать тебя в очередной раз (You have become too free with such antics to be forgiven another time. Aleksin A. Sasha and Shura); Слишком многим он занимался, чтобы какая-либо основная мысль могла руководить его делом (He participated in too many things to let one main thought to lead his deed. Simonov K. The Living and The Dead); Не такой ты и герой, чтобы все тобой гордились (You are not such a hero that others have to be proud of you. Kazakov Iu. Blue and Green); Пока не то время, чтобы проводить следствие (It is not the time yet to conduct investigation. Gogol N. Nose); А я ему не пень подколодный, чтоб на меня садиться да меня же чем попадя обзывать (I am not a stump of his, so that he can sit on me and call me names after that. Rasputin V. Farewell to Matera.); Он же, вместо того чтоб пресечь зло в самом корне, только благосклонно хлопал глазами (He, however, instead of nipping the evon in the bud, just blinked dumbly and mercifully. Saltykov-Shchedrin M. Raven the Petitioner.); Вместо того чтоб работать, они развлекаются здесь ( Instead of working, they are having fun here. Recording of informal speech); pragmatic type of “regret / commiseration”, e.g.: Он был слишком молод и неопытен, чтобы заметить, в какую западню его заманили (He was too young and inexperienced to notice what kind of trap he was led into. Gorky M. Life of Klim Samgin); Ой, пропадет! Жалко, пропадет! Не такой мальчик, чтоб с его порывами он усидел в университете ( Oh dear, he's going to perish! It's a pity, but he's going to. He is not a kind of boy to sit still in university, with his outbursts. Tolstoy. L. Childhood. Boyhood. Youth); Не настолько много он еще повидал в жизни, чтобы мог справиться в одиночку с таким горем (He has not seen that much in his life to overcome such a grief alone. Abramov F. Pelageia); pragmatic type “anxiety / warning / advice», e.g.: Не день уже, чтоб одной, без сопровождающих по темным закоулкам ходить (It is no longer daytime to walk through dark alleyways alone. Bulgakov M. Days of the Turbins); Вместо того чтобы грызть себя и обвинять во всех грехах, лучше подумай, чего тебе не хватило для успеха ( Instead of eating your heart out and demonizing yourself, you’d better think what had you missed for success. Shukshin V.I. Believe!).


Thus, the analysis of syntactically-linked constructions with the чтобы conjunction allowed observing feature of interaction between semantic categories and linguistic units of different levels on the basis of grammar of functional-semantic fields. Analysis of inter-categorial (modal, temporal, aspectual) linguistic relations that involved logical and pragmatic characteristics, taking into account their structural-semantic features represents a complex approach to studying the improper purpose constructions and may serve as a pattern for similar scientific endeavors.


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21 January 2020

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Future Academy



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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, science, technology, society

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Danilova*, L., Iurkina, T., Pastukhova, L., & Iakushina, Z. (2020). Peculiarities Of Functional Interaction Between Russian Linguistic Means Of Different Levels. 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. 643-651). Future Academy.