The article presents the results of the study of stereotypes about Great Britain and France in the linguistic picture of the world of Russian students. In the first part of the article, the author focuses on the fact that sustainable ideas about the structure, elements and processes of reality that exist in the minds of native speakers form a picture of the world expressed in the language, which is called the linguistic picture of the world. Stereotypes, being fixed ideas about something, form a permanent fragment of the linguistic picture of the world that exists in human consciousness. The purpose of the work is to identify and describe the system of stereotypes about Great Britain and France existing in the language picture of the world of Russian students. The main part of the article presents the results of the research. The author describes 23 revealed semantic fields reflecting the main stereotypes about Great Britain and France:
Keywords: Associate experimentFranceGreat Britainlinguistic picture of the worldstereotype
Every nation perceives the surrounding reality in its own way, it has its own method of the world conceptualization. Sustainable ideas that exist in the minds of native speakers form a conceptual picture of the world expressed in linguistic form. According to Zalevskaya ( 2003) “these ideas about the structure, elements and processes of reality reflected in the language are called the linguistic picture of the world” (p. 42).
Most scholars agree that the linguistic and conceptual pictures of the world correlate as part and whole, but the linguistic picture occupies a significant amount of space in the conceptual picture of the world, because with the help of the language a person gets knowledge that exceeds the amount of information coming from any other source.
The linguistic picture of the world has repeatedly been studied by scientists. Currently, this phenomenon is considered in different aspects. Thus, Jzhu ( 2017) and Isaev ( 2015) study the linguistic pictures of the world of different ethnic groups are compared; Timralieva ( 2017) and Brukvina ( 2016) conducted their researches on different language material; Kravchuk (2018) and Kim ( 2016) reconstructed various fragments of the linguistic picture of the world.
Maslova ( 2001) claims, that in every society, there are some stereotypical views - both about themselves and about the behavior within their own cultural space, as well as in relation to representatives of another linguistic and cultural space.
A stereotype functions primarily in the cognitive sphere and it is determined by the knowledge possessed by the cultural community. Stereotypes are formed in any area of human knowledge, playing an important role in the regulation of social behavior. Moreover, the stereotyping mechanism is aimed at streamlining and selecting the most significant pieces of information.
Sadokhin and Grushevitskaya ( 2000) believe, that using stereotypes, the accumulated information is presented not only as a sum of useful knowledge, but as experience organized in a certain way, which due to its structuredness can be passed on to next generations.
In this paper we use the term stereotype after Krasnykh ( 2002) a permanent fragment of the picture of the world that exists in human consciousness. This is an established way of judgments about the world, a definite permanent, mental picture, an idea of a subject or a situation due to cultural identity.
According to Bartminsky ( 2009), there is a complex system of stereotypes in the minds of native speakers, the overwhelming majority of which are not directly connected with public life: “For a linguist, stereotyping covers the whole picture of the world, both the image of things and the image of a person” (p. 13). However, probably, not all concepts can be the basis for creating stereotypes, but only those, which include social components that designate objects or phenomena of the surrounding reality, are socially significant for a native speaker. Petrova ( 2013) argues that “Not everything is fixed in the language, but only phenomena and objects that are active for a person and his life, and what is relevant for one people may not be relevant for another” (p. 158).
Biktagirova ( 2017) says, stereotypes are assimilated in childhood under the influence of the cultural and linguistic environment in which an individual is brought up and change very slowly, although they inevitably distort the reality that they reflect. One of the reasons is a lack of information, since in this case the opinion is formed under the influence of society, due to the media and in the learning process.
We believe it is interesting to identify stereotypes that exist in the linguistic picture of the world of philology students at the initial stage of their study at the university, because later in the course of studying their cultural competence will be improved. This is facilitated not only by language they learn, but also by the training course on intercultural communication, which was included in university curricula relatively recently, but, as Chernyak ( 2015), Valeeva and Valeeva ( 2017) claim, students and teachers have already appreciated its contribution to formation of Russian students’ cultural literacy.
It is noteworthy that in different countries, intercultural communication is studied not only by students of linguistic universities, but also by students of other specialties who, by the nature of their activities, encounter people from other cultures, as Chen, Jensen, Measom, and Nichols ( 2018).
Stereotypes about Great Britain and France make up a certain fragment of the language picture of the world of Russian students. To reconstruct this fragment, it is necessary to identify the main stereotypes. To conduct the research, we should solve the following tasks:
to develop a stimulus material - questionnaires for the experiment;
to conduct an association experiment and process reactions;
to reveal the main stereotypes about Great Britain in the language picture of the world of Russian students;
to reveal the main stereotypes about France in the language picture of the world of Russian students;
to find out what spheres of life they concern;
to find the most frequently mentioned reactions;
to see if such factors as gender, first /second foreign language, visit to the country have any impact on the associations.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to identify and describe the system of stereotypes about Great Britain and France that exist in the language picture of the world of Russian students.
In this study we used psycholinguistic association experiment to obtain the linguistic material; to process the material we used component and field analyzes and statistical techniques, described by Moskvin ( 2017).
Due to the psychological nature of the language picture of the world, researchers of this phenomenon use psycholinguistic association experiment. An association experiment is a technique aimed at identifying associations that have developed in an individual in his previous experience. When conducting a free association experiment, a person under test is asked to respond with a reaction word that first occurred upon presentation of the stimulus word without limiting in any way either the formal or semantic features of the reaction word. The type of associations that occur, the frequency of similar associations is recorded. Titscher, Meyer, Wodak, and Vetter ( 2017) consider the final product of the experiment to be a set of associations, which are ranked by degree of frequency.
Association is a dual process, because according to Shepherd and Marshall ( 2018), “on the one hand, by associating, an individual reproduces personal experience, on the other, repetitive typical, i.e. language and social experience” (p. 9). Consequently, on the basis of the analysis of associations that arise among informants, one can speak not only about the individual features of the perception of reality, but also about the social nature of the reactions. In our case, we are talking about a set of stereotypical reactions that reflect the ideas of France and Great Britain, which are in the minds of students.
At the first stage of our work, we developed a stimulus material - a questionnaire for the experiment. The questionnaire included the following items, mandatory for each participant: age, gender, 1st and 2nd languages studied, visit the countries under study. We assumed that these indicators would have an impact on the characteristics of the reactions and will allow to reveal the subjective opinions of informants formed on the basis of personal experience. Participants were asked to give five reactions to the words “Great Britain” and “France”.
The experiment was conducted in the framework of the course “Introduction to the theory of intercultural communication”. Students of Orenburg State University, aged 18 to 19 years, studying English and French took part in the experiment.
It is believed that the nature of associations is influenced by many factors: age, gender, person's profession, etc. Before the experiment, we assumed that the personal experience of visiting a stimulus country should undoubtedly influence the responses of the informant, making them more subjective. However, the number of students who have been to the UK is only 11% of the total, while the overwhelming 89% of the participants have never visited this country. In France, there were only 15% of the informants, i.e. the information that they possess is not obtained through personal experience, but in the process of learning or through the media.
We used the information system of graphosemantic modeling Semograph, designed by a group of scientists headed by Belousov, Zelyanskaya, and Baranov ( 2012) to process the material. It is “designed to extract knowledge about subject areas from information arrays, including textual samples, metadata, semantic components and semantic fields, frequency, language and thesaurus dictionaries” (Semograph). It made it possible to carry out component and field analyzes more effectively.
We have created two independent projects, each of which was dedicated to one country: Great Britain or France. Each project included all reactions received for the stimulus word and information about each informant. Each reaction was considered as a separate component. Then, using the field analysis method, described by Moskvin ( 2017), in each project we grouped all the components (355 in the project “Great Britain” and 338 in the project “France”) into 23 semantic fields. In both projects, the list of fields is the same, as this will allow to obtain reliable results, which can then be compared. However, the size of the fields is different.
It’s necessary to note that the same component can be included in several semantic fields. For example, the reaction
Thus, the reaction
The size of the fields in the table is indicated in percent. This figure indicates what proportion of the total number of reactions (in each project this number is different) is the size of a particular field.Fields are presented in order of decreasing size.
Information system “Semograph” allows to create as many sets of components as necessary for the study on the basis of additional data (in our case: gender, first foreign language, visit to the country). In each project, we created 4 active component sets based on a) first language (English / French), b) gender (male / female), c) visit, d) accounting for all data. Within each set, an analysis of the frequency of the fields and components was carried out. It allowed to isolate the fields of the greatest volume that had overcome the threshold of significance (the volume of the field is larger than average). The names of such fields are highlighted in bold in the table.
The arithmetic average value is “the value obtained by adding all the members of a number series and dividing the sum by the number of members” ( Moskvin, 2017, 43). According to Moskvin (2017, 45), “it shows the probability of an event”. In our case, it can be interpreted in the following way - those fields the size of which is larger than average is more typical for this audience, whereas those whose size is below the average can be considered single, subjective, and, therefore, random.
In both projects the field with the largest number of components is
In the project “France”,
In the project “France”, the field
In third place in the project “Great Britain” there is the field
In this project, the field Cuisine is in the 3rd place: such reactions as
In both projects, the field People is significant. It consists of the names of the famous British (James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, Elizabeth II, Harry Potter, JK Rowling, Arthur Conan Doyle, Kate Middleton) / French (Edith Piaf, Sophie Marceau, Jean Reno, Gerard de Pardier, Napoleon), generalized concepts related to Great Britain (queen, British, guardians) and France (Arabs, blacks, handsome French).
It is noteworthy that the most frequent reaction in this group is
In the English Oxford living Dictionaries (English Oxford living Dictionaries online, n.d.), culture is interpreted as “The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively”. The field “Culture” turned out to be significant in both projects. It includes reactions related to painting, literature, music, cinema, British television (
The name of the semantic field
In the project “Britain”, the field
There are several semantic fields that have a certain size in one project, while in the other they have empty content. Thus, the semantic field
So, the field
The students do not associate France with
So, we considered the concept of a linguistic picture of the world, which means ideas about the structure, elements and processes of reality reflected in the language. Stereotypes, being fixed ideas about something, are a permanent fragment of the linguistic pictures of the world that exists in human consciousness.
The main purpose of this paper was to identify and present the system of stereotypes existing in the language picture of the world of Russian student. The corpus of reactions consisted of 355 (stimulus word Great Britain) and 338 (stimulus word France) answers. We revealed 23 semantic fields that reflect the main stereotypes about these countries:
It was determined what position in the structure of each fragment of the linguistic picture of the world these semantic fields occupy. It was found that the fields
Semantic fields Animals, Characteristics, Fashion and Cosmetics, Transport, Realities of other countries, Other countries, Sport, Flag, Language (French), Weather, Education and Science, Finance, Color consist of sporadic, subjective reactions, i.e. not typical for students of Russian universities.
The hypothesis that such personal data of informants as gender, age, first / second foreign language will cause a significant difference in the reactions was not confirmed. Most of the associations were typical, common to many participants.
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20 April 2020
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Discourse analysis, translation, linguistics, interpretation, cognition, cognitive psychology
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Lasitsa, L. A. (2020). Stereotypes Of Russian Students About Great Britain And France. In A. Pavlova (Ed.), Philological Readings, vol 83. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 261-270). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2020.04.02.29