Conceptosphere Of Yu. Lotman's Academic Linguistic Personality


The article considers new perspectives for research into the phenomenon of linguistic personality conditioned by addressing to the description of the key linguistic and cultural concepts of a linguistic personality's concept sphere. From this angle, a particular theoretical and practical importance is attributed to concepts represented in culture-oriented texts. Due to the personality of the author whose professional activities are intimately related with academic discourse texts of this kind possess a high potential of influence on the reader. Linguocultural and linguocognitive text analyses allow to demonstrate the concept sphere of Yu. Lotman (1922–1993) as an academic linguistic personality, an undeniable bearer of the elite type of speech culture. Thus, the concept sphere of the scholar and the discourse of his "Conversations about Russian culture: Household and traditions of Russian noblemen (XVIII - early XIX century)" reflect panhuman ("Life", "Death", "Culture" et al.), nationally oriented ("Rank ", "Russia, Russian People" et al.) and individual ("Europe", "Pushkin") concepts. Active appealing to intertextuality and precedence integrated into text in a variety of ways is a common feature of the representation of the author's key concepts. Yu. Lotman’s personal attitude to cultural facts expressed in conceptualization of particular proper nouns and his strive to bring this attitude to the reader should be acknowledged as one of Yu. Lotman’s linaments as an academic linguistic personality.

Keywords: Linguoculturologylinguistic personalityacademic linguistic personalitydiscourseconceptconcept sphere


Our research, with the results given in this article, represents the example of realization of the integrated approach in anthropocentric oriented description of language. We offer studying of the linguistic personality of the concrete language speaker based on research vocabulary, methods and approaches developed in terms of modern perspective directions in the Russian linguistic science.

Problem Statement

The relevance of the research is based on a high interest of modern linguists in solving a wide range of issues related to studying human in different contexts: as a language speaker, as a product of a concrete linguocultural situation, as a bearer of cultural values and their transmitter to the future generations ( Khayrullina & Fatkullina, 2017). Theoretical importance of our academic paper relies on contribution to typologies of linguistic personalities suggested by other scholars, e.g. those built on criteria of speech culture mastery (O. Sirotinina, I. Sternin), realized in the discourses of different types ( Karasik, 2016) et al. The practical importance of the research is built on predicting and studying the possibilities of influence of the author's linguistic personality on potential reader.

Research Questions

The key point of the research is to offer possible approaches of studying the concept sphere of a concrete language speaker ( Melnik et al., 2016) whose self-fulfilment in professional discourse receives high appreciation and praise in the national linguocultural community.

Understanding the concept sphere in its linguocultural meaning suggested by Likhachev ( 1993) and supported by Stepanov ( 2004), Vorobiev ( 2019) and other scholars, was the determinative for our research. From this point of view, a concept as a basic research unit is understood as a volumetric mental construct related to a specific valuable cultural fact. The ability to reveal such a fact and acknowledge it as a concept allows to identify a language speaker as a representative of national culture ( Bubnova, Zykova, Krasnyh, & Ufimceva, 2017, p. 171).

The present study is focused on academic linguistic personality related to academic discourse in the framework of which this personality becomes an iconic, symbolic figure for both domestic and world philology. This linguistic personality, as shown through our observations, is worth being called elitarian, i.e. bearer of the elite speech culture ( Fatkullina et al., 2019). Such linguistic personality is characterized by the ability to produce texts addressed to readers of different levels of speech culture. A distinctive feature of the linguistic personality that we are studying is the ability to create texts about culture that have a high level of impact on the reader. We recognize that the decisive factor in the formation of this linguistic personality was its belonging to the scientific sphere of society, which allows us to refer it to the type of academic linguistic personalities.

The study of the concept sphere of such a linguistic personality is undoubtedly of interest for scientists for several reasons. Firstly, it expands and complements our meaning of a person as a bearer and transmitter of language and culture ( Vorobiev & Fatkullina, 2017). Secondly, it brings new meanings to existing typologies of linguistic personalities, clarifying them. Thirdly, it opens up previously unexplored opportunities for obtaining a complete understanding of linguistic abilities, speech skills, and the competence of a particular linguistic personality that has received recognition and respect in the professional environment.

In our study, the notion of concept sphere is understood in both narrow and broad terms. In its narrow terms, a concept sphere is a certain set of concepts that are key to understanding the essence of the linguistic personality studied. These concepts form a holistic system in the linguistic consciousness, a picture of the world, allowing its bearer to identify himself with other members of the national linguocultural community. In its broad sense, a concept sphere is a concept used in the linguoculturological aspect, therefore it is understood as diverse, heterogeneous knowledge of the world ( Balyasnikova, Ufimceva, Cherkasova, & Chulkina, 2018), stored in memory in a systemic or unsystematic form (depends on the organization of ways to obtain knowledge) and has a significant, linguistic nature. Such knowledge allows the native speaker to stand out from a number of similar members of the national-linguistic-cultural community, to represent himself as a unique linguistic personality.

Purpose of the Study

The aim of the study is to give a description of the features of the concept sphere of a concrete linguistic personality highlighted in the academic discourse ( Burmakina & Kulikova, 2019; Kazanceva, 2019) – Yuriy Lotman.

The object of the research is concepts that represent the concept sphere of the author as an academic linguistic personality in his texts.

The subject of the paper is language representations of the key concepts of Yu. Lotman’s concept sphere.

The research tasks are as folows:

  • to reveal the key concepts of Yu. Lotman’s conceptosphere;

  • based on the linguoculturological approach, to describe their place and role in the concept sphere of the author of the analyzed texts;

  • to give a characterization the of Yu. Lotman’s concept sphere.

Appealing to the personality and scientific heritage of Yu. Lotman (1922–1993) seems reasonable to us due to several reasons. Yu. Lotman is a philologist who gained worldwide fame due to his research in the field of literary studies, semiotics, and cultural studies. His work has a humanistic, educational character, and aimed not only at the dissemination of knowledge, but also at the formation of exquisite cultural taste in the reader. Yu. Lotman can be called one of the most brilliant popularizers of science (primarily philological) and culture (primarily domestic, Russian). His research into the works of N.M. Karamzin and A.S. Pushkin, as well as his "Conversations about Russian Culture" (in the form of a television series and printed edition) do not lose their relevance at the present time. It is noteworthy that Yu. Lotman created his works in the era preceding the emergence of linguoculturology as a science, being, as we believe, one of its ideological inspirers. It seems important that until recently the scientific heritage of Yu. Lotman was not the object of study from the point of view of the linguoculturological approach.

The material for our study is the language units extracted: a) from the texts of Yu. Lotman (research devoted to the literary study of works of Russian writers, the key issues of semiotic studies, the description of cultural processes, personal letters addressed to relatives and friends), various types of dictionaries (explanatory, encyclopedic, conceptual, linguoculturological). In the course of the research, more than 1000 units presented in various (more than 3 thousand) contexts were analyzed.

Research Methods

The methodological basis of the study was literature on the types of speech culture (O. Sirotinina, V. Goldin, I. Sternin, T. Kochetkova), works on cultural and cognitive approaches to the study of linguistic units (D. Likhachev, Yu. Stepanov, A. Vezhbitskaya, V. Vorobiev, V. Shaklein, V. Krasnykh, N. Kuzmina and others), works on the theory of linguistic personality (Yu. Karaulov, V. Vorobiev, V. Karasik, N. Melnik et al., and others).

The following main research methods were chosen: to identify the language units as concept representants, the method of continuous sampling and the method of analyzing vocabulary definitions were used, to systematize the language units and combine them into the concept the study employed component, statistical and semantic field analysis. The choice of methods and their application is preconditioned by the linguoculturological approach to achieving the goal of research and solving the tasks set in it.


The study employing the above mentioned methods used from a linguoculturological viewpoint allowed to form a visual representation of the concept sphere of Yu. Lotman.

The concept sphere of a scientist, reconstructed on the basis of analysis of the author texts is formed by concepts of three levels: universal, national and individual. In the framework of this study, more attention was paid to actualization of those concepts that characterize Yu. Lotman as an academic linguistic personality. In our understanding, this term may be applicable in the study of those native speakers who are related by their professional interests to the academic (scientific) field, are capable of full self-realization in it and transmit professional knowledge to a large audience of readers ( Hutyz, 2018) including speakers of various types and levels of speech culture.

Among the universal concepts of relevance to Yu. Lotman as an academic linguistic personality, it is necessary to distinguish macro- and microconcepts “Life”, “Death”, “Time”, “Space”, “Man”, “Culture”, “Family”, “Love” and some others.

Concepts reflecting the national specifics of Russian culture include macro- and microconcepts “Russia, Russians”, “Customs and Traditions”, “History”, “Classes”, “Chin”, etc. Similar concepts are undoubtedly represented in the concept spheres of other languages, but the cultural background of each of them is unique. In the semantics of linguistic units representing designated concepts in the concept sphere of Yu. Lotman, in most of the cases examined, a national-cultural component is found. Thus, the author’s conceptual sphere reflects the understanding of all native speakers of the Russian language and Russian culture about man’s weakness in the face of adversity, lack of ability to be responsible for his fate, his desire to recklessly depend on “luck”, “chance”, “fate”, or “maybe”: “The intricacies of real life, its irrational nature made us pin hopes on an unpredictable сase” ( Lotman, 1997, p. 156).

In our study special attention is paid to the identification, description and characterization of those concepts which gained a particularly high significance for Yu. Lotman in the process of his development as an academic linguistic personality. We suggest attributing such concepts to a group of individual concepts, the study of which, in our opinion, should be the subject of separate research. Individual concepts appeared in the conceptual sphere of Yu. Lotman due his own attitude to the facts of culture, which, in our opinion, was one of the reasons for the conceptualization of individual proper names.

Such concepts-onyms as "A. S. Pushkin", "Europe” ( Frolova, 2016), individually perceived by Yu. Lotman, contain important meanings for him as a language personality, and make him express his attitude to them in implicit and explicit forms.

As the conceptual sphere of Yu. Lotman contains individual concepts, researchers have the opportunity to get a more accurate idea of the scientist's personality (including the language aspect).

One of the most important places in the conceptual sphere of Yu. Lotman is occupied by the concept "A. S. Pushkin" ( Ichkineeva, Salimova, & Bryleva, 2019). It naturally appears in almost all texts written by Ju. Lotman.

In Lotman's language picture of the world the concept "A. S. Pushkin" appears as a voluminous mental formation with cultural semantics ( Salimova, 2019).

In the conceptual sphere of Yu. Lotman "A. S. Pushkin" has a great semantic value: in "Conversations about Russian culture " his name is in the first place among proper names in terms of frequency of use – 426 times (including, in quotations – 5 and "Alexander Sergeevich" – 1). The attitude of an ordinary member of the modern linguistic and cultural community to the poet is only respectful ( Kolesov, Kolesova, & Haritonov, 2014, p. 143), whereas Lotman's perception of Pushkin is much deeper.

This becomes obvious when considering the ways of representing the concept "A. S. Pushkin" in the conceptual sphere of Yu. M. Lotman on the example of the texts written by him.

In the conceptual sphere of Yu. Lotman, A. S. Pushkin appears as a great Russian poet, as a witness of the era of interest to the scientist, and as an ordinary person with whose opinion one can polemize: "Pushkin's words are unfair and polemically irritable, but they have one truth..." ( Lotman, 1997, p. 258). Analysis of Yu. Lotman's texts shows that he systematically refers to the concept "A. S. Pushkin" in his own professional activity and personal life. For example, “Conversations about Russian culture” mentions 35 texts belonging to Pushkin explicit and implicit forms ("Eugene Onegin" – 21, "Queen of spades" – 15, "Roslavlev" – 9, "Bacchanalian song" – 7, "Roman in letters" – 6, etc.). The scientist includes the names of 34 Pushkin's heroes in the academic discourse, among whom Onegin, Lensky, Tatyana Larina, Zaretsky and Hermann have the highest frequency.

The concept "Europe" is the other concept which has the same significance in the conceptual sphere of Yu. Lotman. Thus, a retrospective view of Europe – past and modern is revealed in the "Conversations about Russian culture", which most clearly reflect the features of the conceptual sphere of Yu. Lotman. Yu. Lotman built parallels to explain his attitude to Europe to readers. It is noteworthy that you can feel a constant reflection of the concept "Europe" in this scientific work.

The linguistic and cultural concept "Europe" does not correspond to the generally accepted dictionary interpretation of this lexeme (part of the world; mythological; Jupiter's satellite) ( Novyj enciklopedicheskij slovar', 2012, p. 442). At the same time, the analyses of the language fabric of the text has revealed that the author uses the word "Europe" in the actual for him meaning as a "carrier of enlightened thinking, the expression of humanistic values, the center of world culture" 52 times. In this text the hyphenated value becomes a dominant one. A number of related words ("European", "European", "europeism", "Europeanization", "Europeanized") are used in the same sense. The lexeme "Europe" with its related words forms a synonymous series: Europe-West, Enlightenment. The frequenct response of Yu. Lotman's turning to the words "Europe", "West" and their derivatives allows us to establish that the concept "Europe" occupies an important place in the scientist's conceptual sphere, and to identify (at the semantic level) his attitude to Western influence. The "Conversations about Russian culture "shows a tendency to describe the differences between Western European and Russian thinking.

Various intertextual connections presented in the text created by an elite language personality, demonstrate that the concept "Europe" has little to do with a geographical feature, which, in this case, only serves as a formal indicator of the position in relation to Russia. The dominant perception is that of Europe as a place where the both spiritual and material achievements of human civilization are concentrated. Thus, Europe in the view of the author of the text appears as the center of universal culture as a whole.


The proposed study allows us to characterize the main features of Yu. Lotman’s conceptual sphere as an academic linguistic personality. The results of the research allow us to add practical content to the doctrine of the typology of language personalities, specifically identifying such personalities as “professional language personality”, “discursive language personality”. On the basis of the analysis of the language material, the author proves the validity of singling out an academic language personality as a separate type. The linguistic and cultural aspect of studying the conceptual sphere of Yu. Lotman allows us to expand the idea of him as an academic language personality and shows the possibilities of conducting this kind of research in the field of modern linguopersonology.


The study was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, projects № 20-012-00136.


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