Some Features Of Russian And Polish Language Picture Of The World


The article is devoted to certain features of the perception of the world by Russians and Poles. The opinions of scientists on the problems of a systematic study of the structure of a national character, factors influencing the formation of national identity, national pride are presented. The article analyzes linguistic facts - nominations of feelings, emotions, moral categories, moral and ethical attitudes, which make up the national-cultural conditioning of linguistic consciousness. A study of the semantics of researched lexical units shows that national specificity is clearly manifested in the connotation. The article analyzes the key ideas that have influenced the worldview in compared linguocultures. The universal and national-specific content in such nominations as “fear”, “anger”, “shame”, “yearning” is defined. They have a negative connotation, which manifests itself in the collective or individualistic, social or personal aspects. The article reveals the content of the opposition “chaos - cosmos”, transforming in modern consciousness into a contrast between East and West or into the binary opposition “authoritarianism - personal freedom”, an understanding of which, using the analysis of the perception of basic nominations in Polish and Russian, allows to find similar and different features in the national characters of two neighboring Slavic peoples, a common and opposite in their perception of the socio-cultural picture of the world. The synonymous series presented in the analyzed nominations show both proximity and differences in the perception and understanding by the native speakers of two related languages of the conceptual picture of the world.

Keywords: Linguisticconsciousnessnational charactermentalityculture


At the present stage in philology special attention is paid to the study of the national-cultural conditionality of linguistic consciousness the sources of the national type, national character are studied wrote Balyasnikova, Ufimtseva, Cherkasova, and Chulkina ( 2018) and Balyasnikova, Cherkasova, Stepanova, and Ufimtseva ( 2017) and Kosheleva ( 2017). The interest in these issues is unchanged among representatives of other areas of humanitarian knowledge Voronina and Novikova ( 2017), Munkueva and Serebryakova ( 2018). A systematic study of the structure of a national character, factors affecting the formation of national identity, national pride are reflected in the article of researcher by Zenenko ( 2018), Chulkina, ( 2016) and other authors. Fedorkina ( 2017) as representative of the psychoanalytic direction, consider the issues of distinguishing unconscious, irrational components in the structure of national consciousness. In his article, Yakovlev ( 2017) pay special attention to the application of methods of comparison, collation, typology in the study and analysis of national language pictures of the world. Denisenko ( 2019) and others find socio-historical roots in the national character. Other scientists consider the theory of interaction between society and nature, highlighting, for example, geographical determinism, ecology of religion, environmental anthropology, etc.

Problem Statement

Largely image of Russia in the mentality of writers who position themselves as belonging to the culture of the West turns out to be an echo of the ancientest opposition “chaos - cosmos”, which in modern consciousness has been transformed into a contradistinction between the East and the West. Many scientists, on this basis, summarized that in Western culture prevails the cult of the individuum, while in Russian culture the collective that has a priority wrote Balyasnikova et al. ( 2018).

Research Questions

Polish culture, researchers say, gravitates to the western. So, in the Lipatov's (2003) article “The State System and National Mentality (Russian-Polish Alternative)” explores the influence of the features of state power in Russia and Poland on the national mentality. According to the author, the Russian mentality is largely determined by the belief in the effectiveness of autocracy, based on unquestioning obedience to the will of the tsar as the anointed of God. Lipatov ( 2003) correlates this position with the lack among Russians of independent - personal, individual, special - thinking and its submission to the strong leader or idea of ​​him. For the Polish national self-identity is characteristic formed in the 15-16 centuries under the state system of the the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (tracing-paper with lat. res publica) the perception of “the state for the individual”, and not “the personality for the state”. At that time, the king, elected by representatives of separate groups of Polish szlachta, lost sovereign power, which led to equality, fraternity of the entire ruling class. That is why, according to A.V. Lipatov, “The state as a “public affair” (res publica) was recognized as an institution designed to serve Polish szlachta - a community of individuals with equal rights - and thereby to each member of this society individually” ( Lipatov, 2003, p. 85).

Kundera ( 1984) in his essay “The Abducted West, or the Tragedy of Central Europe” analyzes the perception of Russia and Russian fate by the Polish writer K. Brandys: “Compared to Russian fate, nothing should seem terrible. However, everything happens otherwise. Russian fate is not inscribed in our consciousness, it is something alien to us, we do not feel like we are related to it or responsible for it. She dominates us, but is not our legacy ... I would rather not know their world, not know that it exists.” Explaining such an image of Russia in the consciousness of a Polish writer, M. Kundera writes: “Brandys does not reject Gogol's artistic mastery, but he is frightened by the world that his creation evokes: it charmes and attracts us when it is far away, and repels with all its terrible alienness when it surrounds us close; it has other (larger) dimensions of misfortune, another image of space (so huge that whole nations disappear in it), another (slow and patient) rhythm of time, another way to laugh, live and die” (p. 6).

Such a perception of Russia by Polish and Czech writers is probably only to some extent due to the “historical memory” and the influence that Russia had on the fate of their countries in the 20th century.

Differences apply to anger. In Russian linguistic culture, anger is also a tool for regulating social relations. Russian vocabulary contains 20 synonyms for it (affect, violence, rabies, indignation, spite, malice, bitterness, frenzy, fury, insanity, indignation, frenzy, rage, etc.). According to Stefansky ( 2009), many types of anger in Russians have a positive assessment (noble rage, righteous anger). As proof the researcher draws a parallel with characteristic Russian's attitude towards various manifestations of authoritarianism. In our opinion, this statement is one-sided, since in the Russian language picture of the world such an attitude to anger is connected with inherent to Russians paradoxicalness of perception of the surrounding reality, throwings from one extreme to another, when their feelings indicate that they have been brought to the limit, often with a pronounced negative verbal assessment (for example, an explicit and implicit expression of anger in such phraseological units as: wipe from the face of the earth, wipe into powder, with fire and sword, thunder and lightning, tear and hurl, bring to white incandescence and others). While in Polish linguistic culture all the emotional manifestations of anger are indicators of mental illness (wściekłość, wścieklizna, szał, pasja, furia - nominations with semantics “anger” are indicators in the description of mental disorders). Not a single manifestation of anger in Polish culture is evaluated positively, but perceived as a humiliation of a personality wrote Stefansky ( 2009). It should be noted that an anger in Polish language is more closely related with representations of ​​spite: if in Russian, such words as excitement, anxiety, irritability, irritation are not necessarily concomitant with anger, then in Polish wzburzenie, rozdrażnienie - are its obvious indicators. The difference in the perception of shame in Russians and Poles is also noted. In Russian language collective beginning is manifested again, since such feelings as shame, disgrace, inconvenience, embarrassment reflect the position of personality in relation to society (shame from зреть - to see, to look from the side), the individual's compulsion by the society to humility. In Polish language wstyd, hańba are also called upon to regulate the individual’s relations with the collective, but in a more extreme manifestation (hańba <* ganiti - drive out) is the society’s refusal from communication with the person, his expulsion. In Polish language the words wstyd, hańba are also called upon to regulate the individual’s relations with the collective, but in a more extreme manifestation (hańba <* ganiti - drive out) - in the form of a society’s refusal to communicate with a person, his exile. Yet, the semantics of nominations in both linguistic cultures are close: shame - punishment and personality's retribution for their deeds.

In Russian linguistic culture, the sadness associated with the death of native person or loved one, despite of the clearly personality-oriented directivity (as I'll continue to live without ...), to a greater extent is perceived as a manifestation of communal, often group feelings: Stefansky ( 2009) cites as an argument the statement that the lexeme of sadness in the Russian language cannot be used in native constructions (for example, I’m sad). The Polish smutek, used in a similar situation, has a more personal, intimate, sometimes demonstrative semantic.

In Russian mentality in the perception of space one of the mains - is the idea of yearning expressed by a long series of synonyms (sorrow, sadness, despondency, dreariness, dolour, boredom, depression, bitterness, grunt, flour, suffering, melancholy, mortal longing, melancholy green, world grief, cats scratching on the heart, etc.). This feeling is caused by various reasons and manifests itself in any forms. longing, melancholy green, world grief, cats scratching on the heart, etc.). This feeling is caused by various reasons and manifests itself in any forms. Society treats an individual’s longing condescendingly, excusably, with understanding and sympathy. This state of personality unites others in the desire to help overcome it. Despite the fact that the feeling of longing is clearly individual, it has social roots (longing for a deceased loved one is nothing but a desire to return his system of social ties). The yearning expressed in the formula “I'm yearning” is formed by a violation of contacts with society (increased anxiety, a sense of threat, psychological difficulties, lack of motivation, goals, etc.). In Polish, yearning is represented by the lexeme tęsknota, less often melancholia and does not have a synonymous paradigm. This feeling is very personal and not related to social connections. The individual nature of melancholia, in contrast to Russian perception, involves solving the problems by the person himself and in various ways, including aggression wrote Stefansky ( 2009).

In Russian linguistic culture, a special place is occupied by resentment (от “об-вида” - “go around”, enclose, not notice, deprive) - the most negative feeling of the emotional sphere of life, which has a dual focus: a person pities himself and expresses dissatisfaction with the offender (did not sufficient attention, showed disrespect, distrust ...: resentment is bitter, insulting to tears, do not give yourself insult, blood resentment, etc.). When analyzing the expression of resentment in Russian language, the cult of the collective reappears: resentment is a social phenomenon only because the person, having received it unjustly, incorrectly, tries to change his individual position in society through a reassessment of relations with both the offender and within himself. When analyzing the expression of resentment in Russian language, the cult of the collective reappears: resentment is a social phenomenon only because the person, having received it, unjustly, incorrectly, tries to change his individual position in society through a reassessment of relations with both the offender and within himself. In Polish language, a feeling similar to the Russian aggressive reaction of the offended is expressed by the nomination pretensja. However, the resentment among the Poles has many facets too, which are represented in a synonymous paradigm (uraza, obraza, krzywda, żal, pretensja, etc.). The prevalence of the personality is reflected in semantics: resentment is a person’s inner experience, the ascertaining of injustice, the affirmation of his innocence, empathy and self-pity.

When comparing expression of jealousy in Russian and Polish, differences are also observed. For Russians, this feeling (jealousy от *rьva “anger”) has a pronounced social orientation - the renewal of broken ties, the clarification of relationships, etc. The basis of jealousy among the Poles is not a social, but a personal principle - zazdrość (envy).

Purpose of the Study

In modern scientific knowledge was shaped the representation about the generality of mechanisms and tools for person’s cognition, perception and understanding of the world and the conditionality of its conceptual picture, which is reflected in the language and progresses, thanks to use and development of language in the process of forming of historical experience, cultural and national traits of each ethnos. This understanding should be embodied in a comprehensive typological, comparative linguoculturological study, including the Russian and Polish features of the perception of the world, briefly presented in this article.

Research Methods

Analyses the key ideas that have influenced the picture of the world in comparable linguistic cultures.

The descriptive research approach is a basic research method in this article, that examines the situation, as it exists in its current state

The causal comparative research also applied in this article.


The Poles retained admiration for their aristocrats. Historically, they were either Polish noblemen (Shliahtyches), mostly ruined or peasants. Therefore, archetypal signs of a nation are considered: honor - zaszczyt and pride - duma. Respect and admiration for Polish gentry was reflected even in the name of white mushroom - borowik szlachetny. The worship of aristocracy and its reverence manifested itself in the awareness of beauty, despite the fact that the perception of beauty / urody / piękności in related pictures of the world, in general, coincides. In Russian and Polish, beauty is appearance. But for Russians, the visual principle is at the core - what a person sees (beautiful - “nice looking, pleasing look, corresponding to the notions of beauty and harmony”), and among Poles - what is a natural, what is inherited from parents, what is given by nature (in the nomination of the word "urod (freak)", the root "rod (generation)" indicates a connection with nature, with birth). If in Russian linguistic culture more attention is paid to representations of female soulfulness and appearance, in the Polish tradition the queen's behavior is basic - zachowanie królowej wrote Vezhbicka ( 1996).

Maslova ( 2007) writes: “The Polish character is first personal freedom, personal dignity, the state for the individual, personal independence, patriotism. In comparison with Poles, the Russians are characterized by mystical realism and spiritual sobriety, whereas the Poles are much more romantic. Rusak is not a fool: he wants to eat - he will say, he wants to sit down - he will sit down” (p. 133).

Describing the features of the Russian character, the researcher notes that the desire to “be like everyone else” is an important point in the behavior of Russians. Characterizing the features of the Russian character, the researcher notes that an important point in the behavior of Russians is the desire to “be like everyone else”. In her opinion, this is due to the idea that “a personality is important not in itself (as in Europeans), but is a part of the entire society” (p. 145). Stefansky ( 2009) confirms the thesis about neglect and sometimes trampling of the personality in the thinking of Russians, on the one hand, and the priority of individuality, personality among the Poles, on the other, indicating that this is one of the main ideas that shaped the picture of the world in these two comparing linguistic cultures. If in language picture of the world in Russians dominate moral categories: kindness, help, sympathy, breadth of soul, patience, etc., whereas the moral and ethical attitudes of the Poles are reflected in the representations of: zaszczyt - honor, duma - pride, uprzejmość - courtesy, wytrwałość - perseverance, oszczędć - thrift, prac - work, dług-debt.

When describing emotional concepts in Slavic linguistic cultures, Stefansky ( 2009) pays special attention to grammatical methods of expressing unconscious fear in Russian language. The researcher finds the basis of such a grammatical incarnation in the mythological concept of fear as an evil spirit, and respectively, of irrational fear as a result of penetration of evil spirits into the soul. Аccording to Stefansky ( 2009) this is the reason for the definition in Russian linguistic culture of unconscious fear as a result of illness, abnormality. Herewith the collective principle comes to the fore again: it is society that regulates social relations, it determines deviations from normality.

In Polish language there is a richer choice of language tools for expressing unconscious fear (polish. lęk, przestrach, przerażenie). An individualistic explanation for such a feeling given - this is a fear of the inexplicable, incomprehensible, otherworldly. At the same time, it is noted that the social basis of fear does not play a leading role wrote Stefansky ( 2009).

According to the researchers, a specific concept of “litost” which means compassion for oneself due to undeserved resentment, injustice, envy and instant hostile influence on a source of resentment, or an outsider person, was not formed to the end and did not find the reflection in Russian linguistic culture. However, in both Polish and Russian linguistic cultures, this concept exists. But unlike Polish, in Russian culture, getting rid of self-pity also has a social basis and is expressed in sympathy for someone who is more unlucky, circumvented or deprived. Russian "litost" is aimed not so much to assert itself, but to harmonize relations with society.


Despite the differences, both the Russian and Polish worldviews coincide in the perception of such categories as: soul / dusza, dare / odwaga, duty / dług, homeland / ojczyzna. In most cases, two Slavic peoples associate the same concepts with their native home: hearth / kominek, ognisko; family / rodzina; comfort / przytulność; fortress, security / biezpieczeństwo, schronienie; heat / ciepło; love / miłość; parents / rodzice.


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03 August 2020

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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, translation, interpretation

Cite this article as:

Denisenko, E. N. (2020). Some Features Of Russian And Polish Language Picture Of The World. In N. L. Amiryanovna (Ed.), Word, Utterance, Text: Cognitive, Pragmatic and Cultural Aspects, vol 86. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 358-364). European Publisher.