Precedent proper names, well-known within a certain social group and endowed with sociocultural worthiness, represent a unique tool of meaning making and linguistic manipulation. In the texts of political discourse, a particular significance is attributed to precedent names associatively connected with historic realia. The paper is devoted to the analysis of the role and linguosemiotic particularities of precedent proper names from the “History” sphere of concepts in Russian political advertising videotexts. The authors envisage political advertising video clips issued during the presidential campaigns in Russia in the last 30 years. The research results demonstrate that precedent names related to historical microtopics and personalities fall into three basic semantic groups: 1) names of historic figures, 2) names of historical periods and events, 3) names of historic realia. In the framework of the first two categories, we can distinguish some subgroups depending on historical periods: 1) pre-Soviet time, 2) Soviet epoch, 3) post-Soviet period. It was discovered that the most numerous group of precedent names is constituted by the names of historic figures, and the most frequently used names among them are those of Soviet personalities. Precedent proper names actively interact with nonverbal precedent signs, and the techniques of verbalization of general precedent semantics can vary. The comprehensive use of precedent proper names and nonverbal precedent signs, connected to them, simplifies the information perception considerably while affecting the voters’ feelings and emotions and, thus, producing a greater impact on them.
Keywords: Precedent proper namepolitical advertisingvideotextsphere of conceptsmultimodal text
The creators of political advertising texts aspire to influence the minds of the electorate with the help of multiple semiotic instruments and diverse technologies of their use. One widespread technique of demonstrating political stances, views, and “promises” of candidates for presidency consists in making reference to historic realia. Understanding historical processes and highlighting key meaning-based points in political interpretation of historical development play a pivotal role in creating a vision of the future aimed at the collective consciousness. Therefore, the very selection of historical facts and their presentation in a certain light allow to set common worldview grounds for a politician and the voters.
An interesting sign material taking part in the realization of historical microtopics in political advertising texts includes precedent proper names (hereinafter referred to as PPNs). In the Russian linguistics, PPNs, and more broadly – precedent signs – are understood as “well-known (within a certain group of people)” and “having a value-based significance” names / cultural signs Zakharenko, Gudkov, Krasnykh, and Bagayeva, ( 1997), Slyshkin ( 2000) and Nakhimova ( 2007). PPNs have a considerable number of background connotations and are able to evoke in the memory of speech community members a whole set of knowledge, beliefs, figurative and attitudinal semantics associated with the corresponding denotations. PPNs often become part of various expressive means (metaphors, metonymies, comparisons, symbols, allusions etc.) for conveying the meaning of a speech message in a more precise or, on the contrary, implicit way. Due to the mentioned properties of precedent signs, the creators of manipulative texts (including political ones) actively use them to enhance cognitive and attractive effects as well as to wield a stronger influence on the minds of the target audience.
Precedent names as a research object have been regularly discussed by Russian linguists in the recent years. PPNs have been studied in the framework of various spheres of concepts ( see Bogdanovich, Nakhimova, & Segal, 2019; Dulebova & Kryukova, 2017; Turkova-Sarayskaya, 2019, etc.) and in texts of different genres: political discourse ( Petrenko & Slepakova, 2016; Pirozhkova, 2017), mass communication ( Glinka, 2019; Nakhimova, 2007), literary texts ( Guseva, 2018; Petrov, 2018) etc. However, the research interest is mostly focused on verbal material. Meanwhile, the particularities of integrating PPNs into complex multimodal texts created with the help of verbal and nonverbal signs still remain understudied. We could only mention several steps made in this direction ( Babikova, 2016; Stepanova, 2013). Unveiling the special traits of the PPNs’ role in communicating the topical content of multimodal political advertising texts represents a wide field for scholarly studies.
Verbal and nonverbal components in political (as well as any other) texts are part of some meaning areas – spheres of concepts, – formed around particular concepts (items in a person’s mind which comprise and combine cultural, attitudinal, linguistic and mental dimensions). In other words, concepts are formed in a person’s consciousness, based on the values of the culture in which he/she is immersed and then find expression in the language ( Slyshkin, 2000). Our research attention is devoted to the PPNs and corresponding nonverbal precedent signs in the “History” sphere of concepts.
The studied material encompasses around 100 texts of Russian political advertising video clips issued the scope of presidential campaigns in the last 30 years. This rather lengthy period of time, in which the analyzed material was created, allows not only to clarify the general tendencies but also to estimate some dynamics in its realization.
Purpose of the Study
The aim of our research is to define the role, linguocultural and linguosemiotic particularities of using precedent proper names in Russian political advertising videotexts. In this sense, the key objectives of the study are the following:
revealing main semantic groups of PPNs in the framework of the “History” sphere of concepts;
considering the specificity of interaction of verbal and nonverbal signs in terms of foregrounding general denotation and conveying topical text meanings;
comparative analysis of particularities in the use of PPNs in the videotexts of various presidential campaigns from 1990s to the present time.
In line with the above listed objectives, the main research methods include:
conceptual and lexico-semantic analysis, which allows to regard the PPNs in the studied videotexts from the semantic point of view and to reveal main semantic groups;
intertextual and semiotic approaches, which help to study the interaction of “construction” elements of varied sign nature in multimodal texts;
discursive approach, combined with some methods of component and comparative analyses, allows to envisage the particularities of using PPNs from the “History” sphere of concepts in political advertising videotexts from different presidential campaigns (1991 – 2018).
All precedent proper names in the framework of the “History” sphere of concepts in the studied videotexts can be organized into three semantic groups: 1) names of historic personalities, 2) names of historic realia, 3) names of historical periods and events.
Precedent names of historic personalities
Names of famous people of the past constitute the largest group of PPNs in the studied political videotexts. These names, in turn, can be divided into three subgroups depending on the historical period: 1) names of the pre-Soviet time; 2) names of the Soviet epoch; 3) names of the post-Soviet period.
Famous people’s names of the pre-Soviet period mostly refer to the personalities (especially politicians) from the Russian history. For instance, the PPN
A whole range of precedent signs in the form of portraits, photos and video images appear in one of G. Yavlinsky’s videos to demonstrate the dynamics of progressive social and political views in Russia. Among the historic figures, there are various Moscow princes, Russian tsars and emperors (e.g.
The only exclusion from the scope of Russian historical onomastic signs is the PPN
The names of famous people of the Soviet period are also quite numerous and include, in the first place, those of famous political (and sometimes military) leaders with socialist and communist ideas: V.
On the other hand, some of the above-mentioned names are found in videoclips of candidates representing other parties and political forces. For example, V. Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, has been using such names in his videos since the 1990s, usually in order to intimidate or scare the audience:
As for the names of the post-Soviet time, we should be selective because this period borders on the present. Thus, in the video clips of the 1990s, the names of politicians of that time should logically be put into “The Present” category. However, the same names transfer to the “History” concept sphere when used in video clips of subsequent presidential campaigns. This is true for the PPNs
Simultaneously, the audience observes the images of some Russian reformers of the 90-s:
When comparing PPNs of historic figures in videotexts of different presidential campaigns, the following tendencies are discovered. The PPNs of the Soviet time are represented most frequently, while the largest number of mentions (including nonverbal precedent signs associated with particular PPNs) is observed in the 2018 video clips (see Table
PPNs of the pre-Soviet period are encountered in the studied videotexts much more rarely. A considerable part of them (see Table
Famous names of the post-Soviet time are even less represented in the studied videotexts. Most of them are encountered in the political cartoon of B. Yeltsin, where the initiators of the August Putsch, the Soviet coup d’etat attempt in 1991, –
Names of historical periods and events
Most names of historical periods and events in Russian political video clips refer to the Soviet time (
Only few PPNs of this semantic group are present in the verbal form in the studied videotexts: «
A lot of precedent names of historical periods and events are actualized with the help of allusion or indirectness coupled with appropriate video images:
Some names of periods and events are actualized by introducing ideographic nonverbal signs into videotexts: an image of the Olympic bear flying to the sky – an allusion to
Overall, the studied videotexts most often include references to PPNs of historical periods and events of the Soviet time. In this respect,
From the perspective of different presidential campaigns, it is noticeable that videotexts of 1996 most frequently include such PPNs as
The largest amount of mentions of different historical periods and events is observed in the video clips issued in 2018 (see Table
Precedent names of historic realia
PPNs of historic realia constitute the smallest semantic group within the studied sphere of concepts. It comprises just two names: the
Multimodal precedent signs associated with the PPN
Thus, the use of precedent signs related to the names of historic realia in the Russian political advertising videotexts is quite insignificant. The only prominent feature in this group of names is the PPN
Precedent names belonging to the “History” sphere of concepts and nonverbal precedent signs associated with them are well represented in the texts of Russian political advertising video clips of the late XX – early XXI century. A vast group of precedent onomastic signs is constituted by the names of historic figures. PPNs of historical periods and events are represented to a lesser extent while the names of historic realia are almost insignificant in number.
It was discovered that the most frequently used PPNs refer to the Soviet times. On the one hand, it is communist candidates’ videos that are abound in verbal allusions and visual signs related to the names of Soviet leaders and heroic events of that time. On the other hand, candidates representing other political parties also advert to PPNs of the Soviet period. Firstly, this can be explained by the same appeal to the heroic past of our country (as in the case of
PPNs of the “History” sphere of concepts are of utmost importance for conveying crucial political meanings. They allow to refer (in a laconic form) to generalized and simplified knowledge of historical processes, figures, periods etc. and, thus, activate the attitudes of target audiences to social dynamics and social and economic development benchmarks which are important for the voters of each candidate.
Techniques of actualizing the content directly communicated by precedent names can vary. In some cases, we can observe the dominant role of PPNs in connecting and integrating the relevant nonverbal surrounding when introducing a historical microtopic in an advertising videotext. In other cases, a PPN can easily be reconstructed by virtue of figurative means (e.g. “the year 1917” means the Great October Socialist Revolution). Another technique – the indirect actualization of a PPN – is the use of ideographic nonverbal signs closely related in the collective consciousness to the denotations denominated by specific proper names (e.g. the Olympic bear flying into the sky – the 1980 Olympics).
The combination of allusive techniques in which PPNs serve as key signs, demonstrates the range of ways to influence efficiently the intellectual and emotional spheres of the audience’s consciousness. In a compact (in terms of length and content) form of advertising videotext, precedent signs of the “History” sphere of concepts help to convey political messages a symbolic and figurative way. They also allow to illustrate a politician’s attitude to certain phenomena of social and historical dynamics and, hence, set the value orientations to be shared and supported by his/her voters.
The reported study was funded by RFBR, project number 19-312-90025.
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03 August 2020
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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, translation, interpretation
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Dmitrieva, A., & Golomidova, M. (2020). Precedent Historic Names In Russian Political Advertising Videotexts. In & N. L. Amiryanovna (Ed.), Word, Utterance, Text: Cognitive, Pragmatic and Cultural Aspects, vol 86. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 373-382). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2020.08.44