Structural And Semantic Properties Of Russian And Tatar Phraseological Units–Malevolence


One of the basic human emotions is anger – a state of extreme discontent, indignation. The result of anger can be a curse to the person who has become an irritating factor in a particular situation. The purpose of the study is to describe the malevolence in the Russian and Tatar languages, which are stable verbal patterns having the features of phraseological units. Phrasing is the result of metaphorization, but the structure and figurative basis of malevolence depend on extralinguistic factors and are nationally determined. The study of malevolence was conducted on the material selected from one-and bilingual dictionaries, using system-structural and comparative methods. Russians’ and Tatars’ active contacts, cultural and historical experiences lead to the appearance and use of units of negative semantics, which are characterized by national markings. Speakers of different system languages use unified symbols for malicious wishes. At the same time, both in Russian and Tatar speech, on the one hand, units were formed representing a direct threat (influence from the speaker), on the other – units expressing a curse (influence of a third party). The structure of malevolence in both languages is diverse, but it is systemic, and speech patterns are based on identical models. Malevolence in any language is a part of the language picture of the world, its formation and use are dictated by certain communicative conditions and goals. The patterns of malevolence are always figurative, laconic and give speech a special stylistic color.

Keywords: Phraseological unitthe Russian languagethe Tatar languagemalevolencethreatcurse


One of the main functions of the language is to reflect the expressive states, to express speaker’s feelings and emotions. The basic human emotions include anger – a state of extreme discontent, a feeling of extreme resentment.

Anger can be expressed verbally and with both mimic and pantomimic codes. The expression of angry emotions is accompanied by closing lips tightly, clenching the teeth, inflating and squeezing the wings of the nose, breathing rapidly or heavily (in the case of restraining anger, searching for a verbal form corresponding to the situation and emotions), threatening with a fist or an index finger, crying, spitting in the direction of the offender. Formal sign of aggression is a special intonation (raise in the tone, up to the cry, the pace of utterance, the strength of the voice).

Anger can result in a statement of threat or curse (malevolence) to the person who has become an irritating factor in a particular life situation. Malevolence is a stable verbal pattern that has all the features of a phraseological unit. The structure and figurative basis of malevolence depend largely on extralinguistic factors and are always nationally determined.

Patterns of malevolence, along with oppositional patterns of good wishes, often become the object of consideration in modern linguistics. The speech implementation of malevolence in certain languages is considered in the studies of Vetrova ( 2016) (the Ukrainian and Lezgin language), Zamaletdinov, Zamaletdinova, Faizullina, Fattakova, and Gabdrakhmanova ( 2018) (the Tatar language), Dinislamova ( 2017), Panchenko ( 2018) (the Mansi language), Dushenkova ( 2017) (the Udmurt language), Pirniyazova ( 2019) (the Karakalpak language); dialectal evil wishes are analyzed by Grishanova 2001), Markina ( 2019). Beresovich and Surikova ( 2017) consider malevolence in dialects. Vodyasova and Uchevatkin ( 2011) describe functions of malevolence in a literary text. Mokienko ( 1994) determines the status of either censorship or obscene of these patterns. The researches of Novozhenova, and Probst ( 2019), Plotnikova ( 2017) are dedicated to verbal threat and construction mechanisms of communicative acts of threat. Lexicographic representation of malevolence patterns is reflected in one-and bilingual dictionaries ( Safiullina, 2001; Phraseological dictionary of the Russian language, 1967).

Problem Statement

The modern world order is characterized by active contacts of peoples with different cultural and historical experience, which causes a variety of psychological attitudes and ethical principles. In these conditions, it is relevant to study speech situations that accompany the course and resolution of conflicts, speech ways of expressing human emotions, including a comparative study of the emotional activities of different ethnic groups that speak related and unrelated languages.

Research Questions

Phraseological units expressing malevolence contain a national-cultural code that reflects the uniqueness of the national culture of a particular people. This can be fully stated about the phraseological units of the Russian and Tatar languages. The internal form of phraseological units depicts a person's ideas about morality, good and evil, ideas about the degree of human suffering, attitude to illness and death, and stereotypes of behavior and actions. Each language has its own stable expressions to express the emotional and mental state of anger.

According to semantics, malevolence can be divided into two groups: a direct threat, in the implementation of which a speaker can potentially take a direct part ( голову тебе оторву , ноги выдерну ; literally: I will tear off your head , I will pull out your legs ), and an abstract curse, where the fulfillment of the promised is assigned to fate ( чтоб у тебя руки отсохли , literally: I wish your hands withered! ), nature ( разрази тебя гром , забодай тебя комар ; literally: let thunder strike you , let a mosquito gore you ), higher or otherworldly forces ( накажи тебя бог, черт тебя побери ; literally: God will punish you; , damn you ).

Malevolence expressed in the form of threat, depending on the intensity of the angry emotions experienced by the speaker (resentment – anger – rage, etc.) has different degrees of possible negative impact on the addressee. This can be: 1) intimidation with the promise of trouble without specifying it: попляшешь ты у меня! ты у меня еще поговоришь! ты у меня получишь на орехи! дам тебе прикурить! дам тебе жизни! покажу, где раки зимуют! покажу (тебе) кузькину мать! (literally: You shall dance! You shall speak! You shall be punished! I will light your cigarette! I will make you liveI'll show you where the crayfish hibernate I'll show you Kuzkin's mother! ); 2) promise to cause physical harm to the addressee: ребра / кости (тебе) пересчитаю! ноги / руки переломаю! живого места на тебе не оставлю! отбивную (из тебя) сделаю! всыплю по первое число!; 3) угроза смертью: башку сверну! горло перегрызу! сердце вырву! мокрого места (от тебя) не оставлю! (literally: I will recalculate your ribs / bones! I'll break your legs / arms! I will not leave a living place on youI'll make a chop of you! I will beat you! ); 3) death threat: башку сверну! горло перегрызу! сердце вырву! мокрого места (от тебя) не оставлю! (literally: I will cut down your head, I'll bite your throat off! I'll rip your heart out! I will not leave a wet spot from you! ).

A speech situation based on a threat can take a form of a dialogue. The threat causes a verbal response from the interlocutor by means of phraseological units with the value: 1) warning: осторожней на поворотах, не играй кошка угольком – лапку обожжешь (literally: be careful on the turns , don't play cat with charcoal, you’ll burn your paw ); 2) counter threats: в гробу я тебя видел в белых тапочках (literally: I saw you in white sneakers . in a coffin ); 3) the alarming question: на кого хвост (голос) поднимаешь? кого бочку катишь? (literally: Who are you raising voice on ? Who are you rolling a barrel on ?); 4) an ironic comment denying the possibility for the initiator of the initial threat to fulfill it: руки коротки, не на того напал, и баран грозил забодать волка, дай Бог нашему теляти волка поймати, пришел теленок медведя пугать (literally: your hands are short ), не на того напал (literally: the wrong person was attacked, and the ram threatened to gore the wolf, let the calf catch the bear, the calf came to scare the bear ).

As noted above, malevolence expressed in the form of a curse, implies an impact on the addressee of a third part. Verbal patterns of this kind go back to ancient rites and conspiracies aimed at harming the enemy, the opponent with the help of supernatural forces. The universal patterns будь ты проклят (literally: be damned ) and its more detailed version будь ты проклят до третьего / седьмого колена (literally: be damned to the third / seventh generation ) is directly related to the wording of magical texts. Many spells are aimed at calling to the aid of the initiator forces that have capabilities greater than human, such assistants could act as the forces of nature, totemic animals, which is reflected in the curses разрази тебя гром , пес тебя укуси, лягушка тебя заклюй (literally: let thunder break you, let dog bite you, let frog slaughter you ). In addition, in a later era mythological characters represented evil: черт тебя побери, дьявол бы тебя забрал (literally: damn you , the devil would take you ). The origin of such phraseological phrase as осиновый кол тебе в могилу (literally: the aspen stake to your grave ) is connected with protective spells from the dead. The belief in the reality of supernatural intervention in human life is reflected in malevolence, where the subject performing the action is impersonal and non-obvious: чтоб тебя разорвало, чтоб тебя подняло и шмякнуло (literally: wish you were torn apart, wish you were lifted up and smacked ). The belief in the presence of another world is fixed in phraseological units such чтоб ты сквозь землю провалился (literally: wish you fell through the ground ).

Curses can also be ranked by the degree of potential damage. The figurative basis of curses largely characterizes the perception by native speakers of archetypal dichotomies of misery – happiness, grief – joy, suffering – pleasure, that is, they give an understanding of what has long been considered the greatest evil, misery within a certain culture.

Most curses draw a situation of causing physical injury or ill health: чтоб у тебя руки отсохли, что у тебя глаза повылазили, лопни твои глаза, отсохни твой язык, чтоб тебе повылазило; телең корысын // телең череп төшсен (literally: I wish your hands withered! I wish your eyes popped, I wish your tongue withered). In the Tatar language phraseological unit телең корысын (literally: let your tongue dry out) is used with the identical component part, however there is a unit that is used more often and does not have an equivalent in Russian which is : телең череп төшсен (literally: let your tongue rot and dry out).

This indicates that health has been recognized and is recognized as a great value, an important condition for a full life, and its absence is one of the worst circumstances imaginable. A large number of nouns denoting different parts of the body (hands, feet, heart, head, throat, eyes, tongue, etc.) is due to the traditional enumeration of body parts in medical and love malicious conspiracy, for example: «И пошлю ту силу могучую / Моему милому, рабу Божьему (имя), / Во все суставы, полусуставы, / Во все кости и полукости, / Во все жилы и полужилы, / В очи ясные, щеки румяные, / В грудь его, ретивое сердце, / В утробу, в черную печень, / В буйну голову, в руки сильные, / В ноги резвые, кровь горячую» (literally: «And I will send that mighty power / To my dear servant of God (name), / To all joints, half-joints, / To all bones and half-bones, / To all veins and half-veins, / To clear eyes, rosy cheeks, / To his chest, zealous heart, / To his womb, to his black liver, / To his riotous head, to his strong hands / To his frisky legs frisky, hot blood» ). At the same time, death as the result of the curse desired by the speaker is much less frequent: чтоб ты сдох, едят тебя мухи (literally: I wish you were dead, flies are eating you ). /. Living in physical infirmity and ill health was perceived as a worse punishment than leaving life altogether. Among threats (not curses), death as the ultimate goal of a wish occurs much more often and is presented in more diverse forms. At the same time Tatar language demonstrates a much more active usage of death threats, that can be caused by both supernatural үләт кыргыры (literally: get lost in a pit ), and natural causes ( let the cholera take you ), үләт ялагыры (literally: let the cholera touch you ), үләт еккыры (literally: I wish you were fallen by cholera ).

Another component of a happy life in the collective consciousness has always been security, prosperity, and luck. Accordingly, the loss of luck and prosperity is an extremely negative thing represented in many curses: чтоб тебе пусто было, ни дна тебе ни покрышки (literally: I wish you bad luck, I wish you a shameful life ).

Phraseological units with the meaning of wishes not to meet the speaker are semantically and structurally similar to malevolence: шел бы ты своей дорожкой; сгинь с глаз моих; чтоб духу (праху, ноги) твоей здесь не было; сделай так, чтоб я тебя больше не видел (literally: you’d better go your way, get out of my sight, I wish you (your ashes, foot) were not here ). In addition, there are wishes for a quick parting with the interlocutor: скатертью дорожка; ступай на все четыре стороны; ступай (иди) ко всем чертям (собачьим); к свиньям (собачьим); гуляй, Вася; иди к черту (лешему, ляду, бесу, шуту, к чертовой матери (бабушке, тетке); әнә (ана) бара юлың ʻвон тебе бог, а вон порог, үкчәңне күтәр // табаныңны ялтрат, шайтаныма олак. табаныңны (үкчәңне) ялтырат // үкчәңне майла (literally: good riddance , go to all four sides, go (go) to all the devils; to the pigs (dog); walk, Vasya; go to the devil (goblin, lyad, imp, jester, to the devil's mother (grandmother, aunt) ). In Tatar language identical meaning connects some phraseological units which have an inner meaning connected with the road or path: әнә (ана) бара юлың (literally: there is your road ). More than that, among Tatatars there are pharesological units connected with an unwanted encounter: үкчәңне күтәр (literally: raise your heel ) , табаныңны ялтрат (literally: shine with your foot ), үкчәңне майла (literally: oil your heel ).V.M. Mokienko ( Mokienko, 1994) nominates such expressions as a message. Such messages are genetically traced back to the functions of the characters in the fairy tale and to the fairy-tale spatial patterns (cf., for example: ступай за тридевять земель в тридесятое царство (literally: go to the farthest lands in the farthest kingdom ). V.M. Mokienko notes that the messages send the addressee of the statement to a certain character, who in the mythological tradition represents the evil beginning (devil, imp, goblin, demon), as well as to the place of his stay (usually an unclean place – a swamp, a bathhouse): Go to the bathhouse! Go to the swamp! In addition to supernatural evil carriers, the messages mention little-respected animals and people (a pig, a dog, a jester), thereby indicating the addressee's status in the eyes of the speaker. The main difference between the actual malevolence from the message is that the message does not have an intention to cause tangible and irreparable harm to the addressee of the statement and only implies a refusal to further communicate with him.

It is important to pay attention to speech situations in which malevolence can be inverted and directed at the speaker himself: лопни мои глаза! отсохни мой язык! черт меня побери! мәңге кояш йөзен күрмим // дөнья йөзен күрмим (literally: let my eyes burst out, let my tongue withered, let me not see the world ). Similar expressions, used in relation to people tmemselves, perform a completely different function: they become patterns of an oath promise, assurances of sincerity, truthfulness, purity of thoughts. They are usually used with the subordinate clause of the condition: Лопни мои глаза, если вру! (literally: Let my eyes burst out, if I lie! ) In the Tatar language, similar assurances are built on the model of the relative clause: мәңге кояш йөзен күрмим (literally: I wish I had never seen the sun ), дөнья йөзен күрмим (literally: I wish I had never seen the face of the Eart h). It is notable that if the Russian language in this area is dominated by expressions with the semantics of future physical damage (if the oath is not fulfilled), the Tatar language is more likely to tell about the consequences of this damage.

An interesting phenomenon in the field of semantics of phraseological units-wishes is the change of their meaning to the opposite. Thus, the expression скатертью дорожка (literally; let your path be a tablecloth ) initially was a blessing and meant a wish for an easy road for the person. An ironic reinterpretation of this phrase led to its current meaning – a wish for a quick and unhindered departure of an undesirable person. The expression ни пуха ни пера (literally: neither down nor feather ), on the contrary, could initially have a negative connotation and meaning akin to malevolence and similar to the phraseology of ни дна ни покрышки . However, according to superstitious beliefs, a direct wish of good luck while hunting (down and feather denote game) could lead to the opposite result (the evil eye), and malevolence took the place of a benevolent pattern, in fact changing the meaning for knowledgeable participants in communication. Similarly, the semantics of the response pattern к черту! (literally: to hell with it! ) has changed, it turned from a message into gratitude for a friendly parting word. Another way to change the meaning of the phraseology-wishes is to add a second part to the original phrase, an expression containing a threat or hidden threat. The phraseologism флаг тебе в руки (literally: flag in your hands ) has the meaning of granting freedom of action, approval of subsequent actions of the addressee, but supplemented by the second part, acquires the character of malevolence: флаг тебе в руки, поезд навстречу (literally: the flag in your hands, the train to face you ).

The structure of phraseological expressions-malevolence is diverse, but at the same time, it is systemic. Certain models can be identified in the malevolence case:

  • Malevolence of the first groups (threats) are built on the basis of verb future tense: 1) verb in the first person singular ( горло перегрызу , дам прикурить , отбивную сделаю (literally : I will gnaw your throat, I will light your cigarette, I will make a chop of you ), 2) verb in the second person singular ( ты у меня попляшешь ; получишь на орехи (literally: you will dance , you will get be punished ).

  • The main components of malevolence of the second group is in the Imperative mood: черт тебя побери, отсохни твой язык, катись колбаской, пес (тебя) укуси, будь проклят, лягушка заклюй, күземнән югал ʻ(уйди) с глаз долойʼ телең корысын // телең череп төшсен, кулы корысын (корышсын) (lerally: damn you, let your tongue withered, roll like a sausage, let a frog (dog) bite you, get away from my eyes); in the Tatar language күземнән югал (literally: get away from my eyesight), дөмегеп кат (literally: when you die, numb), дөмегеп кит (literally: when you die, leave). It is noteworthy that, along with expressions with a component composition similar or identical to Russian analogues, phraseological units with a unique composition are used in the Tatar tradition. For example, wishing bad for someone йөзе йөзтүбән килсен / йөзең белән йөзтүбән каплан is literally translated as «wish you were facing the ground».

The meaning of the Imperative mood has the form of the Indicative mood: едят тебя мухи (literally: flies are eating you ); the infinitive: сидеть тебе на хлебе и воде (literally: to sit on bread and water ). A significant part of the curses is built on the model of the subordinate sentence: чтоб руки (у тебя) отсохли, чтоб ты сдох, чтоб тебе пусто было, чтоб я (тебя) (больше) не видел, дөмегеп кат (кит) // дөмегеп(ләр) киткере // йөзе йөзтүбән килсен // йөзең белән йөзтүбән каплан ʻчтоб ты сдох // пропади ты пропадом // чтоб тебе провалитьсяʼ (literally: that your hands withered, that you died, that you were empty, that I did not see you any more , that you fell through the ground ). In the Tatar language the meaning of malevolence is usually conveyed in the imperative form: дөмегеп кат (literally: when you die, numb ) , дөмегеп кит (literally: when you die, leave ).

The individual, personal aspect of malevolent phraseologisms, as well as their specifically targeted nature, is emphasized by the presence of a significant number of components in their structure, expressed by personal and possessive pronouns ( попляшешь ты у меня , лопни твои глаза, черт бы вас побрал (literally: I will make you dance, let your eyes burst, damn you );

Some part of malevolence is used by native speakers in an elliptical form: к черту (лешему, бесу, ляду, чертовой матери)! к свиньям (собачьим) (literally: to hell (to the devil, the devil's mother)! to pigs (dog) ). The reduction of the structurally necessary component иди ( go ) is a vivid manifestation of the language economy law, manifested at the speech level. This was made possible due to the frequency of repetitive communication situations and the frequency of use of a phrase that expresses a modal assessment of reality by the speaker. A similar process is observed in the situation with the phraseology чтоб тебе ( to you, that you ), where concretizing components are reduced.

The inclusion of proper names in the composition of phraseologisms studied is rare; however, there are such examples: гуляй, Вася (вдоль забора) (literally: walk, Vasya (along the fence) ). A proper name is used to create a colloquial image, as some of the most popular names among common people are Vanya, Vasya, Emelya. They traditionally have an additional value with the negative connotation of «a narrow-minded, simple-minded, little respected person».

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to describe the expression of malevolence in the Russian and Tatar languages using phraseological units:

  • structure;

  • analysis of metaphorization processes as a method of phrasing in different languages;

  • definition of semantic properties;

  • identification of specific and unified symbols in the formation of nationally marked units.

Research Methods

The complex of General linguistic and linguoculturological methods and techniques enabled us to present the versatility and complexity of the material associated with different language and cultural concepts. General linguistic methods and techniques were used in the system analysis of language units (from meaning to form, from form to meaning) and their functioning. Methods and techniques of linguistic and cultural analysis were applied in the consideration, analysis and description of a person's reaction to reality, to the behavior of other people. The system-structural method helped to consider units having a certain structure. The comparative method identified common and special features in the expression of malevolence among different peoples.


The results of the study of the structural and semantic properties of phraseological units – malevolence in the Russian and Tatar languages enabled us to come to the following conclusion:

  • despite the fact that the expression of a curse is an individual, personal and situational expression of emotions, the representation of specific speech means, the centuries-old neighborhood caused the interpenetration of certain standards and symbols, traditions of one people in the traditions of another;

  • there is much in common in the speech patterns of the ill-wishes of Russians and Tatars living in common territories.


The emotions of anger, expressed in patterns-phraseological units with the meaning «wishes» are understandable to all speakers of the same language because they were formed in the process of national communication. They are the result of knowledge and reflection of reality, their worldview, imaginative thinking, and, finally, the national temperament.

Malevolence in any language is a part of the language picture of the world. It is a national-specific pattern in certain communicative conditions.

The patterns analyzed in the article are inherent only in colloquial speech. The malevolent patterns that have been formed in each language are always figurative, but at the same time, they are laconic and give a special stylistic color to speech.


The study was financially supported by Grant of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research: 19-012-0039 Linguistic and Culturological reconstruction of ethnic area of Western Siberia.


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03 August 2020

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

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Ermakova, E., Prokopova, M., Fayzullina, G., & Dorodneva, N. (2020). Structural And Semantic Properties Of Russian And Tatar Phraseological Units–Malevolence. In N. L. Amiryanovna (Ed.), Word, Utterance, Text: Cognitive, Pragmatic and Cultural Aspects, vol 86. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 434-442). European Publisher.