Identity As A Dialect Marker In The Semantics Of Phraseological Units


The article discusses the corpus of dialect phraseological units from the point of view of the comprehensive nature of their semantics. Taking into account that language is one of the most important markers of identity, this article analyzes the dialect marker in the semantics of phraseological units using the example of Russian Don Dialects. Dialect phraseological units are understood as linguistic signs functioning in the system of the Don territorial dialect. The nature of the phraseology of any language includes a complex emotional range that reflects both the practical and aesthetic experience of a person. Their features are determined by the originality of the territorial dialect itself, which in the scientific literature usually refers to specific variants of the national language, which differ in social and functional aspects. The degree of completeness of the realization of the semantic image is of great interest among Russian-speaking researchers and students of the Russian language, which is caused by the linguistic effect of the reconstruction of the linguistic view of the world, its individual sections, and the peculiarities of the formation of Don cultural identity.

Keywords: A range of regional dialectsmarkers of identitypolysemysemantics of phraseological unitssynonymy


Nowadays the level of development of Russian phraseology as a scientific linguistic discipline is quite high. The phraseological foundation of territorial dialects, dialect phraseology of the Russian national language is also studied in various aspects. Dialect phraseological unit is studied from different perspectives, which is of great importance both for its characterization, as a special unit of the language (Baranov & Dobrovolsky, 2009), and for the characterization of properties relating to its form, content and use. Speaking about the desire for detailed study in a dialect phraseological system, accompanied by a large number of dialect phraseological units (DPU) in each semantic group, it is necessary to analyze the system relations of dialect phraseological units and their semantics as a categorical feature of phraseological unit (Apresyan, 2009).

Problem Statement

Traditionally, during the course of the study of semantics, systemic relations are considered: the phenomena of polysemy, synonymy and homonymy. The study of the semantics of dialect phraseological units allows determining the degree of completeness of the realization of semantic image, obtaining examples of the identity of this system as a cultural phenomenon of a native speaker.

Research Questions

The article analyzes the systemic relations in the semantics of dialectic Don phraseological units (DDPU), traces the ways of the formation of semantic relation between studied. Don Russian dialects are a part of the South Russian dialects.

The semantic capacity typical of dialect phraseology can be considered as a property of DPU – the exhaustive nature of semantics .

The exhaustive nature of semantics makes it possible to accurately and comprehensively present the social portrait of a person and his individual external features, natural phenomena and objects of surrounding reality.

The exhaustive nature of semantics is manifested in the presence of polysemantic DPU. The phenomenon of ambiguity is characteristic of dialect phraseology, while the vast majority of phraseological units of the Russian language are unambiguous (Zhukov, 1978). The phraseological polysemy is based on the “actualization of various potential families” (Nazaryan, 1983), the complexity and depth of the image.

The study of this phenomenon through the example of the meanings of some Don dialect phraseological units ( DDPU ) confirms the above mentioned thesis. The ambiguous DDPU накидать галок with the meanings of: 1) ‘sprinkle with mud’, 2) ‘lie’ – indicates the depth of the image at its core. The two meanings revealed by it, obviously, developed one from the other sequentially: 1) black clods of dirt that stained something, like fast-flying black birds, and 2) a lie condemned in human society is like clods of dirt. This phenomenon can be illustrated by a Table 01 .

Table 1 -
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In the circle of multi-meaning linguistic units, the development of enantiosemy is possible i.e., the development of opposite meanings. The traces of the development of the opposite meaning have been preserved. For example, such a word as priceless means the enormous value of an object and the complete absence of its value. At the phraseological level, the phenomenon of enantiosemy is also known: humble servant 1) ‘etiquette formula indicating a person’s willingness to be useful to the addressee’ and 2) ‘formula of refusal to be useful to the addressee’. However, such units are extremely rare in both popular and dialect phraseology. Among the ambiguous DPU of Don Dialects only one case of intra-dialectal enantiosemy was found, when one DPU means two opposite meanings: волна бьет из под угла ( a wave beats from an angle) – 1) ‘about the abundance of something’, 2) ‘about extreme poverty’.

Nevertheless, the phenomenon of such ambiguity also indicates the depth of creating an image that allows the use of DPU in speech in opposite meanings, for example: “ фруктов там много, фсе, как вална, с-пад угла бьет там ” (there are a lot of fruits there like a wave beats from an angle) и “ вдови бедна жывуть, у-них волны с-пад угла бьють ” (“the widow is poor to live, the waves beat the angle” (RDDD).

In those cases when the two meanings of the same combination of components in a phraseological unit do not have a single common seme and rely on different facets of the image, they should be considered homonymous. Such units are also found in the DDPU circle: заливать пожар 1 (fight a fire) – ‘in a wedding ritual: pour with water lighted scarves doused with vodka’, and заливать пожар 2 (fight a fire) – ‘play cards’ (RDDD); хлопать ноздрями 1 (slam nostrils) – ‘do not understand something while listening’ and хлопать ноздрями 2 (slam nostrils) – to get angry’ (RDDD).

The process of distinguishing between multi-meaning units from homonymous DDPU can be illustrated by the following Table 02 .

Table 2 -
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As we can see, the units presented in the table, with the exception of the meanings formulated in row I, do not have common seme. Therefore, DDPU слабый на уторы 1 and слабый на уторы 2 ; ( идти / ходить ) как лында 1 and ( идти / ходить ) как лында 2 should be regarded as homonymous.

If the phraseological polysemy is based on the actualization of different potential seme, then the phraseological synonymy is based on the actualization of one potential seme in different units.

The synonymous relations of phraseological units can be fully represented with intra-dialectal and line examination: popular phraseology – dialect phraseology. The researchers of dialect phraseology (Fedorov, Orel, Zakharov, Sokolova and others) follow this path.

A common case in Don dialects is the accumulation of multi-structural synonymous DPU. For example, with the general meaning ‘to disappear into thin air, the following units are used утечь с коломутной водой (RDDD: Sh, 174) and нет призраку (RDDD: Sh, 57); with the general value ‘to move slowly’ such units ходить как линь по дну (RDDD: II, 116) and ходить, идтиотреся ножку (PSRLD: W, 181), идти с ножки на ножку (PSRLD: II, 187), etc. are used.

DPU with a single common meaning, but with different combination are not true synonyms. For example, let us compare DDPU with a common meaning ‘very fast’ – бешеным порядком , в два / три ножичка и в три руки . Different situations of the use of these similar in meaning DDPUs deprive them of synonymy: In some cases, with significant commonality, the meanings of two DDPUs can not nevertheless be qualified as synonyms, because their categorical meanings do not match: Устя рукава спустя ‘sloppy man’ (PSRLD: III, 173) and растрепать губы ‘be sloppy’ (PSRLD: III, 68). By the nature, the systemic relations of DDPU do not differ from the paradigmatic relations, which include common dialect phraseological units (CPUs), as a result of which synonymous relations are revealed both in unambiguous DDPU and in individual phrase-semantic variants of polysemic DDPU (i.e., in multi-meaning DDPU taken in separate values), when one of these semi-meaning DPUs turns out to be equivalent in meaning to the motivating seme of other DPUs (Table 03 ).

Table 3 -
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Synonymy is manifested in the circle of various phraseological semantic groups of DDPU. For example in Don dialect phraseology there are many synonyms that emotionally evaluate a person’s statements. This group of DDPU in the card system is represented by five synonymous series: 1) with the meaning ‘to talk on insignificant topics, to spend time talking’: баланду переть (RDDD: I, 14); трепать дуру (SWG: I, 142); 2) with the meaning ‘to talk about obviously insignificant things’: разговаривать о зеленых ящерицах (RDDD: Sh, 79); разводить кросна (RDDD: Sh, 78); 3) with the meaning ‘to speak nonsense’: точать ерунду , (RDDD: I, 147); разводить толды-ялды (RDDD: Sh, 78); 4) ‘to lie a lot’: не взять в зубы (PSRLD: I, 66); накидать галок (RDDD: I, 94); 5) ‘to gossip’: бить клы ( (RDDD: II, 62), тянуть в игольное ушко (RDDD: Sh, 167).

In addition, there are many synonymous series of DPU, which characterize labor processes and a person who approved himself in work and society. Synonyms are also frequent in the description of external features of a person. The active representation of their synonyms is explained by the already noted constant need for speakers to update expressivity, the degree of “ideology” (expression of B.A. Larin) of a particular phrase-semantic group.

In the ratio of CPU and DDPU, a greater number of synonyms are revealed in the dialect system, which indicates a high expressivity of dialect phraseological units supported by various entities (Table 04 ).

Table 4 -
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A semantic comparison of CPU and non-terminological DDPU is revealed by the fact that in the dialect phraseological system there are units that do not have identical meaning in the common language, for example: бросить кинуть / забросить / повесить лапти на телефон / телеграф – 'about nonresidents who came to live on Don with the Cossacks' (RDDD: II, 107), жить, как хохол на отживе – 'to live temporarily' (RDDD: II, 211), воспитать иголкой 'to raise children with money earned by sewing' (RDDD: I, 77), казачья развязка – 'display of courage, dexterity (of Cossacks)' (RDDD: Sh, 78), ни губ, ни зуб – 'about a disabled person' (RDDD: I, 117) etc. Of course, it is hard to state that the data of DDPU do not have any correspondences in the phraseological systems of other Russian dialects. The exhaustive comparison of phraseological units in this regard should be made.

The differences in the internal form of CPU and DPU lead to the fact that in most cases the coincidences in their semantics are only partial, which indicates the relative nature of their synonymy: CPU тише воды, ниже травы and DDPU куры загребут (RDDD: II, 101) ‘About a shy, timid man’. CPU in semantics contains the assessment of human behavior and DDPU includes in its semantics a message about the consequences of such behavior.

The depth of phraseological semantics, demonstrated by phraseological synonyms, is also revealed in the establishment of semantic contacts of phraseological units of antonymic type. In relation to different phraseological units according to semantic defining signs, researchers of dialect phraseology rarely pay attention to the antonymic connections in their circle (Lisenkova, 2018).

In reality everything that deviates from the norm, from the ordinary, averaged sample, falls under the phraseological attack. The material of the dialect phraseological units of Don dialects illustrates the wide possibilities of the antonyms in the format of dialect phraseology: жить как роскошная барыня – “to live, lack nothing” (RDDD: I, 156) – прядать через палку, камышину – “to live in poverty” (RDDD: Sh, 71); не браться ни за сухую порушину – ‘to keep hands in pockets’ (RDDD: Sh, 15O) – биться, как печенег —‘to work tirelessly, constantly ’(RDDD: Sh, 11); кожа-рожа – ‘about a brisk person’ (PSRLD: II, 66) – тихое лето – ‘about a very quiet man’ (PSRLD: II, 114); на язык, как на орган – ‘about a talkative person’ (RDDD: II, 206) – ни тпру ни мя – - ‘about a person who does not speak well (RDDD: Sh, 160), etc.

The determining differences in the antonym pairs of DDPU are structural, which are also admissible in the synonymic relationships of DPU. Another characteristic feature of dialect phraseological units-antonyms is the almost complete divergence of their lexical composition. The study of the phenomenon of phraseological antonymy of dialect material can lead to a broader understanding of this phenomenon, which allows the juxtaposition of meanings to more fully reveal the essence of things, phenomena and processes (Bragina, 1979).

The material of the dialect phraseological units of Don dialects illustrates the wide possibilities of the antonyms in the format of dialect phraseology: жить как роскошная барыня – “to live, not needing anything” (RDDD: I, 156) – прядать через палку, камышину – “to live in poverty” (RDDD: Sh, 71); не браться ни за сухую порушину – ‘to keep hands in pockets’ (RDDD: Sh, 15O) – биться, как печенег – ‘to work tirelessly, constantly ’(RDDD: Sh, 11); кожа-рожа – ‘about a brisk person’ (PSRLD: II, 66) тихое лето – ‘об очень тихом человеке’ (RDDD: II, 114); на язык, как на орган – ‘о болтливом человеке’ (RDDD: II, 206) – ни тпру ни мя – - ‘о человеке, плохо владеющем речью (RDDD: Ш, 160); ; как с Кеева Лукерья – ‘about a lazy person’ (RDDD: II, 123) – суетная Марина – ‘about a quick, agile woman’ (RDDD: II, 130); мастер Анохрий – ‘miserable master’ (SWDG: I, 5) – на все лихи мастер – ‘handyman’ (SWDG: II, 117); прибиться к рукам – ‘become decent’ (PSRLD: W, 53) – сбиться с ноги – ‘get out of the way’ (PSRLD: W, 106); из жиру вон – ‘about a fat man’ (PSRLD: I, 155) – кожа да рожа – ‘about a very thin man’ (PSRLD: II, 65); три тарары – 'very little' (RDDD: Sh, 154) – ряса рясою – “about a large amount of something” (RDDD: Sh, 101), ходить отреся ножку – “to move slowly” (RDDD: Sh, 181) – лететь, как стрепет – 'to move fast' (RDDD: II, 113), etc.

Purpose of the Study

The study was conducted in order to demonstrate one of the facets of the Russian national language – dialect phraseology as part of Don Russian dialects, and to identify their identity and measure of their relevance to popular phraseology (Stoynova, 2014).

 The active functioning of DPU in the dialect system under the existing common phraseological units (CPU) is explained by the motivation for the evaluation of DPU, “the element of their content, which is called the internal form and which finds support in the surrounding reality, in a particular environment where the speakers of dialect speech live” (Fedorov 1980). The determination of the types of communication within a dialect phraseological system allows revealing the features of the formation of semantic fields of dialect phraseological units.

Research Methods

During the study of the semantic connections and relations of DDPU as signs in the system of Russian Don dialects they were compared with CPU and the systemic relations between phraseological units within Don dialects was observed.


The significant part of the study is devoted to one of the most important types of communication within the semantic field – synonymous relations. Taking into account the relativity of established synonymic relations in the conditions of inequality of the initial image, which also results in inequality in the semantization of a certain attribute, the multiplicity of DPU – synonyms can be explained by their ability to reflect the accuracy nuance of the defined signs and concepts.

The results of the comparison of relative synonyms of nationwide and dialect levels demonstrates the peculiarity of figurative representations in DDPU: вывести на чистую воду (CPU) – вывести на склизкое (RDDD: Sh, 122).

The first phraseological unit figuratively represents the situation of evidence of an unseemly act, like reflection in pure water, while the second phraseological unit deepens the situation of revealing an unseemly act by the desperation of a situation of a perpetrator of this act, echoing semantics with another popular phraseological unit – припирать к стене .


The presence of a significant number of polysemantic DDPU is explained by the exhaustive nature of their semantics: the actualization of various potential seme. A large number of multi-meaning DDPU is characteristic of dialect phraseology in comparison with phraseological units of the formal Russian language. The expressive functions of DPU also determine the frequency of their use in comparison with the nationwide synonymous phraseological units, for example (in the meaning “too thin person”): кожа да кости (CPU) – кожа да рожа (RDDD: II, 65), худой как успенская селедка (RDDD: Sh, 113); от горшка два вершка (CPU) – свинячий подставок (RDDD: Sh, 109); водой не разольешь (CPU) – седелка да подпруга (RDDD: Sh, 113).

Anthonymic relations in phraseology are less developed than synonymic ones.

Phraseological antonymy is universal and arises as a part of dialect phraseology of Russian Don dialects, reflecting the perception of the world by the speakers of the dialect. The universal nature of antonymy allows its use in representing extralinguistic reality, taking into account the experience gained by the speakers of dialect.

Nowadays the study of the phraseology of modern Russian dialects is possible on the basis of many dialect lexicographic sources, materials of dictionaries in which the phraseological spectrum of dialects of different regions is recorded. The understanding the essence of the dialect phraseological unit itself is based on the determination of the identity of its semantics: an active manifestation of the phenomenon of synonymy, not inferior to this phenomenon in vocabulary; the relative nature of the synonymy of phraseological units of formal and dialect language; active expressive frequency functioning in speech; detailed nuance of speech positive and negative reactions; the presence of ethnically marked lexical units, etc.

The crisis of identity does not significantly violate its composition at this stage of the functioning of dialectic phraseology of Don dialects.


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27 February 2021

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National interest, national identity, national security, public organizations, linguocultural identity, linguistic worldview

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Alakhverdieva, L. K., Fomina, O. A., & Potanina, O. Y. (2021). Identity As A Dialect Marker In The Semantics Of Phraseological Units. In I. Savchenko (Ed.), National Interest, National Identity and National Security, vol 102. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 265-273). European Publisher.