Metaphor In Journalistic Essays Of V. M. Peskov


The genre of the essay is currently undergoing a process of transformation, while the goal of linguistic description of the genre typological features through the exemplary texts becomes clear. The research material is the essays of the famous publicist V. M. Peskov, which are recognized as exemplary in the journalistic community and are the subject of study in linguistics. The article uses a categorical-textual research method allows to identify the characterological features of the genre-textotype with a high degree of objectivity. The use of metaphor, through which the category of tonality is explicated, is more a feature of the writing style. In the journalistic style, a metaphor in the genre of an essay serves not only as a reflection of subjective modality, but also affects the explication of other textual categories, in addition to the category of tonality, thereby passing into the category of cognitive metaphors. The metaphor used in the title of the essay determines its compositional and thematic structuring. Explication of the topic category is performed using the logical principle of part-whole, where the whole is a metaphor, and the part - elements of reality, allowing the reader to understand the author's idea of the world, which is reflected in the composition of the essay genre. The explication of the theme category in the essay genre may partially coincide with the categories of space and time, which increases the semantic density of the text and is a genre-forming feature of the essay, due to its brevity.

Keywords: Cognitive metaphoressaygenretext categoriesV M Peskov


The study of metaphor as a way of knowing reality is a modern linguistics matter of interest: researchers describe the role and types of metaphor in various discourses (Bogdanovich et al., 2019; Borodulina & Makeeva, 2016; Degtyarenko & Kuritskaya, 2018; Kameneva, 2020; Kondratyeva & Kameneva, 2020; Vepreva et al., 2019), the functions of metaphor in the development of reality and the inner world of man (Babin et al., 2020; Bykova, 2014; Eloeva et al., 2014; Ivashkevich, 2016; Mongileva & Chudinov, 2019). At the same time, the description of the metaphor role in creating a coherent text that reflects the process of cognition, in the linguistics of the text has not yet been researched enough.

Problem Statement

The essay is traditionally considered one of the leading genres of journalism. “Essay is a writing and journalistic genre that combines documentary features (based on real life facts), analytic features (research) and the writing form of the text” (Matveeva, 2003, pp. 214-215).

There are different classifications of the essay: journalistic, story, portrait, sketch/etude, travel (Kolosov, 1977); pictorial (travel, essay, sketch), artistic and publicistic style (portrait), research (problem, research, publicistic) (Kim, 2011). Depending on the subject of attention the following subgenres of the essay are distinguished: portrait essay, the character of which is taken from the reality; problem essay – the main task of the author is publicistic problem coverage; travel essay is based on the author's story about the journey (Tertychny, 2017, pp. 249-268). The subject of our research is a travel essay, which, having formed as a genre in the XIX century is a description of places, events and meetings during the trip and travel (Tertychny, 2017, p. 262).

The research data were the texts of the famous journalist V. M. Peskov, whose essays can be considered exemplary. V. M. Peskov's essays are an important empirical material for scientific research in the field of linguistics.

Research Questions

Today, the genre of essay loses its former popularity, ceases to function in both writing and journalistic writing styles, transforming in the latter into genres conditioned by the new digital reality, for example, longread (problem essay), travel essay (Klushina et al., 2017; Klushina & Ivanova, 2018). At the same time, essays that have become classic in Russian journalism can serve as a model, an invariant, the study of which contributes to the identification of characterological genre features that allow further production of essay texts on the model.

3.1. How is the compositional structuring of the essay text implemented when it has a metaphorical title?

3.2. How is explicated theme category in the essays with the metaphorical title?

3.3. How are the categories of time and space presented in essays with a metaphorical title?

3.4. How do text categories in essays correlate with a metaphorical title?

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to identify the ways to reflect cognitive metaphorical processes in essay texts.

The goal is being approached through the following tasks: selection of material that reflects the cognitive processes through a metaphor; categorical-textual analysis of essays that allows identifying the author's characteristic techniques for reflecting text cognitive processes; description of typological models for creating a text based on a cognitive metaphor.

Research Methods

The change in the scientific paradigm of modern linguistics is a turn from a comparative historical and system-structural paradigm to an anthropocentric one led to the active study of the text as one of the key concepts of the Humanities of the XX century. The categorical-textual concept (Matveeva, 1990) is based on the integral quality of the text – the super-category of communication, which allows us to justify a systematic approach to the text as an object of linguistic research.

In this study, the text categorical concept is adopted, according to which the text is interpreted as a system of textual categories (typological text features), each has a symbolic nature and is characterized by unity of content and multi-level compositional manifestation. The speech embodiment of each text category corresponds to the extralinguistic setting of the text and has its own specifics in relation to the functional style of the literary language (Matveeva, 1990). We believe that this corresponds to a similar object of a lower level of abstraction than the functional style, namely, the genre-textotype within a particular functional style.

The principle of selecting text categories for analysis in this study is dictated by the intention to determine a category structure that reflects the main communicative text components, taking into account the non-textual communicative situation. The set of text categories selected for analysis in the study includes: theme (theme category is reflected in the text language object that is the author’s reality), composition (class composition reflects the development of the theme in the text), chronotope (category text time and space necessary for the organization of thematic development). These categories generally reflect the beyond-textual communication situation and, above all, its pragmatic line.


Let's pay attention to the results of the analysis. Metaphors are widely used by the author in the title as the strong position of the text since they represent the whole text, rolled to brief remarks, often consisting of one or two words (Matveev, 2003, p. 74). Matveeva (2003) emphasizes several types of titles: informative, revealing the contents of the text; impacting, that contains mystery and convey the mood, taking into account semantic relations of title and main text; event-driven, representing the event; thematic, containing the theme of the text; associative, expressing the idea of the text (Ibid, p. 74). The title, as a mandatory part of the text, simultaneously performs different functions: nominative, predictive, structuring, identifying, substituting, and signaling. There are also special functions of the title that are characteristic for fiction: metaphorical, metonymic, symbolic, and evaluative (Trubnikova, 2010, p. 121).

According to Grigoriev (1979), “the text, generally speaking, acts as an individual, extremely common “paraphrase” of the title. The title for its part is if not a paraphrase (for example, in the case of a one-word title), but some “monstrously condensed” abbreviation of the text. (p. 194).

Analysis of the titles in the Collected works of Peskov (2014) in 23 volumes showed that each title is a combination of two or three words, and most of the titles are metaphorical (On the Winter Trail, The River and Life, Friends from the Den, Undressed Spring, In the Grass Jungle, Winter Lodgers, Rye Song, Captured Mystery, The World in the Palm of Your Hand, Winter Chimes, Golden Sunsets). The titles implement not only nominative, but also, due to their metaphorical nature, impacting functions. The title, understood as the collapsed content of the text, is a strong position and traditionally reflects the theme category.

Functional-semantic type of speech presentation is used by V. M. Peskov in his essays about nature; dynamic description that is built “on the object movement characteristi, the transfer of the equitable action, the sequence of events, the viewpoint change or view direction change” (Matveeva, 2003, p. 198). The main theme of the essay is divided into a number of microthemes that are subordinate to the main one and reveal its content.

We turn now to the essay texts. Thus, in the essay “Forest tale” in the metaphorical title contains a reference to the main theme of the text, which is dedicated to the beauty of the forest. The main theme is divided into four microthemes: “The Rowan”, “The Oak”, “The Mushroom”, “The Apple Tree”. Revealing “The Rowan” microtheme, the author, along with the direct rowan nomination (a) in a strong position of the beginning and end of the microtheme, uses additional lexically new nominations corals (b), necklace (d), coral beads (e), three red beads (f), metaphorically reflecting the relations principle “part – whole”; the secondary nomination beauty (c). Thematic chain of this microtheme is a b c d a e f, and that highlights the diversity of the used nominations.

The similar scheme is used by the author in a number of texts. The metaphorical title defines the compositional and thematic structuring of the essay. Thus, the metaphor “In the Grass Jungle” in the title of the essay reflects the theme category and is the primary nomination. Dynamic description allows to look at different characters in the essay, which determines the text development. Let us refer to the explanatory dictionary: «Jungle. Low-growing dense forest thickets in the flood valleys of India; tropical dense swampy forests. The law of the jungle - about open arbitrariness and violence” (Evgenieva, 1985, p. 396).

The movement of the author's gaze from character to character determines the essay composition. The author describes the inhabitants of the grass jungle – ladybug, soldier. The first two microthemes dedicated to ladybug and soldier, respectively, are concise, and the thematic chains within each microthemes are not diverse. Lexically, new categories are used, based on genus-species relations: ladybug – bug; soldier – a real hard worker; substitutes: soldier – he. The third theme is dedicated to the spider, and represents a diverse set of explications of theme category. The author uses reference-identical concepts with negative connotations; substitutes; zero nominations as additional lexical categories. Let's describe the thematic chain of the third microtheme “Spider”: bloodsucker – murderer – bandit – he – – himself – bandit – bandit – himself – – his – bandit.

In general, the theme category, stated in the metaphorical title, develops using the logical principle “part-whole”. The author narrates about the inhabitants of the grass jungle, implementing, in particular, the theme of violence.

It is important to notice that the metaphorical title, in addition to the theme category, reflects the category of space. The author uses direct spatial pointers and lexemes with a spatial meaning. In grass jungle – underfoot – in the meadow between the stems of “grass jungle” – white with yellow flower – misty grass greenery – in twenty centimeters from the lens – in the “grass jungle” – in your camp – in the jungle – here – between the blades of grass – in curled yellow leaves – from the dark cave – in a dark corner – in the place where the web is thicker – here.

The space category nominations correspond, on the one hand, to the main title “in the grass jungle”, and, on the other hand, are explicated through grammatical transformations in the jungle, substitutes here, the logical principle “whole – part” is used, when the author, following the characters, details the space. Overlapping with each other, the categories of theme and space run through the entire text, retaining its compositional structure.

Let's turn to the text of the essay “Undressed spring”. The metaphorical title is the basic category of the theme, which is also contained in the last paragraph as a grammatical transformation, creating a circular composition: the time of undressed spring. Following the logical relationship between the concepts of whole-part, the author consistently builds microthemes, each of them corresponding to one of the facets of the metaphor undressed spring, and both components of the metaphor are revealed throughout the text. Undressed spring is a specific time period of time seme contained in the subject chain undressed spring (a) – period (b) – about ten days (c) – time (d) – time (d) – undressed spring (a), which allows us to combine categories of themes and time, allowing to condense the semantic fabric of the text. The main technique used by the author is to replace the basic nomination with reference identical nominations: period (b), about ten days (c), time (d); and also with a grammatical transformation: time of undressed spring (a). The main thematic chain looks like this: a b c d d a, which allows us to draw a conclusion about the variety of categories used.

Unfolding the metaphor undressed spring, the author uses the functional and semantic type of speech description and consistently places in the text of the essay microthemes Land, Sounds of Undressed Forest, Colors of Undressed Forest, which correspond to the compositional elements. Let us consider this in more detail.

V. M. Peskov first turns his gaze to the land from which the snow melted: The earth has thrown off the snow, but it is not yet dressed in green. The description of the earth from which the snow has melted and which has either dried up completely, or there is still water on it, the underworld where the mice folk live, allows us to reveal one of the semantic parts of undressed spring metaphor, and it is the first compositional element. Snowmelt is explicated using the following categories: snow (a) – high water (b) – a lot of water (c) – water (c) – water (c) – with snow (a) – snow (a) – under snow (a) – spring waters (d) - snow water (e). The basic category is water (c), snow is a lexically new additional taxonomic category, and since snow and water are different states of substance, the main category is snow (a). Varied themed chain this microtheme a b c c c a a a d e confirms the idea about the location of the essay genre at the intersection of journalistic and writing styles.

Mice live underground, and the melting of snow has led to the fact that Now the mice kingdom is accessible to the eye. The microtheme Mice use the following nominations: mouse (a) – life (b) – this (c) – life (b) – mouse (a) – kingdom (d) – they (e) – mouse (a) – folk (f) – he (g) – mouse (a) – state (h) – pickings (i) – mouse (a) – tail (j). Basic nomination mouse (a) is the primary (5 repetitions in the text); lexically new categories kingdom (d), state (h) is synonymous with allusions to folklore – in a certain kingdom, in a state; lexically new units folk (e), referentially identical nomination pickings (i); lexically new taxonomic nominations, synecdoche tail (j); taxonomic nomination with a transition to a higher generalizing level in relation to the other additional categories life (b); substitutes – demonstrative pronoun this (c); personal pronouns they (d), he (g). A Small number of substitutes indicates the richness and diversity of the use of lexical means.

The next facet of the metaphor undressed spring is the sounds of the forest: The undressed forest is transparent, light and vociferous. The logical part-whole structure helps to organize a given text fragment along different semantic lines. So, the forest is birds, insects, that is, the forest folk. Forest (a) – thrushes (b) – starling (c) – finch (d) – woodpecker (e) – lapwings (f) – lark (g) – this (h) – ants (i) – ant (stomping) (i) – ant (trails) (i) - forest folk (j).

The forest folk fill the forest with different sounds, this is another semantic line through which the key metaphor is revealed: The undressed forest is vociferous. Vociferous (a) – yell (b) – whistles (c) – rumbles (d) – on the hollow (e) limb – creates a song (f) – shout (g) – rings (h) – you hear a rustle (i) - stomp is heard (j).

Latest composition fragment is associated with microtheme The Colors of Undressed Forest. The color theme is explicated in the following categories: lemon color (a) – brownish (b) – purple-pink paint (с) – blooms (d) – they bloom (d) – yellow stars (e) – flowers (f) – flowering willows (g) – blooming diverse (h) – yellow lanterns (i) – pearl small (j) – silver sheep (k) – brownish-red time (l) – green smoke (m) – green smoke (m) – green noise (n).

The basic category is color; taxonomic lexically new categories are lemon color (a), brownish (b), purple-pink paint (c), yellow stars (e), flowering willows (g), yellow lanterns (i), pearl small (j), silver sheep (k), brownish-red time (l), green smoke (m), green noise (n); grammatical transformations: blooms (d), they bloom (d); referentially identical nominations: blooming diverse (h).


So, the metaphor placed in the title of the text in the genre of the essay determines its thematic and compositional deployment. “Unfolding” the metaphor, the author consistently, in accordance with the logical part – whole principle and the laws of composition, arranges microthemes, each of which reveals one of the semantic facets of the key metaphor. Explication of the topic category occurs due to a variety of additional lexical categories: synonyms, reference-identical categories, and transformations are used. In some cases, the theme category is combined with the categories of time and space, which allows to increase the semantic density of the essay text.


The research was supported by the RFBR (Russian Foundation for Basic research) as part of the research project 19-012-00399 A “Axiological capacity of the modern Russian metaphor”.


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Itckovich, T., & Jiaojiao, C. (2021). Metaphor In Journalistic Essays Of V. M. Peskov. In E. V. Toropova, E. F. Zhukova, S. A. Malenko, T. L. Kaminskaya, N. V. Salonikov, V. I. Makarov, A. V. Batulina, M. V. Zvyaglova, O. A. Fikhtner, & A. M. Grinev (Eds.), Man, Society, Communication, vol 108. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 1088-1094). European Publisher.