Russian Culture Codes (On The Example Of The Russian Language Zoonyms)
The paper shows the development trends of the content of the zoomorphic code in the modern Russian-speaking speech use (by the example of the zoonyms of the Russian language). The study used the method of continuous sampling, introspection, the method of analysis of dictionary definitions, methods of component analysis, contextual and interpretive analysis. Results. It is shown that the zoonymic vocabulary of the Russian language can perform characterizing, invective and interjection functions in speech. The zoonym in the characterizing function most often gives a negative assessment to a person, but does not induce him to action, does not affect him. The invective function (the function of insult) is presented as a way to induce action, since the insult aims to get a reaction from the addressee of the insult and confirm or increase the status of the insulting one. The main feature of the interjection function of a zoonym is the implementation of the pragmatic semantics of this group of words. The study revealed the dynamics of Russian cultural codes towards positivization, anthropologization and simplification of stylistic diversity as the tendencies in their development. The study of the functioning of zoonyms in such types of contexts as stating, neutralizing and stimulating, revealed a tendency to neutralize animalistic features and strengthen anthropological ones. The results of the study can be applied in the field of linguistic expertise, lexicographic practice, as well as in the field of teaching Russian as a foreign language.
Keywords: Zoonymsfunctionsculture codecultural meanings
The relevance of the work is due to the enduring desire of scientists to explore the linguistic picture of the world of a particular language as part of its culture, closely related to the traditions of the people and the linguistic competence of a native speaker. The choice of zoonyms in this sense is not accidental, since languages traditionally use the semantic sphere of “animals” as the basis for metaphorical understanding of the world around us, primarily of humans (Nikolaeva & Isaev, 2018). Zoonyms reflect cultural meanings, understood as ideational constructs associated with cultural objects (denotations) as signs, that is, being their informational, emotional, expressive content (meaning). Culture codes are embodied in signs (verbalized and non-verbalized), which makes it possible to distinguish zoonymic, somatic, spiritual, religious, magical, anthropological, color, bestiary, natural landscape, sound, floristic, temporary, food and other codes. The study of culture codes makes it possible to identify and systematize ethnocultural stereotypes and to discover the specificity of the cognitive activity of linguistic culture carriers (Avanesova & Kuptsova, 2015; Daulet et al., 2018; Frolova, 2019; Husnutdinov et al., 2019).
Within the framework of this study, culture codes are understood as an expression of cultural meanings.
The object of the research is zoonyms of the modern Russian language. The subject of research is cultural meanings formed in the text space of Russian linguoculture.
The study of the zoomorphic code of culture was carried out in science by identifying the features of the semantics of zoonyms (including phraseological components-zoomorphisms) and the specifics of its formation. It was noted that the meanings presented in the dictionaries of the Russian language do not always represent a complete picture of the lexical and semantic variants that are revealed in speech use. Researchers pay special attention to describing the origins of the figurative meaning of zoonyms, the role of mythological, folklore and literary traditions in the process of reflecting a picture of the world of a particular language by zoonyms (Kudryavtseva, 2015; Maslov, 2014).
Nevertheless, the extensive list of studies still does not include works where the cultural meanings formed by zoonyms are analyzed from the standpoint of their dynamics, trends in their development. This approach involves identifying the features of the functioning of zoonyms in texts. This is the novelty of this work;
The work raises the following research questions:
Purpose of the Study
The aim of the work is to show the development trends of the content of zoomorphic code in the modern Russian-language speech use (by the example of the zoonyms of the Russian language). In this work, modern speech use is understood as the use of the lexeme in the texts of fiction and journalistic literature of the XX XXI centuries. The study of such use makes it possible to determine the change in semantic content depending on a specific speech situation. The latter in this work is called the dynamics of cultural meanings.
The research methods were the method of continuous sampling, introspection, the method of analyzing dictionary definitions, methods of component analysis, contextual and interpretive analysis. The study of the dynamics of cultural meanings is carried out in the direction of “language → speech”, “norm → usus”. Therefore, the work presents the formulations of “information quanta”, called meanings and fixed in dictionaries, and then examines the implementation of these meanings in speech use, denoting the function and functioning of zoonyms in texts.
The material of the research was presented by examples of verbal use of zoonyms from the National Corpus of the Russian Language (National Corpus of the Russian Language, n.d.). The use of this source is fundamental for this work, since the materials of the National Corpus of the Russian language correspond to the principles of a descriptive description of the language, taking into account the linguistic intuition of native speakers. 130,000 words were analyzed, among which about 490 zoonyms were found.
Functions of zoonyms in the text
The characterizing function of zoonyms
Cultural meanings are revealed in this work in speech use, the analysis of which leads to the allocation of the following functions of zoonyms in the text: characterizing, invective and interjection.
When performing a characterizing function, a zoonym defines a person in terms of his behavior, actions and character traits (
However, our examples show the process of positivization of the figurative meaning of a zoonym in Russian-speaking speech practice. In this sense, we do not agree with the statement that “... the process of acquiring a figurative meaning by zoonyms sooner or later ends with the design of this meaning as negative-evaluative” (Maslov, 2014, p. 36).
Invective function of zoonyms
The use of the zoonym in the invective function aims to get the addressee to react to the insult and to confirm or increase the status of the offending one (Majuga, 2019). Inverse constructs and comparative constructs have invective potential. So, the use of the zoonym “
The difference between the characterizing and invective zoonymic lexeme is especially indicative, when this lexeme already contains the component “motivation” in its semantics. Compare: (1)
As the analysis of the material has shown, zoonyms are rarely used as an invective and their use is limited to the framework of oral speech. This is confirmed by the fact that in the above fragments the authors use zoonymic vocabulary exclusively when quoting colloquial speech.
Interjection function of zoonyms
As you know, the function of expressing emotions is characteristic of such a group of words as interjections. Interjections are distinguished serving the spheres of emotions and emotional assessments, expression of will and etiquette by their semantic functions. Most of the interjections with specialized semantic functions express negative emotions: contempt, neglect, and others (Shvedova, 1980).
The expression of negative emotions in zoonyms is due to the presence of pejorative connotations in their meaning. Thus, the pejorative connotation of the lexeme “
Analysis of the use of the zoonym “
In addition, an important condition for the manifestation of the “interjection” of a zoonym is desemantization of the main one (
It should be noted that such desemantization occurs when the zoonym is used not only in interjection, but also in characterizing and invective functions. Compare: (1)
The main feature of the zoonym's interjection function is, from our point of view, the implementation of the pragmatic semantics of this group of words. According to scientists, interjections are not just standard "emotive" units expressing inner experiences, but also a subclass of interjectives, distinguished on the basis of the criterion of the speaker's attitude to various objects (Shkapenko, 2017). With regard to the analyzed linguistic material, this means that examples with a zoonym word in the interjection function express not only the negative emotion of contempt (1), but also the pragmatics of the attitude to the object of perception (2).
Compare: (1) The Central Committee began to decide what to do with a hole of 100 million? The dollar, the dog, did not fall (National Corpus of the Russian Language, n.d.); (2) Three years ago, when Galkin issued the phrase: “Who is this howling? So this is the Baskov, dog!”, the singer's fans were terribly outraged (National Corpus of the Russian Language, n.d.). In both examples, the nomination object is represented by the zoonym “dog”: in example (1) it is a dollar, in example (2) it is Nikolai Baskov, a famous Russian singer. But if in example (1) the word “dog” is used as a clarification, which actualizes the emotiveness of the lexeme, then in example (2) - as a definition (application), emphasizing the attitude towards the famous singer.
Thus, the definition of the function of a zoonym in the text reveals one of the aspects of the dynamics of cultural meanings: the original purpose of a zoonym to give a negative characteristic to an object in modern speech use, when performing a characterizing function, can change its vector to the opposite. The contextual environment contributes to the formation of this connotation. Therefore, it is important to determine the types of contexts in which zoonyms occur.
The functioning of the zoonym in the text: types of contexts
The study of the functioning of zoonyms in the text revealed several types of contexts that actualize different cultural meanings: ascertaining, neutralizing, stimulating.
See: (1) - Not geese, but parrots. - You, my friend, note, maybe he is an overseas parrot ... - Why parrots? Very modestly and comfortably dressed (V. Aksenov. Star ticket); (2) - Don't you have your own brains? Are you a parrot - repeat after others? - she shouted (M. Traub. House in the South). In example (1) the original cultural meaning of the zoonym “parrot” is actualized - “variegated coloring of parrots”, which in relation to a person is assessed as a lack of taste in clothes, and in example (2) the emphasis is on the feature “thoughtless repetition after someone” as a characteristic of a parrot from a human point of view. The signs of a bird (animal, insect, fish) in such contexts are anthropocentric, that is, they highlight in a representative of the animal world what is important to a person, what he sees as the main thing in the behavior and appearance of the animal.
Comparative, dividing and opposed syntactic constructions are of particular interest for studying the dynamics of cultural meanings. The grammatical meaning of juxtaposition underlying these constructions allows us to more clearly identify the cultural meanings of interest to us. Studies in the field of changes in grammar related to cultural dynamics have shown that, for example, in classical fiction, the comparative character is less pronounced, the reader himself is invited to think out and complete the image, in contrast to modern fiction, where comparativeness is expressed directly, clearly visible and not requires explicit effort from the reader. The material under study showed that a parrot is compared in modern speech use with a canary and a monkey (1) (
It should be noted that less traditional comparisons of a parrot bird with a letterbox, an echo, and a prophet are noted in the fiction of the 30s. of the XX century. In modern fiction, stable comparisons predominate, recorded in the explanatory dictionaries of the Russian language (
The dynamics of cultural meanings as “information quanta” associated with cultural objects is found in speech use and should be conducted in the direction “language → speech”, “norm → usus”. The present study has shown that the approach “from language to speech” and “from norm to usus” reveals a change in the semantic spectrum of zoonyms. Their verbal use was revealed in the texts of fiction and journalistic works, since these texts are representative and presented in the National Corpus of the Russian Language (National Corpus of the Russian Language, n.d.), the use of which corresponds to the principles of a descriptive description of the language, taking into account the linguistic intuition of native speakers.
The isolation of animalistic and anthropological features of an object called a zoonym in modern speech use revealed the fact that the dynamics of cultural meanings is presented not only in a significant expansion and detailing of the features that are recorded in the dictionaries of the Russian language, but also in the selection of those features of the appearance and behavior of the animal (birds, insects, fish), which are fundamental for describing a person. Moreover, examples of the use of zoonyms in speech show the process of positivization of the figurative meaning of a word in Russian-language speech practice: the original purpose of a lexeme to give a negative characteristic to an object (invective) in modern speech use sometimes changes its vector to the opposite (non-invective).
The functions of zoonyms in modern Russian speech use are represented by three groups: characterizing, invective and interjection functions. When performing a characterizing function, a zoonym characterizes a person in terms of his behavior, actions and character traits, as well as his appearance. The zoonym in the characterizing function most often gives a negative assessment to a person, but does not induce him to action, does not influence him. The injective function of a zoonym is defined as a function of motivation to action and aims to achieve a reaction from the addressee of the insult and confirm or increase the status of the offending one. The interjection function is due to the presence of pejorative connotation in the meaning of zoonyms. Zoonyms in the interjection function express not only the negative emotion of contempt, but also the pragmatics of the attitude towards the object of perception.
The study of the functioning of zoonyms in such types of contexts as stating, neutralizing, and stimulating, revealed a tendency to neutralize animalistic features and strengthen anthropological ones. The signs of an animal (bird, insect, fish) in the stating contexts are anthropocentric, that is, they highlight what is important to a person, what he sees as basic in the behavior and appearance of the animal in a representative of the animal world. In neutralizing contexts, the zoonym is used in combination with adjectives that indicate anthropologization and generalization of cultural meanings. In stimulating contexts, the aspect of the idiomaticity of the zoomorphic metaphor is strengthened, that is, their “comprehensibility” for carriers of other cultures. The use of zoonyms in certain syntactic constructions (comparative, dividing and opposed) revealed the tendency of traditional and non-traditional comparison of an object not only with a person, but also with other realities of the cultural life of an ethnic group. Less traditional comparisons are noted in the fiction of the early twentieth century, while in modern fiction, stable comparisons, recorded in the explanatory dictionaries of the Russian language, prevail.
Thus, the study revealed its dynamics towards positivization, anthropologization and simplification of stylistic diversity as tendencies in the development of Russian cultural meanings of the zoomorphic code.
- Avanesova, G. A., & Kuptsova, I. A. (2015). Kody kul'tury: ponimaniye sushchnosti, funktsional'naya rol' v kul'turnoy praktike. [Culture codes: understanding the essence, functional role in cultural practice]. In the world of science and art: issues of philology, art history and cultural studies, 47, 28-37.
- Daulet, F. N., Anuar, S., Orazakynkyzy, F., Kenzhebayeva, A. A., & Dossymbekova, R. O. (2018). Cultural codes of ancient cults in Chinese and Kazakh phraseology. XLinguae, 11(2), 583-596. DOI:
- Evgenieva, A. P. (Ed.). (1984). Slovar' russkogo yazyka v 4-kh tomakh. Tom 4. S-Ya. [Dictionary of the Russian language: in 4 volumes. Vol. 4. S-Ya]. Russian language.
- Frolova, O. E. (2019). Sotsial'nyy status kuptsov v russkom yazyke: Nominativnyye i kharakterizuyushchiye priznaki [The social status of merchants in Russian: Nominative and characteristic features]. Studiaz Filologii Polskieji Słowiańskiej, 54. https://ispan.waw.pl/journals/index.php/sfps/article/view/sfps.1801
- Husnutdinov, D. H., Sagdieva, R. K., Sayfulina, F. S., Gatin, R. G., & Timerkhanov, A. A. (2019). Phraseological units in the Tatar language containing the component of can (küñel) (SOUL). XLinguae, 12(2), 41-50. https://doi.org/
- Khimik, V. V. (2004). Bol'shoy slovar' russkoy razgovornoy ekspressivnoy rechi [A large dictionary of Russian colloquial expressive speech]. Norint.
- Kudryavtseva, E. V. (2015). Frazeologizmy s komponentom-zoonimom [Phraseologisms with a zoonym component] DOG: linguistic and cultural commentary. Bulletin of Kostroma State University, 2, 131-134.
- Kuznetsov, S. A. (Ed.). (2000). Bol'shoy tolkovyy slovar' russkogo yazyka [Comprehensive Explanatory Dictionary of the Russian Language]. Norint.
- Majuga, N. N. (2019). Invektivnaya funktsiya russkikh zoonimov v aspekte lingvoekspertologii [Invective function of Russian zoonyms in the aspect of linguoexpertology]. Scientific notes of Petrozavodsk State University, 3(180), 108-112. DOI:
- Maslov, A. S. (2014). Zoometafory-invektivy v sovremennom russkom yazyke (eksperimental'noye issledovaniye) [Zoometaphors-invectives in modern Russian (experimental research)]: dissertation for the degree of candidate of philological sciences. Belgorod.
- National corpus of the Russian language. (n.d.). http://ruscorpora.ru
- Nikolaeva, N. V., & Isaev, Yu. N. (2018). Kratkiy obzor issledovaniy zoonimov [A brief overview of zoonyms research]. Chuvash University Bulletin, 4, 284-289.
- Ozhegov, S. I., & Shvedova, N. Yu. (1999). Tolkovyy slovar' russkogo yazyka [Explanatory dictionary of the Russian language]. 4th ed., Add. Azbukovnik.
- Shkapenko, T. M. (2017). O pragmaticheskom podkhode k opisaniyu mezhdometiy [About a pragmatic approach to the description of interjections]. Bulletin of Kemerovo State University, 1, 217-221. DOI:
- Shvedova, N. Yu. (Ed.). (1980). Russian grammar. T. I. Fonetika. Fonologiya. Udareniye. Intonatsiya. Slovoobrazovaniye. Morfologiya [Phonetics. Phonology. Stress. Intonation. Word formation. Morphology]. Science.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
About this article
Cite this paper as:
Click here to view the available options for cite this article.