Metaphorical Macromodels To Describe Regularities Of Secondary Nomination


The article discusses metaphorical macromodels, through which the regularities of semantic derivation, characteristic of certain groups of lexemes, can be described. More specific subtypes are distinguished within the framework of each macromodel to concretize it. The object of the research is metaphorical predicates with the meaning of ethical assessment in the Russian language considered in a synchronic aspect. Based on the data of the National Corpus of the Russian language, it has been revealed that a number of macromodels are involved in the process of metaphorizing these lexemes reflecting the directions of concrete and abstract concepts association. It has been established that the main models of metaphorization concerning the ethical sphere are presented in the form of the opposition ‘animation – reification’. Thus, in the course of metaphorical animation, the properties of a person possessing consciousness and will are assigned to an abstract concept. If a subject of speech transfers the qualities of a material object to an abstract ethical concept, the reification of the object is observed.

Keywords: Secondary nomination, metaphor, metaphorical macromodel, Russian language, predicates of ethical assessment


The growing interest of linguists in the problem of the content dynamics of linguistic units is quite explainable if we bear in mind such an important principle of modern linguistics as semantic centrism. In the last decade, this interest was focused on the processes of metaphorization, which very clearly demonstrated the selectivity of a human worldview being natural and at the same time largely illogical, a random nature of semantic convergence. At the same time, the degree of coverage of metaphorical transferences inherent in certain areas of the lexical system of the Russian language is not the same, and, therefore, the demand for research in this area is quite justified.

Problem Statement

In light of the foregoing, it is of great interest to identify and systematize models of semantic derivation characteristic of certain lexeme groups due to the fact that the results of such a study can contribute to solving a number of urgent problems of the theory of polysemy. These problems are stated within the framework of various linguistic disciplines being linguistic semantics (Fillmore & Atkins, 2000; Klein & Murphy, 2001; Murphy, 2010), semantic typology (Koch, 2001; Zaliznyak, 2013), cognitive semantics (Beretta et al., 2005; Haser, 2000; Kiseleva & Todosienko, 2019; Thibodeau & Boroditsky 2011), linguistic pragmatics (Matlock et al., 2017; Ondish et al., 2019; Peregrin, 2003), linguistic universology, etc. These problems include the following: dependence of semantic lexemes dynamics on actual linguistic and/or extra-linguistic (psychological, social, ethnocultural, etc.) factors; the universal/unique nature of the secondary lexemes meanings related to certain semantic groups in the same/different languages; regularity and productivity of semantic derivation models characteristic of lexemes of a certain denotative sphere; the rate of semantic changes in words of one group in different historical periods of the language development, etc. In this case, one of the most important problems seems to be to identify models of semantic derivation typical for lexemes belonging to one denotative area.

Research Questions

This work is devoted to the study of the most productive macromodels of metaphorical transference, characteristic of predicates of ethical assessment in the Russian language. The reference to this group of lexemes is primarily due to the fact that they clearly demonstrate the patterns of development of figurative meanings in the direction from the concrete to the abstract. In addition, it seems relevant to identify a set of semantic spheres associated with the derived values of these units.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the work is to identify macromodels that underlie regular polysemy in this area based on analyzing the semantic structure of the predicates of ethical assessment in the Russian language as well as particular models that concretize them. At the same time, the focus of our attention is primarily on such a type of secondary nomination as a metaphor, which largely reflects the cognitive mechanisms of associating concepts.

Research Methods

The factual material was studied based on the data of the National Corpus of the Russian language. The procedure for analyzing secondary predicates of ethical assessment was based on a number of methods of linguistic research: 1) methods and techniques of structural linguistics, in particular, the method of the semantic field, which involves identifying its elements, establishing relationships between them and their subsequent componential analysis; 2) methods of cognitive linguistics, first of all, modeling the relationship between the main and figurative meanings in terms of conceptual metaphor (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980); 3) methods of semantic typology including the establishment of macromodels of semantic shifts and their particular subtypes, according to which the structure of the polysemant can be schematically represented as a system of unidirectional connections of its individual meanings such as ‛grab’ → ‛understand’, ‛empty’ → ‛vain’, etc. (Zaliznyak, 2013). The mentioned methods were used in a complex while analyzing metaphorical predicates of ethical assessment, as a result of which polysemy models were identified. They represent the patterns of derived meanings occurrence, for example: ‘spatial characteristics → ethical assessment’, ‘property characteristics → ethical assessment’, etc. where the first member of the pair means the initial conceptual sphere associated with the main meaning, and the second one denotes the resulting sphere corresponding to the secondary meaning.


The analysis of the secondary predicates of ethical assessment resulted in distinguishing several large macromodels of metaphorization (groups of models) and individual subtypes within them, demonstrating a high degree of productivity and use.

I. Thus, within the macromodel ‘spatial characteristics → ethical assessment’ the following models were distinguished:

‘height characteristics → ethical qualities’: They didn’t find anything better than to offend a woman, a singer, a guest of the country. What a! (I. Arkhipova); Their and honorable motives turn out to be illusory and futile; romantically inclined characters are defeated, they suffer, perish or eventually come to terms with the “ignoble prose” of existence, they become philistines, and even careerists (V. Khalizev);

‘characteristic in size → ethical qualities’: Probably his great produced in her a cruel gnaw of conscience and repentance for her vile deed, and which finally made her faithful into death to her husband (M. Chulkov); You need to get to know her better, observe, see all her disgusting qualities -, garrulity, stupidity ... (M. Zosimkina);

‘characteristic of straightness/curvature → ethical qualities’: After all it is honesty and in achieving one’s goals that commands respect ([Oleg Satov, husband], collective. Forum); Mom could not (Z. Sinyavskaya);

‘characteristic of openness/closedness → ethical assessment’: <…> (A. Belinkov).

II. The macromodel ‘property characteristics → ethical assessment’ includes such models as:

‘being sold and purchased → possessing negative ethical qualities’: “A ... lackey ... minion... hireling... an agent ... Judas for thirty pieces of silver ...” - these were the words Lenin often used to say about his opponents (V. Grossman); <…> Be a fundamentalist physicist wearing an academic yarmulke, a deputy or any other in my shoes (V. Pelevin); A person incapable of honest labor is a professional of the dark paths, a dangerous weasel, a master of jiggery-pokery, and unscrupulous (M. Rogozhnikov); But in order for her to be convincing and to gain trust, we needed a person like you: honest, and principled! (V. Dotsenko);

‘characteristic of the presence / absence of material wealth → ethical assessment’:(A. Chekhov);(V. Meshchersky); (V. Turchin);

‘possessing or lacking material value → possessing or lacking ethical qualities’:(A. Rubanov).

III. The ‘physical characteristics → ethical assessment’ macromodel is perhaps the largest we have studied, and it includes the following metaphorical models:

‘characterization of cleanliness/filthiness → ethical assessment’: Fear for his own skin overwhelmed the “moral torment”: the concepts of “ of a doctor”, “the Hippocratic oath” have long been forgotten ... (G. Zhzhenov); Sonechka is a pure, bright soul, her childishness is fully revealed, it was this aspect of her character that was important for Dostoevsky! ([Schmidt, nick], collective. Forum); I would like to humiliate him, trample him, drag him through the mire (I. Potapenko); That is why attacks on the Russian idea, attempts to “cancel” it, it, throw mud at its spiritual humanistic principles are so sophisticated and aggressive (Russian idea: national and all-Russian // "Life of Nationalities", 2002.06.05);

‘characteristic of softness / hardness → ethical assessment’: It is him who has a... (V. Tendryakov); Neudobnov is a remarkable person, honest to god,communist of the Stalinist endurance (V. Grossman); In my opinion, you are either a or an arrogant ([Roche, nick], collective. Forum); Following the changes taking place in our reality, such words as mercy, decency, compassion, benevolence,, etc., turned out to be unclaimed (I. Miloslavsky);

‘temperature characteristic → ethical assessment’:(Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom));(V. Andreev);

‘characteristic according to the degree of fulfillment → ethical assessment’: (M. Petrosyan);

‘characterization by chemical properties → ethical assessment’: A was adherent to him together with a childish cordiality (K. Paustovsky); He had the following word in my ear: “Let me warn you, you are talking so frankly and affectionately with your neighbor, perhaps, not knowing that he is the most dangerous and” (F. Vigel).


As a result of our research, we came to the conclusion that the main models of metaphorization related to the ethical sphere are presented in the form of the opposition ‘animation - reification’. Thus, in the course of metaphorical animation, the properties of a person possessing consciousness and will are assigned to an abstract concept. On the contrary, if the subject of speech transfers the qualities of a material object, things to an abstract ethical concept, the object is reified. The examples are especially highlighted demonstrating the understanding of one or another ethical concept as a subject of struggle, opposition. They are included in the “animation” group in a semantic sense. Another type of metaphorical comprehension which we distinguished and which implies understanding the abstract essence of the moral and ethical sphere as a dominant subject in relations of subordination also belongs to it. It has been established that the secondary predicates of ethical assessment analyzed by us are not only a part of artistic speech as they penetrate everyday colloquial speech and are used in journalistic and scientific texts. The anthropometricity of a metaphor lies in the fact that a person denoting phenomena, actions, qualities and objects puts their own evaluative, emotive-evaluative and connotative content in these nominations. In the field of ethical assessment, such content is actualized to a special extent while a person cannot simply state whether an object is “good” or “bad” without experiencing personal relationship with this object. The anthropometricity of metaphor is also manifested in the fact that metaphorical nominees being a tool for the speaker’s evaluative activity characterize the personality of the subject of speech.


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Kiseleva, L. A., Todosienko, Z. V., & Vasilieva, A. Y. (2021). Metaphorical Macromodels To Describe Regularities Of Secondary Nomination. In D. K. Bataev, S. A. Gapurov, A. D. Osmaev, V. K. Akaev, L. M. Idigova, M. R. Ovhadov, A. R. Salgiriev, & M. M. Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Knowledge, Man and Civilization, vol 107. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 795-800). European Publisher.