Structuring The Space In The Languages Of Different Cultures And Traditions


The article deals with the peculiarities of space structuring in languages of different typologies. Special attention is paid to the Dagestanian languages where numerous means of space verbalization at morphological, syntactic and lexical levels are introduced. Deictic systems of Indo-European languages characterize the localization of objects at the similar horizontal level with communicants, with two deictic centers (an addresser and an addressee). Many Dagestanian languages have deictic systems which characterize object localization relative to the landmark both in horizontal and vertical directions. In these systems there is only one deictic center – a speaker (the first person). English has a minimal number of deictics, which differentiate the space localization ( ~The Russian and German deictic systems consist of three units; In Dagestanian languages there are differentiated deictic systems with the number of deixis from 5 to 11 units. There are three centers of deixis in the Andiy languages: 1) in the location of the first person; 2) in the location of the second person; 3) outside the location of the communicants. Every deictic center is introduced with three deixes, expressing object location “near”, “higher” and “below” the center. Deictic pronouns in Avar-Andiy languages differ not only in denoting but also by the presence/absence of the object in the sight. The fricative – has a demonstrative function in the structure of these pronouns. Almost all deictic pronouns in Avar-Andiy languages are introduced by two variants: with the element– in the structure of the pronoun and without it;

Keywords: Dagestanian languages, space verbalization, deictic system


Space connections between different objects in the world around a man are expressed in all languages. Every language has a certain peculiarity in space verbalization due to its grammar structure and ethnic perception by native speakers. Dagestanian languages are of special interest in this case due to their network of preverbs and postpositions, numerous locative cases and deictic words, expressing spacial relationships in a different way.

Problem Statement

1. Linguistic elements of space representation in languages of different typologies, different cultural traditions are not equal. For the linguistics it is important not only state these differences but determine the source of origin of the language units for space verbalization, nature and the development trend of these units.

2. Dagestanian languages allow determining deictonimic origin of lexical units for space verbalization.

Research Questions

The entire world surrounding a person has spacial parameters. These parameters are objective and do not depend on the subjective interposition of a person perceiving the space.

1. Space category is universal in a language. As every language verbalizes the space in its own way, then space categories of different languages do not coincide and depend on the subjective interposition of a person perceiving the space.

2. The system of space localization consists of two subsystems: substantive (nominal) and active (verbal). The article deals with a part of the first subsystem expressed with deictic words.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this article is to study lexical means of space verbalization in Dagestanian languages involving Indo-European languages. A number of deictic centers have been determined in the studied languages in order to establish the anthropocentricity of the deictic systems.

Research Methods

The main method applied is a multi-aspect complex analysis. For studying semantics a method of structural-semantic analysis, methods of structural organization and deictic pronouns functioning have been applied. To describe and analyze lexical means of space verbalization a descriptive-analytical as well as comparative-typological methods have been applied.


The conceptual category of space, as a result of physical space verbalization is represented in all languages, as categories of space and time are universal ways of perceiving reality. However, languages, even closely related structure the space differently. Every culture has its own model of the world, founded on basic categories of space and time. In some languages the category of space receives a differentiated verbalization, in others – less differentiated (Karimipour et al., 2019). The peculiarity of structuring space depends both on the grammar system and peculiarities of national-cultural perception of space by the native speakers.

Languages differ by ways and means of space verbalization at every level of a language: phonetic, morphological, syntactical, and lexical.

There is only one way of representing distance in space from the speaker at the phonetic level it is elongation of the root vowel of the demonstrative particles, for example: Russian(away from the addresser)and(absolutely far from the addresser).(far from the addresser) and (very far from the addresser)

Spacial relations are represented rather differently at the morphological level in Dagestanian languages, where can be up to 40 locative cases (the Tabasaranian language). Formants of locative cases express certain place (“on”, “above”, “in”, “near”, “under”) or movement in space (from the landmark, from under the landmark, from within the hollow and solid space, towards the landmark, to the landmark and others). Spacial preverbs are genetically related with the formants of the locative cases (they exist not in all Dgestanian languages). Preverbs express spatial relations more differently than the formants of locative cases. There are 52 spatial preverbs alone in Khurkilinsk dialect of Darginsk language (Abdullaev, 1993).

At the syntactic level the spatial relations are represented by postpositional/prepositional constructions and complex sentences with the subordinate clause of space.

Space is verbalized more differently at the lexical level. There is a wide range of demonstrative words here, whose deictic meaning is their lexical meaning. These lexical units are “deictic words”. Deictic speech units make a single functional field of pragmatic markers, structuring the utterance as a unit of speech interaction (Alferov, 2001). According to Fillmore (1982), deixis names those aspects of the language, whose interpretation depends on the speech situation: time before and after the speech, speaker’s position at the time of speech and speaker’s personality and the audience. Deictics are demonstrative pronouns, adverbs of place, pronominal adverbs and demonstrative particles. Deictics form a close group of semantically related words of different parts of speech. Space deixis or “first deixis” (Paducheva, 2010) shows localization (position) or orientation (movement) of the object or situation in space relative to the “deictic center” (Plungian, 2011). A deictic center is a position of the addresser in space at the moment of speech.

The most common and simple is a deictic system, represented by the correlation: “near the speaker (in the region of the first person)” = “HERE” ~ “far from the speaker (outside the region of the first person)” = “THERE”. This system is the most egocentric as the position of the subject perceiving the space (in the region of the first person = here), is sharply defined and opposed to the position outside the subject, perceiving the space (outside the region of the first person = here). The second position of this correlation is rather vague, has no distinct limits and includes both the speakers space (the second person), and the space of the third person who is more distant from the addresser (Bohnemeyer, 2001). This system of representation for the space localization in horizontal direction is characteristic for most Indo-European languages.

The minimal number of deictic words, differentiating the space localization is in the English language. They are demonstrative pronouns (pl.) ~(pl.) pronominal adverbs here ~They express not only correlation between the speaker and the listener, but between the space in the region of the first person and all other space (Petrenko, 2015).

A similar system of deictic pronouns is in the Russian and German languages:“this” (in the region of the first person) ~ “that” (out the region of the first person). What about deictic adverbs, Russian and German languages have nearly identical systems, more complex than the English language. The system of deictic adverbs in the German language consists of three units:German adverb is a full semantic and functional equivalent of the Russian deictic, and the adverb is a functional and semantic equivalent of the Russian deictic. Russian deictic adverbs anddenoting space localization in the region of the first person, there is not only a stylistic difference:is used in the literary discourse andin the everyday. The differences are in their representation of space. For example, the report from the place of rest: (covers all the forest) (close to the speaker, within his visual perception)That is the space semantics expressed by these adverbs does not coincide. The adverbcovers less space than the adverb.

If ZDES’ is uniquely the region of the speaker (I), then TAM is not only the addressee region (YOU), but also the sphere of the third person (HE). The space characteristics of TAM is wider, then the space characteristic of ZDES’, as TAM means anywhere, except the region of the speaker (Chilton, 2014). A more complex deictic system, consisting of the three elements somewhat shades the light on the situation: “close to the speaker” (I) – “close to the addressee” (YOU) – “far from both the speaker and the addressee” (HE). This deictic system is in all Dagestanian languages, for example, in the Avar language: “her” – “close from the speaker” –“here/there” “close from the “addressee” and “there” – “far from the speaker and the addressee”. These pronominal adverbs are formed from the deictic pronouns: “this (in the region of the 1 person)”, “this/that (in the region of the 2 person)” and “that (far from the communicants)”. Identical systems are in other Dagestanian languages, for example, in Lak: “this”, “that close to the addressee”,“that, far”; in Dargin: “this”,“that close to the addressee”, “that, far”; in Lezgin: “this (in the region of the 1 person)”, “this/that (in the region of the 2 person)” and “that (far from the communicants)”and so on. This deictic system characterizes localization of the object or situation at the equal horizontal level. Both participants of the speech act are equally important: the speaker and the addressee that is it has two deictic centers.

Many Dagestanian languages have such a deictic system which characterizes localization or orientation of the object relative to the vertical landmark. There is one deictic center here – a speaker (the 1 person).

Similar five-member deictic system is in most Dagestanian languages: three-member horizontal and two-member vertical. In Lak and Dargin languages the deictic systems are not only semantically close but materially common. The degree of remoteness on the horizontal line the following deictic pronouns show: Lak.: “this”, “that close to the addressee”,“that, far”; Darg. “this”,“that, close to the addressee”, “that, far”; the degree of remoteness on the vertical line: Lak.: “that, higher”, “this, at the equal level”, “that, lower”; Darg.: “that, higher”, “this, at the same level”, “that, lower”. Markers by the degree of remoteness in Lak and Dargin deictic pronouns coincide, but in Lak they are in preposition (in Dargin – in postposition (). In the structure of Lak and Dargin pronouns the semantics of space localization is expressed by consonants.

In Avar-Andin languages the deictic words also show materialistic commonness. Opposing to Dargin and Lak languages, space localization is differentiated by vowels. The clearest morphologic structure in the demonstrative pronouns of the Avar language: is a demonstrative element (firstly it expressed the presence of the object within the vision of the speaker), vowels express localization in the horizontal space (“near” – “further” – “the furthest”). Auslat consonant in the structure of the deictic pronouns is a variable class feature of the third grammar class (Mallaeva, 2012).

Space orientation suggests at least two points – a reference point, by which a person orients, and a periphery point, towards which this orientation is done. So, the frame of reference is formed where a person, as a central point, determines own position. Karatin language has the greatest number of deictic pronouns among the Dagestanian languages – 11 units: (within the region of a speaker),(in the region of the addressee), g’ugub, g’udub (further from the communicants on the vertical axis). Different position near the speech act participants is transferred by the correlation of the vowel elements of the root morpheme: -- is a region of the speaker; -- is the region of the addressee. Different vertical localization is transferred by the consonants correlation: – the same level, – higher, – lower than the speech participants. In the Karatin language both speech participants are equal, they make two deictic centers.


Difference in space verbalization in languages is conditioned by the peculiarities of the grammar and peculiarity of space perception by different peoples. Grammar peculiarities influence least of all the lexical space structuring, expressed by semantically related words, belonging to different parts of speech which are classified in the language as ‘deictic words’. The number of deictic words in languages differs from two (Indo-European languages) till eleven (Dagestanian languages). In Dagestanian languages deictic words differentiate the localization of the object relative to the deictic center higher and lower the vertical close, far, not very far horizontally. All deictic words in the Dagestanian languages originate from the demonstrative (deictic) pronouns. Even in related Dagestanian languages the number of the deictic pronouns differs from three to eleven, that proves idioethnospecific character of space perception, conditioned by the cultural traditions and Oekumene peculiarities.


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Mallaeva, Z. M., Khalidova, R. S., Kadachieva, K. M., Gasanova, U. U., & Kuraeva, M. N. (2021). Structuring The Space In The Languages Of Different Cultures And Traditions. 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 - ISCKMC 2020, vol 107. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 1034-1039). European Publisher.