Kalmyk, English And German Proverbial Text In Family Discourse: Male Nominations


The key role of family and marriage as primary social institutions could not fail to find its reflection in proverbs. An analysis of its individual subsystems should precede a complete study of the entire proverbial system. The gender factor is one of the most important parameters of the individual and society as a whole. The reflection of the gender parameter in the language is observed at different levels. Proverbs provide rich material for gender analysis. Of particular interest are gender-labelled lexemes in paremiological discourse in typological coverage. For this study, a comparative analysis of masculine vocabulary was selected using the example of Kalmyk, English and German proverbial texts. Proverbial texts provide excellent opportunities for the study of gender, allowing one to see other, previously unexplored aspects in the study of the paremiological fund of the languages ​​under consideration. One of the essential aspects is to analyze the nominations of a man by marital status in the paremiological picture of the world using the example of Kalmyk, English and German proverbs. Considering this fact, we have selected masculine proverbs in these languages ​​to describe. Comparison of the methods of proverbial objectification of muscular vocabulary in different linguistic cultures will reveal their universal and idio-ethnic characteristics. The object of reflection was a variety of aspects of marriage and family life for a man. The article is devoted to the analysis of the proverbial embodiment of a men image in the hypostasis of a father and a husband.

Keywords: Proverbial text, discourse, gender, masculine vocabulary, husband, father


The choice of masculine proverbs as an object of study is not accidental. It is due to the promise of studying the very phenomenon of gender, the importance of popular ideas about masculinity in universal terms (Gilmore, 2005). In this regard, it is necessary to find out precisely what stereotypes about men exist in the proverbs of different peoples and then compare them. This search determines the qualities that native speakers of men endow.

The relevance of the topic stated in the title of the work is due to the need for an in-depth comparative linguistic study of masculine proverbs of different structural languages and the poor development of both the corresponding historiography in Russian literature and many complex semantic problems related to gender nomination. Despite the available research on the study of the gender vocabulary of different thematic groups based on proverbs, the problems in this area have not yet been exhausted. This circumstance actualizes the comparative description of the vocabulary of proverbial texts through the prism of gender. Comparison of masculine vocabulary will allow an adequate understanding of the meaning and linguocultural features of proverbial texts. It should be noted that this issue, for all its relevance, has not received proper development at the moment. Gender is still insufficiently studied in the linguistic and linguocultural aspects (Kirilina, 1998, 1999, 2000; Weatherall, 2002). There are very few systemic comparative studies of the implementation of the gender mechanism in languages of different structures based on the material of paremiology.

Meanwhile, the demand for a comparative study of proverbial texts is due to the processes of intercultural and interlanguage communication. In content, proverbial texts usually emphasize two components: actual meaning and imagery (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, 1994; Mieder & Dundes, 1994). We are interested in the latter.

A wide range of published and unpublished archival sources was used for resolving the set tasks. Field recordings were also involved.

The factual material of the study was about 500 English, German and Kalmyk proverbial texts with masculine vocabulary, selected from paremiological collections and lexicographic sources of various types: dictionaries and other sources.

Among the most important works of the last two decades in the field of Kalmyk (Oirat) paremiology, let us point out such collections as "Proverbs, sayings and riddles of the Kalmyks of Russia and the Oirats of China" (Todaeva, 2007) and "Хальмг үлгүрмүдин болн товчта үгмүдин тәәлвртә толь" ‘Explanatory dictionary of Kalmyk proverbs and sayings’ (Ochirov & Sangaev, 2011). For analyzing the functioning of the gender vocabulary in proverbial contexts, literary texts and electronic resources were also involved. When selecting the material, the lexical and thematic affiliation (the presence of masculine vocabulary) and the linguocultural value of proverbial texts were taken into account.

Problem Statement

The stated issue marks one of the most promising areas of linguistic research in the field of gender. The most essential culturally significant fragment of the paremiological picture of the world is the image of a person with an inherent gender characteristic (gender). As can be seen from the formulation of the problem, the stated topic is one of the most pressing problems of linguistics. The researchers focus on the problems of the verbal (lexical) embodiment of gender as a sociocultural construct. An attempt at the functional-parametric comparison of the masculine vocabulary of proverbial texts of different-structured languages, such as Kalmyk, English and German, is being undertaken for the first time.

Research Questions

As an object of research, we consider a proverbial text with masculine vocabulary in three differently structured languages. The subject of study is the peculiarities of the proverbial realization of the image of a man as a father and a husband using the appropriate vocabulary – specific nouns (names of males). Unlike many other languages, for example, Russian and German, Kalmyk has no category of grammatical gender, like other Mongolian languages, as well as English.

Purpose of the Study

The work aims to identify the linguocultural specificity of the masculine vocabulary of multi-structural languages, which will answer the question of what qualities of a man as a father and a husband are reflected in the general fund. In order to identify the national and cultural specifics of the studied fragment of the world paremiological picture, the masculine model of man is analyzed in work. For this goal, the following tasks were set in the work: 

  • description of the theoretical basis of the study based on the analysis of scientific literature on the stated topic; 
  • analysis of the historiography of the issue; 
  • identification of the national and cultural gender specificity of the image of a man based on the analysis of the vocabulary of family and marriage relations; 
  • determination of the place and role of the gender lexicon in the lexical system of the language; 
  • characteristics of terms and concepts used in work.

Research Methods

Three main methods represent the research methodology: descriptive (observation, generalization, interpretation and classification), comparative and systemic (cluster). Besides, in the course of this study, methods such as analysis of dictionary definitions and statistical processing of the material were applied. We used such techniques as analysis, synthesis, generalization, comparison.


The issues of text formation in Kalmyk folklore discourse were previously considered using the example of a song text (Omakaeva, 2012). The proverbial text has not yet been analyzed from the indicated angle.

In the linguistic literature, there are many works devoted to the study of proverbs, which reflect the role and position of men in the family based on the masculine vocabulary of various languages ​​(Boztash, 2012).

Both in domestic and foreign linguistics, there is no unambiguous approach to the definition of proverbial texts, and there is no clear indication of the boundaries of paremiology. Despite numerous studies of proverbial texts, their linguocultural analysis remains incomplete, especially in terms of gender, in particular, masculinity.

The unrelenting interest in the study of the problems of masculine vocabulary is evidenced by studies devoted to various aspects of linguistic labelling of "masculine" using the example of one single language. For example, the German masculine vocabulary has been considered both in a series of articles and in the framework of monographic studies (Fleischer, 1994; Lazareva, 1994).

There are comparatively few comparative studies of the masculine vocabulary of the general fund of different languages. Comparative linguistics has a certain number of works on this topic, carried out on the material of different Western European and Eastern languages.

The masculine vocabulary was analyzed using the material of two or more languages, including Slavic (Russian), Romano-Germanic (English) and Turkic-Mongolian (Kalmyk) (Esenova & Esenova, 2016; Esenova, 2017; Sarangaeva, 2018; Semenova, 2006).

The term "masculinity" ("masculinity") is associated with gender stereotypes, ideas about the distinctive features and characteristics of men. Gender relations are consolidated in the language in the form of stereotypes of "masculinity" and "femininity" that are included in the background knowledge fund. For all the universality of these stereotypes, they have a particular national and cultural specificity.

Finding this specificity is one of the urgent tasks of gender linguistics. Every nation has its ideas about "masculine", its understanding of "masculinity". Each culture forms its ideal image of a man.

A review of the literature on gender issues based on the languages ​​we compared showed that there are scientific articles on gender and collections of proverbs that allow identifying and analyzing the attitude of Western (English-speaking British and German) and Eastern (Kalmyk) linguistic cultures towards men. At the same time, given the profound influence of gender on how a person perceives and interacts with the world around him, we must ask why the very concept of gender and its reflection in proverbs does not attract much attention.

The main gender parameters that determine the general characterological traits of a person are gender, age, and degree of kinship, marital status, personal qualities and other qualities.

Sex, determined by the complex of reproductive properties of an organism, is a phenomenon of the natural order. However, in society, other functions of the human body (nutrition, expression of emotions, and other functions) are regulated by culture.

Sex, as a biological characteristic, cannot explain the difference in social roles and attitudes that exist in a particular society. Therefore, we will consider such a gender marker as marital status, using the example of the proverbial vocabulary of different languages.

An essential role among the means of lexical marking of gender semantics is given to family and marriage terms. By the latter, we mean a group of words, which is united by an ordinary family and marriage.

In the description of masculine vocabulary, the idea of ​​cluster analysis is used, which for the first time in Mongolian studies was applied to a proverbial text. Previously, the cluster description of the lexicon was carried out based on the Kalmyk songtext (Omakaeva & Borlykova, 2013).

We regard the cluster as a system of interconnected subclusters that represent a particular fragment of the gender linguistic picture of the world. Marital relationship nominations are included in the cluster of socio-facts.

An essential place in the gender fragment of the paremiological picture of the world is occupied by the concept of family and marriage (marriage and marriage). In a person's life scenario, successive stages are distinguished: finding a partner, getting married, starting a family, family life (relations of spouses in the family), giving birth and raising a child (children).

The general picture of marriage in three linguistic cultures is presented in proverbs as the need for marriage and gaining minimal protection.

In English linguistic culture, such a pragmatist represents the image of a man in the premarital period: Marriage is a stonewall 'Marriage is a stone wall'. Marriage is a quick solution to many problems'.

On the other hand, proverbs demonstrate the exact opposite, sharply negative perception of marriage:. 'Marriage is a shackle'. Marriage is a lottery.

Hence the advice: Advice nоne to marry оr gо to war. Also, proverbs warn men against hasty marriage.

Despite the clear leadership of a man in the family, the role of a woman should not be underestimated either: Man is the head of the fаmilу and wоman is the neck that turns the head.

In German proverbs, a man and a woman appear as part of one whole: Ein Mann ohne Frаu ist еin Baum оne Laub und Zweige ‘A man without a woman is a tree without twigs and leaves’. Mann ohne Weib,

Haupt оhnе Leib ‘A man without a wife is a head without a body’.

Some proverbs give a positive assessment of early marriage:

Früh aufstehen und jung gеfrеiеn wird niеmanden gеrеuеn. ‘No one will regret the fact that I got up early and married young. Others warn of the danger of losing their freedom.

You get married once, and you cry for a century (Russian); Hastily married, but for a long flour (Russian).

In all languages, gender proverbs speak of the dominant role of the husband and father in the family, indicating the main functions of the head of the family – the breadwinner and breadwinner:

German Dеr Vаter ernährt еher zеhn Kindеr als zеhn Kindеr den Vаter ‘It is more likely that a father will feed ten children than ten children feed a father’. Vater werden ist nicht schwer, Vater sein dagegen sehr ‘To become a father is not difficult, to be a father is, on the contrary, very difficult’.

The denotation of the concept of a father in the Kalmyk language, words such as аав (aav) and (etsk) were used. Moreover, in the Kalmyk language, they were initially considered as equivalent concepts, over time the first began to be used for refering to representatives of the older generation in the sense of ‘grandfather’. However, in Kalmyk proverbs this lexeme has retained its original meaning: ‘A good son glorifies his father’s name’.

Dignified fatherhood is impossible without personal example. The father of the family is its undisputed head:‘The fur coat has one collar, the house has one owner’.

Husband status is a status acquired through legal marriage.

In the Kalmyk language, the word (zalu) ‘husband’ has two meanings: 1) a man concerning a woman with whom he is officially married; 2) a man. By the way, in the Russian language, the lexeme husband used for having one meaning, denoting the representative of the stronger sex in general and only in the 15-16 centuries. In written monuments, the word man began to occur.

The Kalmyk word (zalu) in its first meaning has a synonym (aval) ‘first and only spouse’.

German couples portray a man “without a wife” as a homeless person and the situation itself as unnatural for a man. The wife is conceptualized through the archetype of the house: Wer kein Weib hat, hat auch kein Haus ‘He who does not have a wife has no home’.

In English, the lexeme husband denotes a husband. Spouse is the equivalent of the Russian word for spouse and is usually used in the official style of speech. In the English word man, the meaning of ‘husband’ can be actualized when the word man is paired with ‘wife’. The key figure in a woman's life is her husband: A woman without a husband, a house without foundation: ‘A woman without a husband is like a house without foundation’.


Analysis of the masculine vocabulary of proverbial texts of the languages ​​under consideration allowed drawing meaningful conclusions:

1. The entire array of analyzed material shows, first of all, a male perspective (androcentric), androcentric connotation, along with gender asymmetry, is traced in all studied linguocultures. A man dominates: the proverbs reflect a predominantly male picture of the world.

2. The image of a man in proverbial texts is presented three-dimensionally, polyparametrically, in many cases, axiologically ambivalent.

3. Proverbial texts value such qualities of a man as courage, firmness of character. The man is assigned the role of family leader and breadwinner. The main occupation of the father is the material support of the family. The “Fatherhood” cluster in all the languages ​​examined is represented by proverbial texts in which there is a gender stereotype that puts sons in a privileged position, which indicates gender asymmetry.

4. In contrast to the English and German, the model of the Kalmyk muscularity does not include such behaviour, as the inconstancy of a man in intimate relations with a woman.

A comparative analysis of proverbial texts with a masculine lexical component made it possible to see the uniqueness of the paremiological picture of the world of the speakers of the languages ​​we are considering, their connection with the history of the people, its traditions, with the national mentality and character.

Our study confirmed that, despite the universality of universal human ideas about a man as a father and a husband, it is necessary to study more deeply various proverbial models of masculinity since ethnocultural and ethno-social factors have a significant impact on their formation.


The study was carried out with the support of a 2020 intra-university grant from the Kalmyk State University named after B. B. Gorodovikov.


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Omakaeva, E. U., Birtalan, A., Bovaeva, G. M., Buraeva, T. V., & Salynova, O. V. (2021). Kalmyk, English And German Proverbial Text In Family Discourse: Male Nominations. 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. 1195-1201). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2021.05.159