Ethnicity-Specific Features Of The Concept Of Loneliness In Psycho-Linguistic Research

Abstract

The paper considers language representation peculiarities of the concept of loneliness in the linguistic consciousness of Latin Americans from the standpoint of cognitive and conceptual approaches. Special emphasis is put on the examination of the image basis in the semantic structure of the given concept. In the process of reconstructing of the concept the author established its ethnocultural specificity and associative layer of the analyzed concept of the Latin Americans speakers through a free associative experiment, which allowed determining the “associative profile” of images of consciousness that are specific to the Latin American culture and Spanish language. While studying the concept of loneliness the authors performed an experiment on the subjective definition which allowed not only revealing the psychological meaning of the word loneliness, but also determining the value component of the concept by analyzing the native speakers’ subjective definitions. The obtained results led to the conclusion that the concept of loneliness is considered to be one of the social cultural phenomena involving the moral and philosophical sphere of life of the Latin American community, the conceptual field of the analyzed concept has been formed due to Latin American history and traditions, and the social significance of the concept is still potential in the linguistic consciousness of modern Latin Americans speakers.

Keywords: Concept, loneliness, psycholinguistic experiment, ethnocultural specificity

Introduction

This article is devoted to the study of the linguocultural specifics of the concept of loneliness so that the data obtained as a result of the research can be used to develop basic approaches to the formation and development of multicultural interaction of multilingual partners, which cannot be ignored in the process of interaction and internationalization of cultures.

Within the framework of the modern anthropocentric paradigm, there is a tendency to reflect in the language such culturally significant elements as ideology, values, beliefs, norms of behavior inherent in a particular linguocultural community. The key concept in this process is the linguocultural concept, and its study makes it possible to reflect the cultural features of the worldview of a particular linguocultural community.

The theoretical and methodological basis of this study was formed by the provisions and principles put forward in the works of famous foreign philosophers Rousseau (2004), Nietzsche (1999), Ortega y Gasset (2003), Fromm-Reichman (1986), as well as the works of Weisgerber (2004), dedicated to the continuous development of language and its anthropological character. The philosophical outlines of the phenomenon of loneliness in Russian philosophical thought are presented in the works of Chaadaev (1991), Herzen (1979), Berdyaev (1994), etc.

Despite the fact that the Western scientific community has been closely studying the phenomenon of loneliness in its various aspects for at least a century, as well as outstanding thinkers, writers and poets of different eras and peoples tried to find the origins of this phenomenon and comprehend it in their works, this painful social phenomenon requires comprehensive understanding from the standpoint of historical, philosophical, social, cultural, conceptual approaches.

In the European reading of the 19th – early 20th centuries, the phenomenon of loneliness mainly acted as a connecting semantic link in the formation of the category of individualism in its close relationship with other existential problems of humanity, such as good and evil, freedom, love, the meaning of life, etc.

American philosophers actualized the constructive and destructive features of loneliness (solitude vs. isolation), and the philosophy of the XIX–early XX century included it in the category of “alienation” and in the opposition “individual – collective”.

At present, according to various scientific studies, loneliness is becoming a truly global, universal human problem, affecting a wide variety of segments of the population in both developed and developing countries. In this regard, the author's vision of this phenomenon by the greatest Colombian writer Márquez (1974), who viewed loneliness as a denial of solidarity, raising the question of the relationship between the “I” and the “Other” and the reasons for the separation from the “Others” in the dichotomous relationship “loneliness–solidarity,” transferring the problem into the spiritual and moral sphere and giving it a political meaning.

Thus, the study of the concept of loneliness is due to the fact that it has a multifaceted, multidimensional and contradictory nature and leaves a wide field for linguistic analysis. The ethnospecific level of representation of the concept remains insufficiently studied and, in this regard, is of undoubted research interest. The authors made an attempt to combine the data of historical and philosophical analysis and modern trends in the study of loneliness from the point of view of cultural linguistics and linguistic conceptology.

Problem Statement

The problem of studying the subjective meaning of the word, which determines the individual vision of the human world, is in the focus of attention of many modern researchers, this interest is due to the desire to penetrate into the "image of the world" of an individual and highlight the specifics of his linguistic consciousness. The scientific novelty of the work consists in a comprehensive study of the concept of loneliness, marked by ethnocultural specifics, the establishment of its constituent elements in the conceptual and linguistic plans, the influence of factors of a subjective and objective order on the formation of a picture of the world by a certain ethnocultural community.

Research Questions

The subject of the research is loneliness as a linguocultural category, which has different meanings in different languages and is marked by ethnocultural specificity, depending on the mentality of a particular linguocultural community.

Revealing the peculiarities and ethnocultural specificity of the concept of loneliness presupposes its definition and the establishment of its constituent elements in the conceptual and linguistic plans, determining the influence of factors of a subjective and objective order on the formation of a picture of the world by the Latin American linguocultural community.

When identifying the internal content of the concept of loneliness, its internal composition in the linguistic consciousness of modern representatives of the Latin American linguistic culture, special attention is paid to the expressive means of the language and the evaluative characteristics of the respondents.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the research is theoretical comprehension, comprehensive analysis of the concept of loneliness in Spanish from the standpoint of cultural linguistics and conceptology. Particular attention is paid to identifying the essential features and the figurative component of the concept of loneliness through the analysis of the results of a psycholinguistic experiment on the "subjective definition" of the analyzed concept, taking into account the psychophysiological and social status of respondents – representatives of the Latin American linguistic culture. Special attention is paid to the study of human perception and conceptualization of reality, the influence of factors of an objective and subjective order on the formation of the national picture of the world by representatives of the Latin American ethnocultural community, which is confirmed by the results of the study.

Research Methods

The study used a comprehensive analysis using the methods of linguo-conceptology and cultural linguistics (Apanasyuk et al., 2019; Babushkin, 1996; Vezhbitskaya, 1999; Vorkachev, 2001), socio- and psycholinguistics, cultural studies and other sciences (Kuznetsov, 2008; Zagefka, 2008).

In order to clarify the results of the study and find out how the concept of loneliness is defined in the minds of "naive" modern representatives of the Latin American linguistic community from the point of view of its ethnocultural specificity, a free associative experiment was conducted. One of the main goals of our experiment was to identify associations (both positive and negative) associated with loneliness in representatives of the Latin American linguistic culture.

The experiment involved 166 Spanish-speaking respondents, representatives of Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Mexico. Social status of the subjects: foreign students at Moscow universities, as well as working foreign citizens – representatives of the intelligentsia. The age of the subjects was from 19 to 35 years old. They were conventionally divided into 2 groups: students (126 people) and workers (40 people). The association experiment was conducted in writing. We have compiled a questionnaire that reveals the value attitudes of Latin American societies in relation to the phenomenon of loneliness. The purpose of the survey was to identify the possible ethnocultural specificity of value orientations in the understanding of loneliness by representatives of the Latin American linguocultural community. As part of the survey, respondents were asked to answer the following questions: “?”; “?”; "?".

Findings

The results of the psycholinguistic experiment confirmed the data obtained in the course of the definitional analysis that loneliness, being an important socio-cultural phenomenon, is actively embodied in human communication and the semantics of language. For speakers of the Latin American linguistic culture, the concept of loneliness is of great importance, as evidenced by the many ways of verbalizing it with units of different linguistic levels.

The lexicographic meanings of the key lexeme are based on the image of a lonely person experiencing deep inner experiences and being in a state of isolation from society, as a result of which a feeling of rejection, invalidity, uselessness, etc. appears.

In the content of the concept of loneliness, the following cognitive signs are highlighted: 1) the emotional state of a person (sadness; sadness; melancholy; depression); 2) lack of communication; 3) loss (death; loss of a loved one; loss of anything); 4) spatial perception (deserted place; uninhabited territory; remote place).

These features made it possible to build an invariant prototype – a minimal content-semantic composition, which is universal for representatives of different linguocultures: loneliness is a state of a lonely person, accompanied by a feeling of intense melancholy, as well as being in this state.

The concept of loneliness has a wide lexicon and an extensive lexical and semantic field. The nuclear nominees for the concept tristeza, melancolía, pesar, ausencia, desierto are quite densely nominated by synonymous series, which made it possible to identify cognitive features in its content: isolation, loss, spatial perception, emotional state, human character, cessation of activity, monologue speech and a safe place.

Based on the results of the analysis of lexicographic sources, it can be concluded that loneliness acts mainly as a negative socio-psychological phenomenon, which is confirmed by 75 % of the identified synonyms of the key lexeme of the concept under study; 17 % of similar lexical units indicate its possible neutral character, and only 8 % have a positive connotation.

The ethno-specific level of representation of the concept of loneliness in the minds of modern speakers of Latin American linguistic culture is manifested in the dominance of negative connotations (85 % vs. 15 %), which indicates close moral and ethical norms and cultural stereotypes, associating this state with such concepts as sadness, alienation, helplessness, emptiness, illness and depression. Only a small proportion of respondents (15 %) associate loneliness with calmness, introspection and reasoning. Thus, the localization of the conceptual layer of the concept of loneliness, taking into account individual associations, can be represented on a gradual scale of intensity, divided into 5 segments: the 1st segment includes positive assessments and individual associations (12 %); The 2nd segment contains negative assessments and associations (42 %); the 3rd segment includes neutral assessments and associations (27 %); the 4th one includes semantic definitions with a pronounced expressive negative assessment (15 %); the 5th one is represented by subjective concepts with a pronounced expressive positive connotation (4 %).

In addition, a feature of the respondents' perception of loneliness turned out to be reactions indicating the existence of a connection between the level of loneliness and the climate in which a person lives. Loneliness for the majority of respondents is associated with gray, something dull, symbolizing old age, imprisonment, an abandoned place. The choice of priority subject and evaluative characteristics in the categorization and conceptualization of reality testifies to the nationally specific thinking of representatives of the Latin American linguistic culture.

The identified associative layer of the analyzed concept made it possible to establish a specific for a given culture and a given language "associative profile" of images of consciousness, combining mental and sensory knowledge inherent in speakers of Latin American linguistics. According to the results of the experiment, it was found that the phenomenon of loneliness in the language culture of Latin Americans is associated mainly with negative phenomena, which coincides with the data of the definitional analysis, and also contains specific cognitive components. The experiment on subjective definition made it possible to fix the psychological meaning of the concept of loneliness, as well as to determine the value component of the concept by analyzing the subjective definitions obtained during the experiment.

Conclusion

So, the experiment on subjective definition confirms the ambivalent nature of the concept of loneliness in the minds of modern representatives of Latin American culture. The verbal description of the concept of loneliness among Latin American respondents is characterized by diversity: the actualization of the values of a high degree of the trait with negative and positive connotations was noted. The analysis of the data obtained indicates the connection between the metaphorical representation of the concept of loneliness and the practical experience and encyclopedic knowledge of representatives of the Latin American linguistic culture.

The figurative component of the concept of loneliness includes: feelings and emotions of a person; the sign of a "living person"; characterization of the qualities of a person's character; human life and activity; man's attitude to the Other; color spectrum. These segments, with the exception of the last one, correspond to cognitive features in the content of the concept and are distinguished by the associative field of representatives of the Latin American linguistic culture.

The most active parcellas in the associative field of Spanish speakers are: “a person's attitude to the Other” (22 %), “human property/quality” (18), “human life and activity” (16 %), which confirms the active nature of the analyzed concept for representatives Spanish linguoculture and testifies, in our opinion, to the personification, humanization of the abstract essence. These features, we believe, are a manifestation of the national and cultural specifics of the analyzed concept.

It was also recorded that loneliness can be both voluntary and forced. The idea that a person can be surrounded by people, but at the same time feel lonely (puedes estar en no compañía y sentirte solo o puedes estar en una isla desierta y no sentir la soledad) is quite interesting. It was found that the figurative characteristic of loneliness is represented predominantly by negative assessments with the active use of metaphors: a zoomorphic metaphor: más soló qué una rata – to be lonely like a rat; vivir uno como un perro – to live like a dog; morir como un marrano – to die like a pig), such a comparison with objects of nature helps to reveal the figurative component of the concept under study. In addition, phytomorphic responses are presented: como un hongo – to be lonely like a mushroom; quedarse como el olote desgranado – to remain like an ear of corn without grains, and anthropomorphic metaphors: no tener a dónde volver la cabeza – nowhere to lay your head. An original metaphorical comparison of loneliness with a heavenly body: 1) estar en un planeta; 2) the opposition of the two components un planeta lleno de gente (a planet inhabited by people) – sin poder hablar con nadie (not being able to talk to anyone). Which once again confirms the idea that a person can feel lonely even when surrounded by people.

An unexpected metaphor is the comparison of loneliness with the "enemy of the soul" – enemigo del alma. In this case, the destructive nature of such an emotional state, which leads to mental and physical suffering, is emphasized – enfermando el cuerpo y el alma.

Thus, the results of the study open up new perspectives for studying the structure of concepts from the standpoint of their social significance and national-ethnic specifics, contribute to a deeper comprehensive penetration into the conceptual and axiological linguistic picture of the world of representatives of different linguocultural communities.

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17 May 2021

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Cite this article as:

Bogatyreva, S. N. (2021). Ethnicity-Specific Features Of The Concept Of Loneliness In Psycho-Linguistic Research. 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. 200-206). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2021.05.27