Comparative Study Of Kalmyk, Russian And German Animalistic Proverbial Texts


The paper is devoted to the proverbial embodiment analysis of the representations of the carriers of three linguistic cultures about wild animals. The issue of basic animalisms with pronounced national and cultural specificity (bear, wolf, fox, hare, etc.), in which linguocultural potential is still insufficiently studied, is considered on the example of key animalistic markers of Kalmyk, Russian and German zoological proverbs (ZP). A comparative analysis outcome of the semantics of a number of basic zoonominations (chon / Der Wolf / ‘wolf', etc.), recorded in the phraseological system of three languages, is presented. The research novelty is determined by the fact that the names of wild animals in the stated aspect on the material of three indicated linguistic cultures have not been systematically studied. The relevance of the research is due to the need to create a Kalmyk-Russian-German dictionary of zoolexics. Considering the fact, we have singled out for ZP description in the indicated languages. Lexical zoonominations were the object of comprehension. Comparative methods of proverbial objectification of wild animals’ images in various linguistic cultures allowed identifying their universal and idioethnic characteristics. ZP in the languages ​​under consideration reveal both similarities and differences, respectively, three groups of ZP are distinguished. The conclusion about the phraseological image symbolism of a particular wild animal is made, namely, what associations it evokes, and, consequently, what qualities of a person are most valued in the analyzed linguistic cultures, as well as actions and deeds that are evaluated negatively or positively.

Keywords: German, Kalmyk zooparemiology, linguocultural image, Russian animalisms, wild animals, worldview


Zoological nomenclature has a long history. Wild animals are clearly distinguished in the ethnozoological classification (Alves & Souto, 2015). The interrelation of language and culture is most clearly manifested in zooparemiology (Colson, 2008). The undertaken comparative description of crucial zoolexemes is aimed, primarily, at revealing the world perception peculiarities of diverse ethnic groups.

Problem Statement

We will make an effort to reveal the linguocultural potential of basic zoolexemes in proverbial text formation. The main task is to trace how the image of the same wild animal is represented in the linguistic worldview (LWV).

Research Questions

Zoo proverbs in various linguistic cultures can either coincide (in whole or in part), or diverge (Rooth, 1968; Tova, 2008). The paremiological specifics identification of the Kalmyk animalistic LWV fragment is of great interest in comparison with the similar segment of the Russian and German LWV.

How did this or that wild animal get into ZFE? Researchers offer a three-factor anthropozoomorphic model of a person's relationship with an animal: firstly, it is a feeling of gratitude or sympathy for an animal, secondly, a feeling of spiritual or mystical connection with it, and, finally, a sense of identification with a particular species (Roberts et al., 2015).

Zoolexeme is the core component of zoomorphic phraseological units. In the current research, a polysemantic word with the original meaning ‘name of an animal’ has the common name (synonyms are faunism, animalism). Terms such as (a direct designation of a wild animal) and (a metaphorical designation of a person) are applied to nominate individual lexico-semantic variants (LSV).

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the paper is to identify the linguocultural specificity of languages’ zoonominations of diverse structures, which will allow answering the question of what qualities of wild animals are reflected in the proverbial fund.

Research Methods

The research methods are observation method, descriptive with elements of comparative analysis, and semantic interpretation method.


Collections of proverbs, lexicographic publications, and folklore records of past centuries, testifying to the rich written tradition of the Kalmyks, served as main sources for the research (Omakaeva, 2010). A number of studies are devoted to the images of wild animals on the material of individual languages, including Kalmyk, German and Russian(Bicher, 2015; Bovaeva et al., 2021; Dybo & Nikulenko, 2019; Omakaeva et al., 2019; Omakaeva et al., 2020; Rakusan, 2003; Schnoor, 2007; Shchukina, 2017; Tretyakova, 2014; Yusupova, 2012; Yusupova & Kuzmina, 2017).

Hare's image (tuula/Hase)

A hare is considered a symbol of cowardice by both Kalmyks and Russians: (A coward hare has 3 rookeries); (show rabbit’s heart). Russians use such expressions

It is well known that if you take on several cases at once, you will not achieve anything, there will be no result: Kalm. (Chasing two hares – leaving with nothing). Rus:

Kalmyk ZP, using the example of a hare and a calf, say that one should not dream of an unrealizable: ‘wait for the hare to grow horns and the calf to grow fangs’. In the Russian expression with the same semantics, only the image of calves is involved:

The Kalmyk example (each hare jumps in its way) confirms the well-known fact that everyone sees the world in own way: many people, many opinions. In Russian, another animalistic image is used to express the following idea:

We have revealed a number of Kalmyk “hare” expressions: “experimental hare” (rus. “experimental rabbit”), “to see a hare with horns” (to be very surprised).

The hare is primarily a symbol of experience for the Germans. It is interesting that a wolf appears in Russian examples, and a hare in German ones: the Germans speak of an experienced worker, a master of his craft, as of an old hare (). Rus.. Knowing how to get down to business means ‘knowing how a hare runs’:or. Watching things go means ‘watching the hare runs’:. Rus.. The idea of what turn the case will take is encoded by the expression ‘remember where the hare lies’:.

The German image of a hare is associated with purity of thoughts. When it smells fishy, they say:(Not to be a clean hare / it's not about the cleanliness of the hare). When difficulties arise, the Germans say:(there is a hare in the pepper!).

Therefore, in modern German, examples with primarily emphasize the experience and skills of an adult hare. The reference to an inexperienced little child, the expression (young hare) is used: still a child, Rus. yellowmouth chick.

It is interesting to note that Russians compare work with a wolf, while Germans compare it with a hare or a bear:(Work is not a hare: it won’t jump into the forest). (Work is not a bear, it won't run into the forest). Rus.. The hare runs fast, and another German proverb is based on this, in addition to the above mentioned:(Being big means nothing, otherwise the cow would be able to catch up with the hare). In Russian ZP, a quick hare is opposed to a cunning fox:In German expressions with this zoolexeme, not only the semes “experience” and “quickness” are noted, but also cowardice:(true coward).

Some German proverbs do not have equivalents in Russian: (A hare jumps over the nobility). (My name is hare, I don’t know anything). Rus..

The analysis of “hare” ZP allowed revealing the perception specificity of the animal by speakers of three languages. An equivalent feature of a hare, relevant for speakers of all three languages, is the speed of its run.

Wolf’s image (chon / Wolf)

The wolf's image is associated with activity and energetic performance, the rejection of a passive lifestyle. The worst thing for a Kalmyk man is to lose his honor, and for a wolf – to lose its prey:(A man who does not reach his goal loses his name; a wolf that misses its prey dies of hunger). Rus.; Germ. (A recumbent wolf rarely gets ham). (A sleeping wolf did not catch a single sheep). (A sheep does not run into a sleeping wolf's mouth).

Three linguistic cultures explicate the image of the eternally hungry wolf well: Germ. (hungry as wolf); (A wolf can get fed too); Rus. A wolf roams, looking for bread.

The wolf's image is applied in all three linguistic cultures to objectify a whole “bunch” of negatively perceived qualities (duplicity, hypocrisy, greed, deceit, and betrayal): Kalm.‘wolf in sheep's clothing'; Germ.. A wolf can't be trusted: Germ. (A wolf dies in its skin); Rus. No matter how you feed the wolf, he looks into the forest.

A wolf is an insidious predator, so one needs to be careful: Kalm. (Look outside – a toy, look inside – a wolf); Rus..

Its habits, animal essence are ineradicable: Kalm.(A wolf won’t stop eating meat); Germ.(Although the wolf sheds, it remains the same). Rus.

The wolf is a real danger. The Kalmyk expression reminds this‘freed from the wolf’s mouth, fall into the mouth of a tiger’ (having got rid of one danger, face even more). Rus.

The German expression is reminiscent of a failed attempt to fix something that led to the worst (get better like a young wolf): deteriorate, get worse. Rus. from a bag and into a matting to be corrected;(hold the wolf by the ears): about what can neither be canceled nor brought to an end. You cannot trust a significant task to someone who is not suitable at all for its implementation: Germ. (A lamb won’t come from a wolf); (make a wolf as a shepherd). Rus.

A wolf can become a scapegoat in Russian examples:

Wolves don't touch their own: Kalm. Чон үүрт өлзәтә (A wolf is happy in the lair); Germ. Ein Wolf kennt den anderen Wohl (A wolf knows another wolf). Rus. A wolf won't eat a wolf. A wolf is not poisoned by a wolf. A wolf will not crush the wolf's tail.

The influence of a wolf on others is negative, because a bad example is contagious: Germ. (They learn to howl from wolves and owls). Rus.According to the Russian and German ZP we must howl if we find ourselves among wolves. The well-known American paremiologist Wolfgang Mieder published one of his paremiological collections under the title “Howl Like a Wolf: Animal Proverbs” (Mieder, 1993).

Thus, the wolf's image is quite contradictory: on the one hand, it is a symbol of experience (old wolf, sea wolf), on the other hand, the wolf is aggressive, rude, ruthless, and hypocritical. American folklorist Donald Ward writes about the ambivalence of the wolf’s image (Ward, 1987).

Fox’s image (arat / der Fuchs)

A fox’s image among Kalmyks is associated primarily with a cunning person: Kalm. (If your friend is like a fox, always keep the trap ready). The Kalmyks say: (Sly as a fox, agile as a squirrel). A fox really knows how to cover its tracks: ‘a fox hopes for its trace, a drunkard for his friend’s.’ But the cunning of the fox is not absolute, the man is even more cunning: (The fox is cunning, and the man is even more cunning).

A wise person cannot be fooled just like that, he will always be able to comprehend where is the lie and where is the truth, where is good and where is evil. The image of an old fox is used to express this idea in German and Russian ZP:

Germ. (Old foxes have difficulty walking into the trap); (An old fox is hard to catch);

Rus. An old fox digs with its stigma, and covers the trail with its tail.

German ZP (You can’t lure an old fox into a trap a second time) has a Russian equivalent:Even an old woman makes a blunder: Rus.

A fox can be stupid too: Germ. (That fox is silly/poor who knows one hole). Nevertheless, intelligence, like cunning, is a crucial characteristic of this animal in all three linguistic cultures.


In the studied material, ZP with negative assessment turned out to be higher than with positive assessment. Motives of zoomorphic comparisons in the matched languages are most often diverse, although there is also a similarity of individual zooimages. Such signs as gluttony and duplicity are a universal characteristic of the wolf's image in the Kalmyk, Russian and German languages. The feature is updated in ZP by contrasting with a sheep/lamb.

The paremiological activity of zoolexemes reflects the significance of this or that animal for the ethnos. Quantitative analysis of ZP core components has revealed that various animals are represented differently. We demonstrate the names frequency of wild animals () on the example of German and Kalmyk ZP: der Hase (35), туула (7); der Affe (36); der Fuchs (65), arat (3); der Wolf (38); chon (4); die Löwe (19); арслң (4); der Elefant (4); der Bär (53), ayu (2).

The absolute leader is a fox in German, then there is a bear, a wolf, a monkey with a hare, and a lion closes the top six. The hare is the leader among the Kalmyks, the wolf and the lion share the second place, the fox closes the top three. The zoolexemes (over 100 ZP) and (over 40 ZP) are most often found in Russian ZP. The dominance of images of a wolf, a fox, a bear, a hare in all three linguistic cultures is due to the fact that hunting and fishing were the most essential means of human life support in antiquity, and the main source of its existence and survival in the environment.


The study was carried out with the support of a 2022 intra-university grant from the Kalmyk State University named after B.B. Gorodovikov.


  • Alves, R. R. N., & Souto, W. M. S. (2015). Ethnozoology: A Brief Introduction. Ethnobiology and Conservaton, 4(1), 1–13. DOI:

  • Bicher, O. (2015). Images of wild animals in Russian phraseology (against the background of Turkish language). Proceedings XX International Scientific and Practical Conference Modern Philology: Theory and Practice (pp. 15–22). (Moscow, 26–27 June, 2015). Scientific and Information Publishing Center “Institute for Strategic Studies”.

  • Bovaeva, G. M., Buraeva, T. V., & Dorzhinov, D. B. (2021). Images of wild animals in German animalistic phraseological units. Materials of the XXX All-Russian Scientific and Practical Conference Scientific and educational discussions: fundamental and applied research. In 2 parts (pp. 400–403). (Rostov-on-Don, April 14, 2021). Southern University (IMBL); LLC “VVM Publishing House”.

  • Colson, J.-P. (2008). Cross-linguistic phraseological studies: An overview. Phraseology. In: An interdisciplinary perspective. Eds. By S. Granger and F. Meunier (pp. 191–206). John Benjamins.

  • Dybo, A. V., & Nikulenko, E. V. (2019). Zoomorphic metaphor “bear” in Russian, English and languages of South Siberia. Language and culture, 45, 78–95.

  • Mieder, W. (1993). Howl like a Wolf: Animal Proverbs. Shelburne. The New England Press.

  • Omakaeva, E. U. (2010). Written tradition. Journal Kalmyks. Ser. “Narodas and Cultures”, 382–387. Science,

  • Omakaeva, E. U. (2019). Zoomorphic Code of Culture in Reflexion of Kalmyk and Mongolian Proverbs. The European Proceedings of Social & Behavioural Sciences Epsbs. Vol. lXXVI. Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism (SCTCMG) (pp. 2529–2535).

  • Omakaeva, E. U., Sanzhieva, D. K., & Karueva, V. V. (2020). Zoolexeme ayu/baavgay/baabgay “bear” in the Mongolian hunting lexicon: based on the texts of fairy tales and non-fairy tale prose. Culture and civilization, 10(5A), 339–345.

  • Rakusan, J. (2003). Wild Beasts of Phraseological Lexicons. Slavonic and Germanic Similes Reinardus. Yearbook of the International Reynard Society, 16, 165–182.

  • Roberts, S. E., Plante, C. N., Gerbasi, K. C., & Reysen, S. (2015). The anthrozoomorphic identity: Furry fandom members’ connections to nonhuman animals. Anthrozoös, 28(4), 533–548. DOI:

  • Rooth, A. B. (1968). Domestic Animals and Wild Animals as Symbols and Referents in Proverbs. Proverbium, 11, 286–288.

  • Schnoor, F. (2007). Octopuses, Foxes and Hares: Animals in Early Modern Latin and German Proverbs. In: Early Modern Zoology: The Construction of Animals in Science, Literature and the Visual Arts, in 2 volumes (pp. 537–553). Brill Publishers.

  • Shchukina, G. O. (2017). Figurative meanings of lexemes wolf, wolf English, wolf German, loup as part of phraseological units. Philological Sciences. Questions of theory and practice, 8-2(74).

  • Tova, L. F. (2008). Animal Imagery in the Book of Proverbs (Vetus Testamentum Supplements, 118). Brill Publishers.

  • Tretyakova, I. Yu. (2014). Cultural meanings of phraseological components-zoomorphisms bear and wolf (on the issue of national and cultural features of Russian phraseological units). Bulletin of KSU named after N.A. Nekrasov, 6, 192–194.

  • Ward, D. (1987). The wolf: proverbial ambivalence. Proverbium, 4, 211–224.

  • Yusupova, L. G. (2012). Proverbs and sayings with designations of wild animals in Russian, German and Tatar languages. In: Russian German studies: Yearbook of the Russian Union of Germanists. Special iss. (pp. 113–117). Kab.-Balk. University.

  • Yusupova, L. G., & Kuzmina, O. D. (2017). Animal paremiological units with designations of wild animals in Russian and German. Philological Sciences. Questions of theory and practice, 3-3(69), 193–196.

Copyright information

About this article

Publication Date

23 December 2022

eBook ISBN



European Publisher



Print ISBN (optional)


Edition Number

1st Edition




Cite this article as:

Omakaeva, E. U., Buraeva, T. V., Bovaeva, G. M., Ochirova, V. S., Boktaeva, V. L., & Salynova, O. V. (2022). Comparative Study Of Kalmyk, Russian And German Animalistic Proverbial Texts. 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 2022, vol 129. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 817-823). European Publisher.