Eng Cn Translate this page:
Please select your language to translate the article


You can just close the window to don't translate
Library
Your profile

Back to contents

Litera
Reference:

Binary opposition heaven-earth in Russian and English

Shagbanova Khabiba Sadyrovna

Doctor of Philology

Professor, Department of Philosophy, Foreign Languages and Humanities, Tyumen Institute for Advanced Studies of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia

625049, Russia, Tyumen region, Tyumen, Amurskaya str., 75

khabiba_shagbanova@list.ru
Other publications by this author
 

 

DOI:

10.25136/2409-8698.2023.8.43757

EDN:

UQHJCE

Received:

10-08-2023


Published:

20-08-2023


Abstract: In the article, the author explores the semantic behavior of representatives of such fundamental concepts as "heaven" and "earth" in the Russian and English language spaces. This binary opposition, despite its ancient origin, demonstrates both interaction with relevant concepts and a tendency to nominate phenomena of a universal or particular nature. The pragmatics of each lexeme is determined not only by the realization of connotative potential, but also by the projection of actual meanings on a fragment of the universe. It should be noted the priority of differential characteristics that verbalize the functionally demanded spectrum of the semantic field. Each semantic derivative of the sky lexeme is characterized by a set of implication connections motivated by hypo- and hyperonymy phenomena. In the logical and meaningful space of English linguoculture, the concept of "sky" implements the values of the visible space above the earth and the equivalent-the religious name paradise, which illustrates the unification of each case of the development of the original meaning by a sign of height, location in the supramundane space. The linguosemiotic variation of the concept of "earth" in the English language picture of the world is associated with its functioning in topographic, legal and agricultural discourses. In the conceptual sphere of the Russian language, the mental unit of the sky provides information of a religious, spatial, physical or climatic nature, while the earth nominates phenomena of an astronomical, administrative-territorial, linguistic, ideal nature. This behavior of each of the pairs allows us to talk about nomination processes motivated by understanding the processes and phenomena of the universe through the prism of naive consciousness, as well as the desire of the language to use existing lexical units to express as many meanings as possible through association mechanisms.


Keywords:

comparative historical linguistics, semantic behavior, concept sphere, content, contrastive linguistics, comparison method, typology, linguoculturology, webization of concepts, binary opposition

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

The webalization of the concepts of "heaven" and "earth" in Russian and English is one of the key binary oppositions in typological and comparative-historical linguistics. This ideal formation is one of the most ancient in the system of world perception and world understanding and serves as a starting point for the interpretation of such categorical oppositions as bottom-top, much-little, close-far, etc. The presented opposition nominates the perception of the cosmos, the universe in the linguistic picture of the world. The nominative space heaven-earth reflects the extralinguistic significance of this language pair, which characterizes both climatic and geographical aspects of human existence, as well as knowledge about the religious sphere and the system of cultural values.

The problem of the functioning of the heaven-earth opposition in the Russian and English semantic space is caused by the pragmatics of unfixed indicators of the use of words (as a rule, partner words), on the basis of which interaction with relevant concepts is carried out. Within the framework of the presented article, the author pursues not so much the goal of in-depth analysis of each given case of the use of a language unit, as to trace the specifics of the implementation of logical relations between the components of the semantic field, expressed in projecting the logical actualization of the original ideal model on the specific pragmatics of the lexeme [3, p. 162].

The development of the expressive potential of semantically conditioned content includes not only an understanding of the meaning of a word and its relation to the invariant, but also the ability to determine the mechanisms of the use of a particular meaning. An unambiguous interpretation of the word is the key to a correct understanding of the fragment of the utterance and the content of the message as a whole. The pragmatic meaning within the limits of a subjective attitude to a unit of language can be interpreted quite broadly, but as soon as this unit turns out to be a component of the syntagma, it needs interpretation to the extent that it characterizes the object. The pragmatic component contains information about how the verbalization of the concept forms a specific, situation-driven meaning. The structure and content of the concept allows us to determine the analysis of its expression plan [10, p. 99].

At the same time, it is important to take into account the national and cultural specifics of the concepts [13, p. 145-178]. We realize that the concept is an expression of the national specifics of the language. As O.A. Mikhailova rightly notes, referring to the dictionary, to the components that make up the content of the word in their entirety, it is possible to reconstruct the national picture of the world [7, p. 4]. In the Russian-language lexicon, the compilers of explanatory dictionaries have noted the following variations of the semantic realization of the sky sema: a) visible space above the earth; b) the abode of God; c) a fragment of climatic space; d) the upper part, the ceiling; e) higher forces; f)canopy, tent.

In the English language picture of the world, the sky/heaven lexemes are mainly used, of which the first characterizes a non-religious picture of the world, and the second nominates a religious name with the semantics and conceptual content of paradise.

The projection of the actual meanings inherent in the lexeme earth in the explanatory register of the Russian language is quite extensive: a) the planet of the Solar system; b) the antipode of air or water space; c) soil; d) the state; e)territory with land; f) a unit of administrative-territorial division; g) background, wall surface, fabric; h) the ancient name of the letter Z; i)the reality opposite to the ideal heavenly world; k)people; l) the name of the paints.

The logical and semantic content of the concept "earth" in English is explicated in the following units: land/earth/ground/soil/ territory. The meaning of cognitive education land includes in English linguoculture the following elements of a general conceptual characteristic: a) the object of ownership; b) material for agricultural activities; c)the subject of law; d) geological concept; e) the location of the nation, the people; f) a metaphor for something unified, integral; g) the metonymic name of the people inhabiting the territory; h) the state structure; i) the nomination of agricultural activity.

The toponymic potential of the land lexeme is realized through the methods of word formation of a hybrid nature, reflection of past events that impressed contemporaries, perception of the earth as a subject of jurisprudence. The dominant component of semantics is the meaning of ownership, an object that can be disposed of, and only after that the land is perceived through the prism of aesthetics, cognition and agricultural activity [6, p. 314]. This concept illustrates both the universality and the specifics of national perception, projecting fragments of socially significant processes onto the content of semantic variants. The state of verbal embodiment of the phenomenon under consideration allows us to fix the representation of such linguistic semiotic features as figurative, value, subject and mental. Territory comes from Lat. terra, which meant uncultivated land, and also expressed an antonymy in relation to the sea, water.

The conceptual basis of the language unit earth reflects belonging to its semantic space of the following meanings: a) planet, globe; b) the upper layer of the earth's crust; c) soil; d) animal lair; e) "elements"; f) grounding; g) opposition to the divine world; h) a significant amount of money; and) one of the four elements; k) color; l) inhabitants of the planet Earth; m) the location of a person before leaving for another world. The concept of "earth", represented by the lexeme earth, demonstrates not only the totality of certain meanings, but also the process of motivation from invariant to abstract names that implement a figurative, conceptual or symbolic nature in a specific text.

The semantics of the lexeme ground contains the values of a) the top layer of soil, the soil from the position of composition; b) the background, the bottom layer, the basis for applying the next layer; c) the foundation, the reason, the motive; d) everyday space, the world of people; e) the territory intended for the construction of houses and farm buildings; f) the estate; g) the land on which the park or garden is located. This linguistic unit is characterized by the dynamics of actual content within the framework of reflection and reception of reality, the expansion of the figurative and conceptual content of nominative clusters.

Thus, the heaven-earth opposition in the Russian and English language pictures of the world is characterized by nomination processes aimed at various groups. The structural organization of the presented concepts captures the specifics of understanding the universe by naive consciousness. The manifestation of expanded polysemy is a constitutive property of natural languages and indicates the desire of the language to express the greatest number of meanings through limited lexical tools based on the use of associative connections [8, p. 57].

In the Russian language picture of the world, there is a development of the content potential of the concept "sky" to several meanings. This lexical unit is not limited by any limits of concepts that can interact with it. As a sign (or designator), the concept of "sky" represents information about a real mental formation of a spatial, religious, climatic and physical nature. The core value of the presented mental formation is the spatial characteristic of a fragment of the universe, providing a human level of perception and illustrating the self-sufficient nature of the primary content of the concept [12, p. 376].

In its logical structure, the concept correlates primarily with the sign, but its content component is entirely determined by pragmatics, experience of use. The designator of the concept "sky" in the Russian-speaking linguoculture has a systemic organization that has developed in the process of interpretation by consciousness of the structure of the cognizable world. The system of meanings of the concept "sky" characterizes the degree of interaction between the signifier and the signified, and also expresses a number of similar meanings on the basis of metaphorical transference. The classification scheme is created mainly on the basis of the form, not the value, and the values, in turn, tend to behave independently of the form [2, p. 475].

The content aspect of the concept "sky" is formed by reality and perception experience, and the actualization of one meaning from the set is determined by the task of the communicative act and the corresponding subject area. The number of values is determined by their relevance in human practice. The use of the verbal sign sky is associated with the variation of the boundaries of the concept, which reveals in each case of use, in addition to the characteristics of the usual meaning, a set of features inherent in the context.

Valence, differential and distributive characteristics allow us to judge the priority of denotations of values in communicative practice, i.e. a certain spectrum of the semantic field, functionally in demand in the system of values within the collective or society [1, p. 159]. The concept of "heaven", being verbalized in speech, illustrates such a significant difference in the described situations that in human consciousness these cases are perceived as the use of concepts that differ in semantic content. Thus, the phrases blue sky, heavenly inhabitants (one of the onyms of saints in religious discourse), the sky burst into a thunderstorm, the heavens do not favor, spread out like the sky allow us to establish a number of significantly different meanings motivated by the logical and semantic behavior of partner words and semantic transformations. The structure of lexical polysemy is represented by the sphere of potentially possible semantic variation of a word with an initial meaning.

The implication connections of each semantic derivative of the nebo lexeme are characterized by the reflection of entities that form cause-effect relationships, dependencies, correlations based on time, space, belonging to the whole, actualized on a regular basis or at the same time, unidirectional or mutually directed, strictly defined or probabilistic [5, p. 218]. The variety of connections of the ontological structure of the mental unit under consideration is of a massive nature, often used to such an extent that it is not perceived by the communicant as a nominative phenomenon, extraordinary in nature, because of the ordinary and brought to automatism of exploitation. An important feature of the concept of "sky" is the presence of hypo-hyperonymic connections directed exclusively and inclusively. The core of the system of hypo-hyperonymic relations of the sky seme is a sememe with the meaning "visible space above the earth", and the remaining values are a product of the development of the general, i.e. there is a ratio of a more meaningful relationship to a less meaningful one [11, p. 27]. However, the reverse option is also possible, when in the genetic-dynamic plan diachronic consideration registers inclusion is the relation of peripheral semantic education to nuclear education.

So, in the English language picture of the world, the semantics of the concept of "earth" is undergoing development from a topographical meaning to a legal and agricultural one, accompanied by linguistic and semiotic variation. The use of the lexeme in legal discourse is due to the processes of granting by the king and securing the territory to a certain owner who did not have the right to dispose of the land (to give and transfer to another person) without the king's knowledge. These historical phenomena attributed the events of purchase, sale, taxation, donation, imposition of fines. In the semiotic space of agrarian culture, the functioning of the concept of "land" declares accompanying nominative units, such as people who take part in its processing; income, on which the satisfaction of vital needs largely depended; lands intended for hunting; an inheritance in which the monarch is the vicar of God.

The concept of "sky", represented by the name sky in English linguoculture, is not subject to mutation in its dictionary meaning, but generates an actual meaning within the linguistic context by means of a rematical allocation of the content components of the semantic structure in order to achieve expressiveness and artistic capacity. A set of qualities inherent in a linguistic unit exists potentially and is conditioned by the installation for use in a particular type of discourse, where the speaker's goal sets the aggregate state of the semantic structure of the lexeme in a particular case, resulting in the concentration of the expressive function, accompanied by the mobilization of the semantic connection between the signifier and the signified.

Thus, the expansion of the signified leads to hypersemantization and limitation of the possible interpretation in the context. The reflection of the facts of existing or imaginary reality in the sign composes the pragmatic and cognitive components of the objectified data, where the first fixes the evaluative attitude of the subject to the denotation, and the second a set of extensional projections. In speech, the sky lexeme nominates a part of visible space, the existence of which in naive consciousness is associated with a number of properties: a) a place from where you can fall; b) a source of rain; c) a body that can split and collapse; d) a space on which you can swim, fly and move; e) a light source, which does not go out; f) the degree of measurement (e.g., praise to heaven). The logical concept of the sky, represented by the word sky, expresses not only a semantically actualized fragment of a meaningful space, but brings to the fore in a specific communicative situation the demanded operational mode. Cognitive modes of meaning in the process of interaction of partner words participate in the formation of a set of semantic features, determining the boundaries of the norm and the extremes relevant to the concept by their quantitative measure.

The central link of semantic variation of the sky language unit demonstrates the case of local tropeization, when a structural shift in the semantic organization of verbal education occurs according to a derivational model at the level of a lexical unit representing a certain concept. The formation of cognitive meaning is accompanied by the appearance of a number of secondary meanings due to functional and paradigmatic connections and tending to a certain general meaning, semantic dominant [9, p. 174]. The linguistic sign used in the context illustrates not only the cognitive-pragmatic load of the presented sememe, but also its connotative potential, which in the context of the plot produces conditions for allusive perception [4, p. 119].

The heaven representative of the concept "heaven", in turn, fixes a list of manifestations of the semantic structure of the word, according to which it interacts with the invariant space of their logical-semantic structure, implemented as an actual kind of semantics in the context environment. The set of associations inherent in a particular case of word usage motivates the appeal to the original meaning, which has become a kind of starting point for the development of semantic-derivational connections and the allocation of a component of the semantic structure within the actualization of the meaning of the word.

Heaven exhibits the following properties of the nomination: a) paradise; b) the metonymic name of God; c) the dwelling place of God and angels; d) the place where souls fall after the death of the body; e) the space where clouds are located and move; f) everything holy (for heaven! for God's sake!). As can be seen, despite the multiplicity of contexts in which the possibility of multivalued interpretation is intentionally allowed, the implementation of polysemic content is partly due to the functional register, belonging to a certain jargon or style of speech, as well as their inherent system of cognitive representations. The dominant segment of the semantic structure of this linguistic unit is the meaning of world perception through the prism of religion. Heaven (or heaven) in this case correlates most closely with the concept of "holiness", since in the naive picture of the world there is identification with God, holiness and angels. This mental construct, normatively semanticized, is characterized by non-standard expression of meaning, imagery and a tendency to metaphorical and metonymic description of reality and the production of ideomatic constructions. The model of the semantic structure of the word heaven declares the meaning of paradise as central, in relation to which the other meanings are peripheral, are indirectly related to each other and are meaningfully close.

In the Russian language picture of the world, the concept of "earth", represented by the lexical unit of the same name, illustrates a set of features that allow the inclusion of nominative units in the content that differ significantly in the content plan. The interaction of the meaning of polysemantic education with word meanings located beyond the orbit of semantic space makes it possible to touch those norms, linguistic principles of functioning and limits of exploitation that the speaker is guided by at the subconscious level. If the lexeme earth is used in the direct meaning, denoting the ground or part of the visible world, opposite to the water or air space, then in the figurative meaning, semantics begins to become less stable, nominative possibilities become limited and lose the original, inherent in the invariant meaning, the degree of freedom. The process of secondary nomination can be effective only in the case of interaction of the lexeme or with the word-qualifier, or with the logical organization of the context, blocking more obvious semantic meanings.

Peripheral meanings are associated with a specific conceptual sphere, which, along with the nuclear one, make it possible to comprehend the picture of the world in the key of a culturally significant entity. A specific feature of the lexeme under consideration is the ability to nominate both objects of the visible world and abstract, speculative ones. The diffuseness of the meanings of the seme earth is due to extralinguistic factors, the influence of which allows the language to single out one of the meanings as a nuclear component of the semantic structure, and the rest as peripheral.

In English linguoculture, the concept of "earth" is represented by the lexemes land/earth/ground/soil/territory. The verbalization of this concept reflects not only the spheres of being, but also the perception of the surrounding world through the prism of professional activity and job responsibilities, which involve the use of a specific word in the process of historical development that has acquired a specific meaning. The main areas of functioning of the concept "land" in English are topographic, institutional, religious, philosophical, economic and agricultural.

Considering the conceptual binary opposition heaven-earth in the Russian-speaking linguistic and cultural space, it should be noted its high nominative density and ethnocultural specificity, which is expressed in lexical semantics. This opposition occupies a key position in the worldview system, since it is actively involved in the formation of a system of meaningful forms whose hypersemantic components are antonymous. The conceptual contrast of this opposition is formed by a set of hyposemes involving actual dichotomically opposed components of the content space in semantic opposition. The realization of antinomy is carried out mainly on the basis of location in space: if the sky is a concept describing a fragment of the universe characterized by location at a certain height, then the earth nominates the material that is the shell of the globe and the space on the fertility of which human life depends. If the earth is perceived as an obvious object, then the sky was associated with something mysterious and inaccessible.

The mental design of the heaven-earth semantic pair is marked by the development of the nuclear meaning of each language unit in the direction of nominating the phenomena of visually perceived, physical space and phenomena inherent in the religious and spiritual world. If the constructive and logical construction of the lexeme earth demonstrates a tendency to denote the content space of variations by denotation, then the cultural and historical context of the use of the lexeme heaven is productive in relation to the behavior of this unit as a conceptual inversion.

Thus, the heaven-earth opposition in the Russian and English language pictures of the world is characterized by nomination processes aimed at various groups. The structural organization of the presented concepts captures the specifics of understanding the universe by naive consciousness. The manifestation of expanded polysemy is a constitutive property of natural languages and indicates the desire of the language to express the greatest number of meanings through limited lexical tools based on the use of associative connections.

References
1. Glebkin, V.V. (2012). Lexical semantics: cultural-historical approach. Moscow: Center for Humanitarian Initiatives.
2. Dobrokhotov, A.L. (2016). Philosophy of culture. Moscow: Publishing House of the Higher School of Economics.
3. Kasevich, V.B. (2013). Cognitive linguistics: in search of identity. Moscow: Languages of Slavic culture.
4. Kelle, V.Zh. (2011). Intellectual and spiritual principles in culture. Moscow: Institute of Philosophy RAS.
5. Kudishina, A.A. (2005). Humanism is a phenomenon of modern culture. Moscow: Academic Project.
6. Kustova, G.I. (2004). Derived value types and language extension mechanisms. Moscow: Languages of Slavic culture.
7. Mikhailova, O.A. (1998). Restrictions in lexical semantics: Semasiological and linguoculturological aspects. Yekaterinburg: Ural University Press.
8. Neretina S.S., Ogurtsov A.P., Murzin N.N., & Pavlov-Pinus K.A. (2017). Aporias of discourse. Moscow: Institute of Philosophy RAS.
9. Nikitin, M.V. (1974). Lexical meaning in the word and phrase: Special course in general and English. lexicology. Vladimir: Vladimir State Pedagogical Institute named after P.I. Lebedev-Polyansky.
10. Shagbanova H.S. (2023). The concepts of "emotion" and "emotion" in the Russian and English language pictures of the world. Litera, 6, 98-106. Retrieved from https://nbpublish.com/library_read_article.php?id=41025
11. Shilyaev, K.S. (2018). Basic concepts of cognitive semantics. Tomsk: Tomsk State University.
12. Evans, V. (2015). Conceptual and interword polysemy: analysis in terms of the theory of lexical concepts and cognitive models. Language and Thought: Modern Cognitive Linguistics, 350-387. Moscow: Languages of Slavic culture.
13. Wierzbicka, A. (1985). Different Cultures. different languages. Different Speech Acts. Journal of Pragmatics, 9(2-3), 145-178.

Peer Review

Peer reviewers' evaluations remain confidential and are not disclosed to the public. Only external reviews, authorized for publication by the article's author(s), are made public. Typically, these final reviews are conducted after the manuscript's revision. Adhering to our double-blind review policy, the reviewer's identity is kept confidential.
The list of publisher reviewers can be found here.

The article "Binary opposition heaven-Earth in Russian and English", proposed for publication in the journal "Litera", is undoubtedly relevant, due to the growing interest in the comparative study of languages and cultures, and also makes a certain contribution to the study of the linguistic picture of the world. In the framework of this work, the author addresses the basic opposition "heaven-earth" in the linguistic picture of native Russian speakers and native English speakers. The presented opposition nominates the perception of the cosmos, the universe in the linguistic picture of the world. Within the framework of the presented article, the author pursues not so much the goal of in-depth analysis of each given case of using a unit of language, as to trace the specifics of the implementation of logical relations between the components of the semantic field, expressed in projecting the logical actualization of the initial ideal model onto the specific pragmatics of the lexeme. The study is comparative, based on the material of two languages. It should be noted that there is a relatively small number of studies on this topic in Russian linguistics. The article is innovative, one of the first in Russian linguistics devoted to the study of such issues. The article presents a research methodology, the choice of which is quite adequate to the goals and objectives of the work. The author turns, among other things, to various methods to confirm the hypothesis put forward. The article uses general linguistic methods of observation and description, as well as methods of discursive and cognitive analysis, semiotic methods and methods of modeling language. Unfortunately, the author does not provide data on the practical material, namely the selected language corpus for the study. Also, the author's conclusions are not supported by language examples taken from their texts or convincing statistical data on word usage or data obtained as a result of interviewing respondents. This work was done professionally, in compliance with the basic canons of scientific research. The research was carried out in line with modern scientific approaches, the work consists of an introduction containing the formulation of the problem, the main part, traditionally beginning with a review of theoretical sources and scientific directions, a research and a final one, which presents the conclusions obtained by the author. It should be noted that the introductory part does not provide an overview of the development of problems in both foreign and domestic linguistics. This fact does not allow us to identify the scientific increment of knowledge and evaluate the novelty of the research and the author's contribution. It should be noted that the conclusion requires strengthening, it does not fully reflect the tasks set by the author and does not contain prospects for further research in line with the stated issues. The bibliography of the article contains 13 sources, among which scientific works are presented in both Russian and foreign languages. Unfortunately, the article does not contain references to the fundamental works of Russian researchers, such as monographs, PhD and doctoral dissertations. The comments made are not significant and do not detract from the overall positive impression of the reviewed work. Typos, spelling and syntactic errors, inaccuracies in the text of the work were not found. The work is innovative, representing the author's vision of solving the issue under consideration and may have a logical continuation in further research. The practical significance of the research lies in the possibility of using its results in the teaching of university courses in lexicology, comparative study of Russian and English cultures, practice of the English language, as well as courses on interdisciplinary research on the relationship between language and society. The article will undoubtedly be useful to a wide range of people, philologists, undergraduates and graduate students of specialized universities. The article "Binary opposition heaven-earth in Russian and English" can be recommended for publication in a scientific journal.