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Philology: scientific researches

Features of L.E. Ulitskaya's idiosyncrasy and the problem of its interlanguage transmission (based on the material of originals and translations into English of L.E. Ulitskaya's works "Medea and her Children", "Daniel Stein, translator")

Bozhanova Kseniia Sergeevna

Postgraduate student, Department of Contrastive Linguistics, Moscow State Pedagogical University

88 Prospekt Vernadskogo str., Moscow, 119571, Russia

Other publications by this author










Abstract: The purpose of the study is to consider various definitions and approaches to the concept of idiostyle. To identify and describe the characteristic features of the idiostyle of L.E. Ulitskaya's works "Medea and her Children", "Daniel Stein, translator", as well as to compare the original texts of the novels with their translation and determine whether the idiostyle is preserved when translating these works of L.E. Ulitskaya into English. To analyze which translation techniques were used to convey the idiostyle. The purpose of the study identified the following tasks: firstly, to define the concepts of idiostyle and idiolect; secondly, to consider the difference between the concepts of idiostyle and idiolect; thirdly, to identify the features that form the idiostyle of L.E.Ulitskaya; fourthly, to consider the features of translation, the elements that form the idiostyle. The subject of the study is the idiosyncrasy and the features that form the idiosyncrasy of the works under consideration. The object of the analysis is the semantic means and grammatical structures that form the idiostyle, and the features of their translation into English. The comparative method allows us to determine whether national cultural components are preserved in translation, whether the phrases of greeting and farewell in letters change, whether the realities of Russian culture are conveyed in the texts of translations. The method of contextual analysis consists in the study of fragments of novels, and in the study of the functional specificity of words in the context used. The scientific novelty lies in the identification of idiosyncratic features based on the comparison of L.E. Ulitskaya's novels "Medea and her Children", "Daniel Stein, translator". The theoretical and practical significance is due to the possibility of applying the research results and conclusions in further development of issues of preserving idiostyle in translation, determining the content of lectures and practical classes in stylistics, linguoculturology, as well as in the construction of courses "Linguistic text analysis" and "Theory and practice of translation". As a result of the research, the most striking elements that form the idiosyncrasy of L.E.Ulitskaya were identified, namely: the use of proper names in the titles of novels, as well as letters in the texts of works, the use of phrases of greeting and farewell, rhetorical questions, anthroponyms, metaphors, repetitions.


idiostyle, letters, translation of metaphors, translation of realities, translation losses, equivalent correspondences, anthroponyms, comparison, semantics, pragmatic effect

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


The focus of our work is on the idiostyle, which S.Y. Ermolenko considers a set of "cultural and expressive means that perform an aesthetic function and distinguish the language of an individual writer from others" (Ermolenko, 1999, p. 112). The novels "Medea and her Children" (1996) and "Daniel Stein, Translator" (2006), as well as their translations into English by Arch Tate, an English teacher, writer and translator, served as material for analyzing and identifying the features of L.E. Ulitskaya's idiosyncrasy. The novel "Medea and her Children"/ "Medea and Her Children" was translated into English in 2002, and the novel "Daniel Stein, translator"/ "Daniel Stein, Interpreter" in 2011.

L.E. Ulitskaya "interacts" with readers and expresses her author's position through a variety of stylistic means, such as rhetorical questions, linguistic repetitions, realities, metaphors, proverbs and sayings. All this forms a peculiar style of L.E. Ulitskaya's works, which must be preserved when translated into English. This article will analyze the difficulties faced by the translator when working with the novels "Medea and her Children", "Daniel Stein, translator", and also determine whether the idiosyncrasy of the original text will be preserved during translation.

Definition of the concept of idiostyle and idiolect

In foreign literature, most of the research is devoted to the concept of idiolect, which is "equated with the author's idiostyle and is considered as a semiotic cumulative system, as a kind of mental and contextual space influenced by general cultural and general linguistic factors" [1]. In other words, researchers equate idiolect with the linguistic specifics of the author's style. Let's analyze how foreign researchers interpret these concepts. In French science, the concept of signature stylistique is identical to the concept of idiostyle. French scientists E. Bordas ("Le rythme de la prose"), A. Rabatel (A. Rabatel) (Idiolecte, ethos, point de vue: la repr?sentation du discours de l'autre dans le discours d'ego"), R. Barthe ("Le plaisir du texte), J. Philippe (G. Philippe) (Idiolecte, ethos, point de vue: la repr?sentation du discours de l'autre dans le discours d'ego") studied the concept of the author's idostyle.

E. Borda establishes similarities between the concepts of idiolect and style and uses the term singularity of the author's language [17, p. 32]. According to J. Philippe, "idiolect is at the same level of importance as linguistic repetitions. J. Philippe considers the idiolectical peculiarity of the author as well as the peculiarity of intonation, melody inherent in the speech of a particular person" [23, p. 45]. F. Rastier agrees with R. Barth's opinion and connects the concept of idiolect with the concept of the individual characteristics of the author and the author's style, which are based on the idiolect [18].

The English researcher J. Robinson in his work "Style and Personality in the Literary Work" writes that the attitude to style is related to the description of linguistic characteristics. He notes that the concept of individual style includes not only the structure of sentences, vocabulary and imagery, but also the personality of the author of the work, his attitude to the events described. In his study, D. Brundage Acting on Words: An Integrated Rhetorical, Research Guide, Reader, and Handnook, with My Canadian-CompLab" examines the relationship between idiolect and the rhythm of the text. He identifies clear criteria for an ideal author's style: careful selection of words, sentence structure, imagery, rhythm, and narrative form [20].

Let's consider the concept of idiostyle in the interpretation of Russian scientists. Idiostyle is "a multidimensional and multilevel reflection of the linguistic personality of the creator, "standing" behind the text, taking into account its diverse manifestations in the process of textual activity, including orientation to the addressee" [4, p.159]. V.P. Grigoriev correlates the concept of idiostyle and idiolect, and also identifies differences between these terms. Based on the ideas presented by the researcher, it can be concluded that an idiolect "characterizes the linguistic features of a native speaker in oral and written speech, and an idiostyle correlates with textual characteristics, that is, interacts with written communication" [17, p. 95]. A.S. Zubinova defines an idiostyle as "a set of deep generative mechanisms for creating a text space in a certain way an author who distinguishes him from others" [8, p. 11].

An idiostyle is a dialogue between an author and a reader. Depending on the tasks, goals of the author and his communicative strategy, the idiostyle determines the development of speech-thinking activity. The writer's idiosyncrasy reflects the psychological characteristics of his individual personality, as well as his political, ethical, and religious views. According to M.P. Brandes, "the specifics of idiostyle are determined by public consciousness and the features of the historical epoch in which the writer lived and worked" [7, p. 252]. This understanding of the idiostyle is connected with the concept of the writer's linguistic picture of the world, which includes the author's understanding and vision of the world and the events presented in the work. In our work, we will adhere to this interpretation of this concept. V.M. Borisova defines the author's picture of the world as "an object picture in its subjective representation through individual and creative representation" [6, p.187].

Let's consider the concept of idiostyle in a narrow sense, according to which this term is associated "with a system of linguistic stylistic means characteristic of the creative manner of this writer" [4, p. 10]. According to many researchers, the creative personality of the author is closely related to a certain principle of selection and use of language tools, which cannot be separated from each other, but must be considered in combination. According to I.V. Arnold, "it is possible to form an idea of the author's worldview, his mood, and get an idea of his value and moral criteria only in the process of studying a work where connotative meanings of words, metaphorical images, morphological forms, syntactic constructions, rhythm, etc. are combined and interact in a certain way" [2, p. 14].

According to E.A. Fomenko, the following idiosyncratic features can be distinguished:

1) "the language of the writer's idiostyle has a linguotypological nature, since it shares with other idiostyles of writers the artistic discourse of the epoch;

2) the writer's idiosyncrasy masters the potential of the contemporary language of fiction;

3) the language of the writer's idiosyncrasy is the bearer of a uniform variant, the linguotypological foundations of which are inherent in the literary text of its time" [15, p. 123].

Based on the analysis of the texts of the novels "Daniel Stein, Translator" and "Medea and her Children", we have identified the following characteristics that form the idiosyncrasy of L.E. Ulitskaya's novels: proper names in the titles of works, the inclusion of letters of the characters in the main narrative, special constructions of phrases of greeting and farewell, the use of rhetorical questions, linguistic repetitions, metaphors, proverbs, sayings, realities. Let's consider each of these characteristics and determine which translation techniques and transformations were used in their interlanguage transmission.

1. Proper names in the titles of novels

In the titles of the novels, L.E. Ulitskaya uses proper names, probably because special attention in the text of the works is paid to the main character, and the plot is based on his fate and actions. L.E. Ulitskaya's novels have the following titles: "Sincerely yours, Shurik", "Daniel Stein, translator", "Medea and her Children", "Yakovlev's Ladder". When translating the name "Daniel Stein, Translator" into English ("Daniel Stein, Interpreter"), a transliteration and matching technique was used, punctuation was preserved. When translating the title, the author's idea is fully preserved: the main character, Daniel Stein, is a translator not only in his professional activity, but also an intermediary between God and people.

The title of the novel "Medea and her Children", written in 1996, contains an allusion to the myth of Medea and Jason. "Myths, as eternal lessons for humanity, as carriers of living energy, are subject to reassessment and rethinking. The sublime Sophia principle, boundless responsiveness to the good of the heroine of the novel "Medea and the Children", as it were, gives rise to a polemic with the traditional myth and creates a new myth about Medea of the twentieth century on the basis of a new worldview. This myth is about overcoming chaos and evil by harmony" [11, p. 547]. When translating the title of the novel into English (Medea and Her Children), the translator uses the technique of searching for an equivalent match for the name (Medea/Medea). The name has ancient Greek roots, and the myth mentioned is part of a single cultural heritage, therefore, the choice of such a translation technique allows you to preserve the allusion inherent in the title of the novel. The second part of the title is also translated by matching the equivalent (... and her children/ ... and her Children). This version of the English translation conveys the semantics of the title and retains a reference to the myth.

2. The use of letters in the texts of novels

In the novel "Daniel Stein, translator", the reader encounters a large number of letters (they make up 2/3 of the total volume of the work) that the main character, Daniel, sends to his friends or relatives. Only eight letters are included in the novel "Medea and her children" (three are addressed by Medea to her childhood friend Elena, three letters are sent by other characters of the novel, and only two letters are answered). The novels "Medea and her Children", "Daniel Stein, translator" include personal letters that use the vocabulary that makes up the spoken written speech of the characters, therefore linguistic compression is often found in the texts of letters. For example: "Let everyone leave, and you, my child, stay. You're going to Feodosia. Don't be afraid of anything" [14, 10]. In this sentence, language pauses are marked with the help of linguistic division.

2.1. The use of rhetorical questions in the texts of letters as a form of interaction between the characters

The use of rhetorical questions increases the emotionality of the text, with the help of which the author places the necessary accents. In the novel Medea and Her Children, a large number of rhetorical questions are found in Medea's speech. This can be explained by the fact that Medea is the main character of the work, respectively, the text describes mainly her thoughts and experiences. A comparison of the Russian and the corresponding English contexts of the novel is carried out and we will try to establish whether the interlanguage transmission of such constructions constitutes a translation difficulty.

"Do you remember, Elenochka, what the Eastern Crimea was like under the Tatars? And the Inner One? [14, c. 14].

Do you remember, Elena, what the Eastern Crimea used to be like when the Tatars were here? AndCentralCrimea? [25, p.12].

In this case, when translating rhetorical questions, the structure of sentences does not change, thus the emotional component of the original text and the "dialogue" of the sender of the letter and the recipient are completely preserved.

In the novel "Daniel Stein, Translator", rhetorical questions are more common in the speech of Daniel and Hilda.

"In general, Avigdor, I feel sorry for the guy. Come, maybe he'll listen to you? Bring him photos from Palestine there, I don't know what, maybe you can persuade him?" [13, p.34].

All in all, Avigdor, I am sorry for the lad. Come and see us. Perhaps he will listen to you. Bring him some photographs of Palestine or whatever. Perhaps you will be able to talk sense to him [24, p.25].

In the original text, L.E. Ulitskaya uses interrogative constructions to convey emotional interest and simulate direct communication between the characters. However, they are omitted in the translation text, but the emotive component is not lost, it is transmitted by dividing sentences: Come and see us. Bring him some photographs Perhaps he will listen to you. Perhaps you will be able to talk.

2.2. Phrases of greeting and farewell in letters included in the main narrative

Analyzing the phrases of greeting in the letters included in the novels, it can be noted that the most frequent construction of the address is "Dear + name". The choice of such a construction indicates that the sender of the letter and the recipient are in a trusting, friendly relationship. To translate the words "dear" / "dear", the equivalent of "dear" is used, which, regardless of the type of relationship and the degree of proximity of the addressee and the addressee, is an obligatory component of address constructions in English written speech. Accordingly, in this case, we can talk about a kind of paradox the selection of a full equivalent in translation does not ensure the transfer of the connotative meaning of the original lexeme.

When translating proper names in the texts of letters and phrases of greeting and farewell, a number of difficulties arise. So, in the text of the novels there are diminutive forms of names ("Dear Elena" - "Dear Elena", "Dear Samosha" "Dear Samsy"), the use of which can be explained by the format of a friendly letter and the trusting relationship between the characters. It is not possible to preserve the diminutive forms of names in the translation text, most often the official forms of the name are used instead, for example, Elena:

"Dear Elena! Although I sent you a letter just a week ago, there was one event that really went out of the ordinary, and that's what I want to tell you about" [14, p.3].

Dear Elena, Although I wrote to you only a week ago, something really quite extraordinary has happened, and that is what I would like to tell you about [25, p.2].

The choice of such a translation solution can be explained by a different system of diminutive suffixes in English. In this case, one could use the technique of transcription or transliteration and give an appropriate comment on the specifics of the formation of diminutive forms of the name in the Russian language. When replacing the diminutive form of the name with the official one, the friendly format of the letter is lost, it becomes more official.

3. The use of colloquialisms for the creation of a psychological and speech portrait of heroes

In L.E. Ulitskaya's novels "Medea and her children" and "Daniel Stein, translator" there is a colloquial vocabulary involved in creating a psychological and speech portrait of the characters. Most units are used to describe the appearance, habits, or flaws of characters. Vernacular vocabulary is also used to create an ironic effect in certain contexts. For example:

"In Ivan Isaevich, she discovered more and more new advantages, but she turned sour every time from his "pinjaks" and "tubarettes"..." [14, p. 160]. In this description, the author intentionally includes an incorrect spelling form of words the form that the character in question uses in his speech. Thus, in this case, the vernacular vocabulary is designed to emphasize the non-ideality of the hero, in particular, the presence of pronounceable (orthoepical errors) errors in his speech.

Let's analyze the use of vernacular in the text of the novel "Medea and her children":

"The cup of broth offered to him with a piece of yesterday's kulebyak and buckwheat porridge, cooked as if in a Russian oven, made a deep impression on Ivan Isaevich, who lived with dignity, cleanly, but still in a Bobyl way, without good homemade food" [14, p.28].

The bowl of broth he was offered with a piece of yesterdays meat kulebyaka, and buckwheat porridge which seemed to have been baked in a Russian stove, made a deep impression on Ivan Isaevich, who led a clean, worthy, but nevertheless bachelor existence, without good home cooking [25, p.107].

The adverb "Bobylski" is formed from the noun "bobyl". The "bobyl" lexeme is colloquial and is used in the context of referring to a person who is "lonely and does not have his own family" (Ozhegov). To translate the token "bobyl", the translator chooses the phrase "bachelor existence" (dosl. "bachelor existence") (Cambridge dictionary). The translation version of bachelor existence conveys the meaning of the original, but does not reflect the colloquialism of the phrase.

Let's consider another example of the use of colloquialisms in the text of a novel.

"A hanging kerosene lamp illuminated the table with a cloudy light, in a round spot of light stood the last bottle of homemade wine saved by Medea for this occasion and an open half liter of apple vodka, which she loved" [14, p.8].

A hanging oil lamp cast a dim light over the table, and in its circle stood one last bottle of homemade wine which Medea had been keeping for just this occasion and an already opened bottle of her favorite apple vodka [25, p.22].

The lexeme "half a liter", denoting a half-liter bottle of vodka, is translated into English by the noun "bottle, that is, the translator resorts to generalization. However, the connotation of the context has not been preserved, since the original lexeme is a vernacular and is used to reduce the stylistic register, while the English version refers to common vocabulary and has no additional connotations. In addition, there is a discrepancy in the semantic structure of the original translated components: "bottle" means a container that can be filled with any content, and a half liter is a container for strong alcoholic beverages.

4. Realities as an element of cultural reflection in L.E. Ulitskaya's novels

To create a national cultural background of works in the texts of the novels "Daniel Stein, Translator", "Medea and her Children", L.E. Ulitskaya uses realities to convey linguistic and cultural information. According to the definition, realities are "words denoting objects, concepts and situations that do not exist in the practical experience of people speaking another language" [3, p. 178].

The novel "Medea and her children" uses the realities of Russian culture (versta, caretaker), in the novel "Daniel Stein, translator" realities denoting objects of Jewish culture (giyur, halva). It is known that the realities present a certain translation difficulty. Let's consider how the problem of interlanguage transmission of realities is solved in the translations of the novels under consideration.

"She used to go with me to the local priest, he is also from Poland" [13, p.136].

She used to come with me to see a Catholic priest here. He is from Poland, too [24, p.104].

The word "priest", denoting a Catholic clergyman and used in religious terminology in Poland and Belarus, is conveyed using a descriptive translation (Catholic priest). In this case, we can talk about a loss of translation, since only the general meaning of the word has been preserved, and the national and cultural specificity has been lost.

Let's consider another example of the use and transmission of reality:

"... and it was not difficult for her to get up on Sunday before the light, walk twenty versts to Feodosia, stand mass there and return home in the evening" [14, p.6].

she thought nothing of rising before daybreak on a Sunday, putting the twenty kilometers to Theodosia behind her, standing through the liturgy, and walking back home toward evening [25 p.1].

The verst is a native Russian unit of distance measurement [12]. The lexeme "kilometer" is used to translate the reality of "verst" in English. According to D.N. Ushakov's explanatory dictionary, the verst is 1.06 km [12]. The kilometer lexeme almost accurately conveys the quantitative value of the distance that Medea traveled, but does not reflect the national and cultural flavor of the original context.

5.Linguistic repetition as a syntactic feature of L.E. Ulitskaya's idiosyncrasy

The use of language repetition sets a chain of key images that are constantly reproduced in the text. Z.P. Kulikova distinguishes the following types of repetitions: "phonetic, word-formation, lexical, lexico-syntactic, semantic, morphological and syntactic" [10, pp. 7-8].

In the novels under consideration, lexical repetition is most often used:

"Both girls Medea and Elena graduated from the third grade with round fives, but these fives were different: light, with a large margin of safety for Elena and labor, calloused for Medea. Despite all the unequal weight, there are five of them, and at the annual release they received the same gifts" [14, p.30].

Both Medea and Elena finished the third grade with top marks in all subjects, but there was nevertheless a difference between their marks. Elenas were effortless, with plenty in reserve: Medeas were the hard-won product of sweat and toil. For all the unequal weight of their marks, they received identical awards [25, p.25].

In this case, it is not completely possible to preserve the lexical repetition. The "five" lexeme used in the original novel is conveyed using different lexical units: "top marks" and "marks". As a result of such a translation solution, the emphasis on the word "five" is lost.

Let's analyze the use of repetition in a fragment of the novel "Daniel Stein, translator":

"He dug graves, closed his eyes, collected pieces of torn bodies, confessed and received communion, held hands, kissed, comforted relatives, sang, sang, sang..." [13, p.546].

I have dug graves, closed eyelids, collected parts of bodies which had been blown to bits, heard confessions, given the last rites, held hands, kissed the dying, comforted relatives, and conducted funeral service after funeral service after funeral service [24, p.47].

Lexical repetition is formed using the word "funeral service". At the end of the application, an ellipsis is used, which implies the repeated repetition of the "funeral service" token. The translator retains the lexical repetition, but does it not with the help of the verb "funeral" "conducted", which is used in the translation text once, but with the help of the phrase "funeral service". In addition to replacing the verb with a noun, the translator does not keep the ellipsis at the end of the sentence. We believe that this version of the translation does not fully convey the original, describing the hero's experiences and numerous religious actions, since the use of the verb makes the sentence more expressive.

6. Metaphors as an element of L.E. Ulitskaya's idiosyncrasy

Another characteristic feature of L.E. Ulitskaya's idiosyncrasy is the introduction of author's metaphors into texts. Let's look at examples of such metaphors and the difficulty of translating them into English.

"Dark blue shadows walked on the blue canvas of the patched sheets, the sheets slowly, sail-like bent, threatening to turn around and sail away into the rough blue sky" [13,p.3].

Dark blue shadows played over the light blue line of mended sheets, and they slowly billowed like sails, threatening to slew round and float away into the deeper blue of the sky [25, p.1].

L.E. Ulitskaya's idiosyncrasy is formed by various components, namely: the use of vernacular characters in the author's text and speech, means of artistic expression (author's metaphors, epithets, comparisons, etc.), various proverbs, sayings, phraseological turns, the combination of which gives the narrative an additional emotional coloring. As a result of comparing the original text with the text of the translation into Russian It was revealed that when translating the titles of novels, in 100% of cases it is possible to convey the semantics that L.E. Ulitskaya puts into the titles of works. Rhetorical questions remain in translations in 50% of cases. When translating the phrases of greeting and farewell, the corresponding equivalent in English is selected in 100% of cases. When translating anthroponyms, difficulties arise if the original text uses diminutive forms of names, which in 80% of cases are replaced by the official form of the name. Colloquialisms, realities, repetitions, metaphors, proverbs and sayings are preserved in translation texts in 50% of cases. Translation losses and substitutions can be explained by the difference in extralinguistic factors and structural features of the English language

It should be noted that in most cases the translator managed to convey the semantic component of the original language tools, while maintaining their figurative basis. In the same situations, when it was not possible to reproduce the pragmatic effect of the original, the translator resorted to descriptive translation, while focusing on the content plan.

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The article submitted for consideration "Features of L.E. Ulitskaya's idiosyncrasy and the problem of its interlanguage transmission (based on the material of originals and translations into English of L.E. Ulitskaya's works "Medea and her Children", "Daniel Stein, translator")", proposed for publication in the journal "Philology: Scientific Research", is undoubtedly relevant. The relevance of this research is due to the fact that the work is aimed at studying the writer's idiosyncrasy and the problem of its transmission in the translation of a literary text. In the reviewed article, the author attempts to analyze the difficulties faced by the translator when working with the novels "Medea and her Children", "Daniel Stein, translator", and also determines whether the idiosyncrasy of the original text will be preserved during translation. I would like to note the author's great and scrupulous work in analyzing theoretical sources. The scientific work was carried out in line with modern scientific approaches, professionally, in compliance with the basic canons of scientific research. In his research, the author resorts to a scientific generalization of literature on a selected topic and an analysis of factual data. Structurally, the work consists of an introduction containing the formulation of the problem, the main part, which traditionally begins with a review of theoretical sources and scientific directions, a research and a final one, which presents the conclusions obtained by the author. The article presents a research methodology, the choice of which is quite adequate to the goals and objectives of the work. The novels "Medea and her Children" (1996) and "Daniel Stein, Translator" (2006), as well as their translations into English by Arch Tate, an English teacher, writer and translator, served as material for analyzing and identifying the features of L.E. Ulitskaya's idiosyncrasy. The novel "Medea and her Children"/ "Mede.a and Her Children" was translated into English in 2002, and the novel "Daniel Stein, translator"/ "Daniel Stein, Interpreter" in 2011. The bibliography of the article contains 25 sources, among which there are both domestic and foreign works. A greater number of references to authoritative works, such as monographs, doctoral and/or PhD dissertations on related topics, which could strengthen the theoretical component of the work in line with the national scientific school. However, these remarks are of a recommendatory nature and do not have a significant impact on the perception of the scientific text presented to the reader. The article outlines the prospect of further research. In general, it should be noted that the article was written in a simple, understandable language for the reader, typos, spelling and syntactic errors, inaccuracies were not found. The article will undoubtedly be useful to a wide range of people, philologists, literary critics, undergraduates and graduate students of specialized universities. The results obtained can be used in the development of courses on the theory and practice of translation and literary theory. The general impression after reading the reviewed article "Peculiarities of L.E. Ulitskaya's idiosyncrasy and the problem of its interlanguage transmission (based on the material of originals and translations into English of L.E. Ulitskaya's works "Medea and her Children", "Daniel Stein, translator")" is positive, it can be recommended for publication in a scientific journal from the list of the Higher Attestation Commission.