CONTRASTIVE ANALYSIS OF THE ENGLISH AND RUSSIAN LANGUAGE PICTURE OF THE WORLD
AbstractThe subject matter of this paper is the Russian and English language picture of the world. The article is aimed at determining inherent and the most original traits of national character and mentality and their reflection in the Russian and English language – at both lexical and grammar levels. The further contrastive analysis has been carried out to reveal common and varying features of the two nations to draw conclusions concerning cross-cultural communication. On the lexical level, the analysis was made by means of defining “nationally-coloured” set expressions, phraseological units, proverbs, sayings, etc.; using statements of famous Russian and English writers about the national character and mentality; applying linguistic data of researchers on the topic under consideration. On the level of grammar, some typical structures for both languages were found out which show national identity. The conclusion was drawn that according to the analyzed properties of the English and Russian national character and mentality, the contrasted language pictures of the world reveal more differences than commonalities. Some common phenomena have been found: love for freedom, love for fairness (truth), tolerance and politeness. Nevertheless, the study shows that even these are very different in their core. That is why people (and politicians, in particular), dealing with cross-cultural communication between England and Russia, require much training and a very careful and inclusive attitude to each other to make our common world more friendly. As a result, two comparative tables were made which can be of possible use to the teachers and scholars in various fields concerning ethnic studies and cross-cultural communication.
Keywords: language, culture, mentality, English and Russian language picture of the world, national character, national mentality
In the modern scientific paradigm of linguistic researches, in particular, in cultural linguistics and linguodidactics, one of priority issues is studying a ratio of language, culture and thinking and various methods of reflecting reality in this or that ethnos. Efficiency of cross-cultural communication and teaching foreign languages in many respects depends on the knowledge of ethnic, group and other features of language, culture, national mentality of the studied ethnos (communicant) and a capability to unconflictive, mutually interested communication.
Now, the international contacts have extended; in the center of attention of communicative and anthropocentric linguistics there lies a relation of a language and a person; interest in cross-cultural communication and cross-cultural understanding, national identity of different people has become more active. Moreover, the number of interethnic conflicts requiring settlement has been increasing. Taking into consideration everything aforementioned, one can testify the relevance of researches in the sphere of cross-cultural communication.
The subject matter of this paper is the Russian and English language picture. This investigation is an extension of my previous work .
The article is aimed at determining inherent and the most original traits of national character and mentality and their reflection in the Russian and English language – at both lexical and grammar levels. The further comparative analysis has been carried out to reveal common and varying features of the two nations to draw conclusions concerning cross-cultural communication. On the lexical level the analysis was made by means of defining “nationally-coloured” set expressions, phraseological units, proverbs, sayings, etc.; using statements of famous Russian and English writers about the national character and mentality; applying linguistic data of researchers on the topic under consideration. On the level of grammar some typical structures for both languages were found out which show national identity. As a result two comparative tables were made which can be of possible use to the teachers and scholars in various fields concerning ethnic studies and cross-cultural communication.
From the sixtieth of the 20th century the problem of a picture of the world was considered within semiotics when studying primary modeling systems (language) and secondary modeling systems (the myth, religion, folklore, poetry, prose, cinema, painting, architecture, etc.). The culture at this approach was treated as «not hereditary memory of a collective», and its main task was the structural organization of the world around that finds its expression in a world model [2: 16-17)] Respectively, if different symbolic systems model the world differently, then different languages form unequal models of the world.
The monographs devoted to philosophical judgment of a picture of the world in Russian and other Slavic languages are distinguished in the following theoretical works (Apresyan, 1995; Arutyunova, 1999; Bulygina, 1981; Guard, 1987; Kubryakova, 2001; Likhachev, 1993; Postovalova, 1999; Stepanov, 1997; Shmelyov, 2002), to dialect pictures of the world (Zakiryanov, 2000), to mythological decoding of pictures of the world of Indo-European languages (Makovsky, 1996; Toporova, 1999), to word-formation and phraseological resources of a picture of the world (Thalia, 1996; Khayrullina, 1966), etc.
The term «picture of the world» which is used in philosophy, linguistics, physics and other disciplines is interpreted in different ways. According to B.A. Serebrennikov, for the first time this concept appeared in physics at the end of XIX – the beginning of the 20th century. Then Hertz (1918) applied this term in relation to the physical picture of the world treated by him as «set of internal images of external objects from which in the logical way it is possible to receive data concerning behavior of these objects» [3, p. 12]. Internal images, or the symbols of external objects created by researches of G. Herts, shall be such that «logically necessary consequences of these representations were in turn images of naturally necessary investigations of the displayed objects» [3, p. 12].
M. Plank understood the «image of the world» created by physical science and the nature reflecting real regularities as a physical picture of the world. M. Plank distinguished practical and scientific pictures of the world. He connected a practical picture of the world with the complete idea of the world around formed by a person which is developed by him/her gradually on the basis of his/her own experience. M. Plank treated a scientific picture of the world as model of the real world in an absolute sense, independent of individuals and all human thinking.
V.I. Karasik determines a world picture as «complete set of images of reality in collective consciousness» [4, p. 102]. Components, in his opinion, are images and concepts. Images are any perceptual, objectively existing or thought up mental formations created in one`s consciousness. Concepts are logically shaped general ideas of classes of objects or the phenomena.
The picture of the world represents a complex system of the images reflecting reality in collective consciousness. They differentiate scientific and naive pictures of the world, and if the former operates with the terms and it is constructed on practical and theoretical knowledge, then the latter is more dialectic and allows contradictory definitions of things.
According to A. Vezhbitskaya [5, p. 33-49], in all natural languages there are elementary concepts (semantic primitives) which are fundamental to the mankind (i.e. a part of genetic inheritance). I presume that these semantic primitives are characteristic of a naive picture of the world.
Interest in a language picture of the world can be found even in the works of W. Humboldt who wrote that various languages are bodies of their original thinking and perception for the nation. «Peculiarity of the spirit and the structure of alanguage of any people are so internally connected among themselves that if one of them was given, the second should be deduced from it. Language is also an external manifestation of the spirit of the people. Language is their spirit, and their spirit is their language. Never it is possible to express sufficiently their identity» [6, p. 147].
By the end of the 20th century many works appeared which were devoted to the problem under consideration: G.A. Brutyan, S.A. Vasilyev, G.V. Kolshansky, N.I. Sukalenko, M. Black, D. Hayms's works, collective monograph «A Human Factor in a Language. Language and Picture of the World», etc.
A language picture of the world precedes special pictures of the world (chemical, physical, etc.) and forms them [7, p. 63] because a person is capable to understand the world and him/herself thanks to the language in which socio-historical experience – both universal and national – is fixed. The latter also defines specific features of the language at all its levels. Owing to the specifics of the language in the consciousness of its carriers there is a certain language picture of the world through which a person sees the world.
Yu.D. Apresyan  emphasized prescientific character of a language picture of the world, calling it a naive picture. A language picture of the world supplements objective knowledge of reality often distorting it (take, for example, scientific definition and language interpretation of such words as atom, a point, light, warmly, etc.). Studying the semantics of these words, it is possible to reveal specifics of the cognitive (cogitative) models defining originality of a naive picture of the world.
Language is the most important way of formation and existence of knowledge of a person about the world. Reflecting the objective world in activity process, a person fixes the results of his/her knowledge of the world. A set of this knowledge imprinted in a language form represents a phenomenon which in various concepts is understood as «language intermediate world», «language representation of the world», «language model of the world», or «a language picture of the world». A language picture of the world is:
• «a set of knowledge imprinted in a language form» [7, p. 64];
• «a set of ideas of the world which has historically developed in ordinary consciousness of this language collective and reflected in a language, a certain way of conceptualization of reality» .
According to many researchers, a language picture of the world forms and directs the type of relation of a person to the world (to the nature, animals, him/herself as to a world element). It sets standards of behaviour of a person in the world, defines his/her relation to it. Each natural language reflects a certain way of perception and organization («conceptualization») of the world. The values expressed in this conceptualization develop in a certain uniform frame of viewpoints, some kind of collective philosophy which is imposed as obligatory for all native speakers.
Forming of LPW is influenced by language, traditions, nature and a landscape, education, training and other social factors.
To this day, the problem of interrelation of language and culture is one of central in linguistics. The first attempts of the solution of this problem can be traced in the works of W. Humboldt whose basic provisions of the concept can be reduced to the following: 1) material and spiritual culture are realized in a language; 2) any culture is national, its national character is expressed in a language by means of special vision of the world; the internal form (IF), specific to each people, is inherent in a language; 3) IF of a language is an expression of «national spirit», its culture; 4) a language is a mediating link between a person and the world surrounding him/her [7: 59].
W. Humboldt`s concept received a peculiar interpretation in A.A. Potebnya`s work «A Thought and Language», in Sh. Balli, Zh. Vandriyez, I.A. Baudouin de Courtene, R.O. Jacobson works and other researchers.
In the hypothesis of linguistic relativity of Sapir-Whorf (American ethnolinguists) the following basic principles are allocated: 1. Language causes a method of thinking of the people speaking on it. 2. The method of knowledge of the real world depends on what language the learning subjects think. «We dismember the nature in the direction prompted by our language. We mark out in the world of the phenomena these or those categories and types not because they are axiomatic, on the contrary, the world appears as the kaleidoscope flow of impressions which shall be organized by our consciousness and it means generally by the language system which is stored in our consciousness. We dismember the world and organize it in concepts and we distribute values so, but not differently, generally because we are agreement parties, ordering similar systematization. This agreement is valid for a certain language collective and is fixed in the system of models of the language» [10, p. 174].
This hypothesis got support and further development in L. Weisgerber's works, in his concept of language as the «intermediate world» standing between the objective reality and consciousness. The scholar considered that language works in all areas of spiritual life as a creating force.
Speaking about a ratio of national culture, personality and language one should start from the book of E.M. Vereshchagin and V.G. Kostomarov «Language and culture»: «A person isn`t born either Russian, or German, or Japanese, etc., and becomes as such in the result of stay in the corresponding national community of people. A child is educated through the impact of the national culture which carriers are surrounding people» [11, p. 25].
However, essential role in the education of a personality is played by the language inseparably linked with the culture. The known aphorism of the Soviet psychologist B.G. Ananyev given by E.M. Vereshchagin and V.G. Kostomarov: «a personality is a product of culture», S.G. Ter-Minasova specifies: «a personality is a product of language and culture» [12, p. 135]. A baby from the first minute of the birth plunges into the sounds of the native language which acquaints it with the world around, imposing «that picture which had been «drawn» before and without the child. At the same time through the language a person gains an impression about the world and the society which member it has become, about the culture, that is about the rules of the community, about a value system, morals, behavior, etc.» [12, p. 135].
Let us consider national character and stereotypes from the point of view of a ratio of national culture, personality and language. What is their influence on the forming of a language picture of the world of a specific ethnos? There are various terms designating originality and peculiar features of specific people: national spirit, national consciousness, ethnic identity, ethnic representation (N.A. Erofeyev), psychological temper of the nation (S.M. Arutyunyan), etc. However, «national character» remains the most widespread term. S.M. Arutyunyan speaks about the existence of «a psychological temper of the nation», determining it as «a peculiar national colour of feelings and emotions, views and actions, steady and national lines of the habits and traditions which are created under the influence of the conditions of material life, features of historical development of this nation and shown in the specifics of its national culture» [13, p. 23].
Though the term «national character» is not accepted by all the scholars, most of them admit, that there exist some inherent codes of behaviour and mentality specific of the particular nation, for instance, S.G. Ter-Minasova [12, p. 12] or English anthropologist and Co-Director of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford and a Fellow of the Institute for Cultural Research Kate Fox in her outstanding work «Watching the English»: «The object was to identify the commonalities in rules governing English behaviour – the unofficial codes of conduct that cut across class, age, sex, region, subcultures and other social boundaries. For example, Women’s Institute members and leather-clad bikers may seem, on the surface, to have very little in common, but by looking beyond the «ethnographic dazzle» of superficial differences, I found that Women’s Institute members and bikers, and other groups, all behave in accordance with the same unwritten rules – rules that define our national identity and character. I would also maintain, with George Orwell, that this identity ‘is continuous, it stretches into the future and the past, there is something in it that persists, as in a living creature» .
I.A. Sternin parts the concepts «national character» and «mentality» considering that they cannot be mixed. According to I. A. Sternin and his school, mentality characterizes not only the nation in general, but also various social groups of people. In this regard mentality is defined by him as «specific way of perception and understanding of reality determined by the set of the cognitive stereotypes of consciousness characteristic of a certain group of people» [14, p. 24-26]. Group mentality is specific perception of reality by certain social, age, professional, gender groups of people. Mentality is connected with the viewpoints of a personality, his/her apperception mechanisms.
Except group, there is a national mentality – the national way of perception and understanding of reality determined by a set of cognitive stereotypes of the nation. For example, an American seeing a rich person thinks: rich means clever, a Russian in this case usually thinks rich means a thief. The concept new is perceived by an American as the best, by a Russian as not checked.
Thus, the national mentality represents a national way of perception and understanding of reality on the basis of the stereotypes which are present at national consciousness, mental clichés, schemes of explanations of the phenomena and events, mechanisms of causal attribution. These are consciousness stereotypes. According to I.A. Sternin, national character is psychological stereotypes of behaviour of the people. Social, physical and communicative behaviour are defined both by mentality and national character, but mentality, undoubtedly, plays the leading role in it [14, p. 23-25].
The most popular source of stereotypic ideas of national characters are the so-called international jokes, that is the jokes constructed on a sample plot: representatives of different nationalities, having got into the same situation, react to it differently, according to those lines of their national character which are attributed to them in the homeland of a joke. So, in the Russian international jokes the British usually are excessively punctual, laconic, pragmatic, reserved, love cigars, whisky, equestrian sport, etc. The Germans are practical, disciplined, organized, crazy about an order and, therefore, are limited. The French are thoughtless idlers, epicureans, thinking only of women, wine and gastronomic pleasures. The Americans are rich, generous, self-confident, pragmatic, are famous for good expensive cars. The Russians are unpretentious, alcoholics, fighters, open, crude, love vodka and fights. In the Russian international jokes, all of them behave according to these stereotypes.
S.G. Ter-Minasova  gives such a joke: how people of different nationalities behave if they find a fly in a glass of beer. A German (practical) throws out a fly and drinks beer. A Frenchman (sentimental) pulls out a fly, blows on it, straightens her wings — and doesn`t drink beer. A Russian (unpretentious and liking to drink) drinks beer, without having noticed a fly. An American (confident in his rights) calls the waiter, makes a scandal and asks for another mug. A Chinese (Chinese cuisine includes the most unexpected dishes) takes out a fly, drinks beer and has a snack on a fly. A Jew (mercantile) drinks beer and sells a fly to the Chinese.
Interregional Center of Communicative Researches of the Voronezh University carried out the analysis of the English communicative behaviour. The description of communicative behaviour reflects:
1. Really observed realization of these stereotypes by many carriers of this communicative culture.
2. Really observed realization of these stereotypes in many situations of communication.
3. Bigger or smaller awareness of these stereotypes by native speakers in the conditions of a reflection or the verifying poll.
4. Detection of these stereotypes in cross-cultural communication in the form of communicative shock or communicative difficulties [14, p. 20].
A language picture of the world is formed, first of all, at the lexical level by means of set expressions, phraseological units, idioms, proverbs, sayings, jokes, etc. Now I am passing to the results of my research and list here the main communicative and relevant features of the English mentality and national character which promote the formation of the English language picture of the world.
1. Moderation, restraint (social dis-ease, English reserve)
English show moderation and restraint in behaviour and in public life, they are not inclined to extremes. Kate Fox calls social dis-ease the core of Englishness.
«The English social dis-ease is a congenital disorder, bordering on a sort of sub-clinical combination of autism and agoraphobia (the politically correct euphemism would be ‘socially challenged’). It is our lack of ease, discomfort and incompetence in the field (minefield) of social interaction; our embarrassment, insularity, awkwardness, perverse obliqueness, emotional constipation, fear of intimacy and general inability to engage in a normal and straightforward fashion with other human beings. When we feel uncomfortable in social situations (that is, most of the time) we either become over-polite, buttoned up and awkwardly restrained or loud, loutish, crude, violent and generally obnoxious. Both our famous ‘English reserve’ and our infamous ‘English hooliganism’ are symptoms of this social dis-ease, as is our obsession with privacy. Some of us are more severely afflicted than others. The dis-ease is treatable (temporary alleviation/remission can be achieved using props and facilitators – games, pubs, clubs, weather-speak, cyberspace, pets, etc. – and/or ritual, alcohol, magic words and other medications), and we enjoy periods of ‘natural’ remission in private and among intimates, but it is never entirely curable. Most peculiarities of English behaviour are traceable, either directly or indirectly, to this unfortunate affliction» .
Key phrases include: ‘An Englishman’s home is his castle’; ‘Nice day, isn’t it?’; ‘Oi - what you looking at?’; ‘Mind your own business’; ‘I don’t like to pry, but . . .’; ‘Don’t make a fuss/scene’; ‘Don’t draw attention to yourself’; ‘Keep yourself to yourself’; ‘’Ere we go, ’ere we go’; ‘Enger-land! Enger-land! Enger-land».
Reserve of the English people is implemented in the following sayings and proverbs: Silence is gold(en). – Brevity is the soul of wit. – First think; then speak. – A word to the wise. – Still waters run deep.
A. Vezhbitskaya notes that in English there are very few intransitive emotional verbs – worry, grieve, rejoice, pine and some more. «This reflects an important feature of Anglo-Saxon culture – culture which looks at the behaviour estimated as «emotional» without special approval, with suspicion and confusion» [5, p. 339].
Especially it is necessary to stop on exclamatory sentences. Moderation and restraint of British, in particular, are shown in the lack of exclamatory sentences, especially in formal and business styles (Dear Mr. Smith, Dear Sir/Madam).
2. Conservatism in public life
British note that they think of the past better, than of the future. British «trust innovations with difficulty, patiently standing many temporary delusions; deeply and forever are sure of greatness, which is in the Law and in the Customs once solemnly established and long since recognized for fair and final» (Karleyl  1994, p. 252). British are obliged to English conservatism by the difficult, dispersing from the pronunciation spelling, left-hand traffic, furious protection of a pound against entering of euro and maintenance of the numerous traditions. Preserving the monarchy and general love to royal family is also a tribute to the English conservatism. Admirers of old times, ancient traditions and habitual tenor of life, they don't hurry to refuse the monarchy and institutes and customs accompanying it. British like to repeat: Don't change horses in the middle of the stream. - An old dog will learn no new tricks. - You can't teach old dogs new tricks. - An old dog barks not in vain.
3. Abiding to the law
British are exclusively law-abiding, researchers note that the respect for the law is a source of national pride of British. Unlike the Russian drivers, for example, the English drivers will surely stop on the crossing and will get a pedestrian go even if there is no police officer who can fine nearby.
4. Fair play
«Fair play» is a national priority, a part of the code of the gentleman – in all situations an Englishman shall behave fairly. Unlike Americans for whom the most important is victory, for British the most important is the fair behavior in a game. The most fair play in England is a cricket and the phrase of «It's not a cricket» is considered an expression of disapproval of a dishonest behavior. «Fair play, with its sporting overtones, suggests that everyone should be given an equal chance, that no-one should have an unfair advantage or handicap, and that people should conduct themselves honourably, observe the rules and not cheat or shirk their responsibilities. At the same time, «fair play» allows for differences in ability and accepts that there will be winners and losers – while maintaining that playing well and fairly is more important than winning» .
The following proverbs confirm this English national principle: Honesty is the best policy. - A clean hand wants no washing. - A clear conscience laughs at false accusations.
Kate Fox calls «fair play» national quasi-religious obsession. «Our acute sense of fairness is often mistaken for other things – including both socialism and conservatism, and even Christianity. Much of English morality is essentially about fair play» .
Key phrases: ‘Well, to be fair . . .’; ‘In all fairness . . .’; ‘Given a fair chance’; ‘Come on, it’s only fair’; ‘Fair’s fair’; ‘Fair enough’; ‘Firm but fair’; ‘Fair and square’; ‘Wait your turn’; ‘Take turns’; ‘Be fair’; ‘Fair cop’; ‘That’s not cricket/not on/out of order!’; ‘Level playing-field’; ‘Don’t be greedy’; ‘Live and let live’; ‘On the other hand’; ‘There’s always two sides’; ‘On balance’; ‘Let’s just agree to disagree, shall we?’» .
5. Politeness (demonstration of rules of conduct), manners
British are polite and affable everywhere. In a shop or office they patiently wait when they are noticed. It is not accepted to draw attention of a service personnel to oneself and it is useless if at this moment they serve another client. But, as soon as your queue has approached, you will be served exactly so much time as it is necessary. Moreover, one can speak to the seller about the weather and other things, and nobody from the queue will show either the slightest irritation, or impatience.
British tell thanks not only in response to the service, but also in many other communicative situations: a passenger says to the controller Thank you in response when returns the checked ticket. A cashier will tell Thank you, responding to your gratitude for the note which was exchanged to you.
Many researchers note that the English politeness and courtesy aren't sincere, proceeding from the heart. It is only a form, external manifestation of manners, statutory rules of behavior to which each Englishman submits. «English courtesy seems to be almost entirely a matter of form, of obedience to a set of rules rather than expression of genuine concern» .
Kate Fox claims that the English courtesy is the symptom of the same restraint, exclusivity and distancing of the British connected with the unwillingness of anybody`s invasion to the sphere of «ego». «Although our reserve is certainly a symptom of our social dis-ease, it is also, at least in part, a form of courtesy – the kind sociolinguists call ‘negative politeness’, which is concerned with other people’s need not to be intruded or imposed upon (as opposed to ‘positive politeness’, which is concerned with their need for inclusion and social approval)» .
British are very tolerant, and are inclined to compromises. They perfectly understand that existence of different opinions on the same question – is in the nature of things, another opinion is not a crime. They do not, as a rule, do remarks to the surrounding people, even if their behavior creates big inconveniences. If a remark is, nevertheless, done, it will sound in a very soft form (Excuse me, I think you‘re standing on my foot – in a subway train), and frequently in the form of a request (Could you please stop talking? – to the schoolmates during the lesson).
It should be noted that anthropologist Kate Fox does not mention this property in the cited work of hers. Tolerance is slightly referred to when speaking about moderation as a national quality. «Our tolerance… tends to be at least partly a matter of benign indifference» . It should be noted that there is certainly less blatant tolerance of bribery, corruption and cheating in England than in most other countries.
7. Respect for property
British have a respect for other person`s property, which is a compulsory provision of a decent behaviour in the society. It is impossible to criticize property of another person. For example, in England it is not accepted to laugh at the deceived husbands, because they suffered in what belongs to them.
8. Individualism, non-interference in the others` affairs, observance of «privacy»
Privacy is that zone of personal autonomy in which the entrance to strangers is prohibited. The importance of this fragment of a language picture of the world is reflected in many English proverbs:
An Englishman’s house is his castle. - Good fences make good neighbours. - Love your neighbour, yet pull not down your fence. - He travels the fastest who travels alone. - Come seldom, come welcome. - It is easy to keep a castle that was never assaulted. - Better a castle of bones than of stones [17: 253].
It should be noted that individualism and respect for property are very closely connected in the English language culture (issues 7-8), and, evidently, do not exist separately. That is why the proverbs given here can be equally referred to number 7.
Distancing and mitigation of impact on the interlocutor drop a hint of doubt in a possibility of the commission of the action (I’d love to have you for dinner on Sunday, but I imagine you have other plans), distance the addressee from the action (Your car has to be moved up), etc.
10. Feeling of the English superiority
The English have a brightly expressed feeling of the English superiority. English, in their opinion, means the best. The English name «continental breakfast» which has become currently used by many people is associated with not English, that is not really qualitative, not «such as it is necessary». The feeling of the English superiority is shown also in the indulgent attitude of British to the foreigners and their belief that foreigners are to know English.
11. Pragmatism and rationalism
The English are very pragmatic. It is usually noted that their pragmatism is a consequence of their historical development as «the most bourgeois nation». They are prudent, they do what is necessary and try not to do anything superfluous. The English are obliged to their pragmatism and rationalism by rather small losses in World War II. Both the foreign policy of Great Britain, and work of its intelligence agencies is pragmatic.
At the level of grammar the structures actualising rationality and a causation connected with human will are widespread in English:
X made Y wash the dishes.
X had her boots mended.
X got Y furious [5: 369].
In other words, these structures reflect a priority of human mind and will in the English mentality over something irrational, inaccessible for a person. In comparison, we will note that irrationality which grammatical marker is impersonal sentences is peculiar to the Russian mentality: Его переехало трамваем. Его знобило/ лихорадило/ мутило. (He was run by a tram. He was shivering / was in a fever / stirred up). One should pay attention that translation gives only the general sense, but not the Russian structures.
If a comparison is made in the usage of concepts душа/soul/mind, the result shows prevalence of the concept mind in the English language that undoubtedly is a sign of rationalism, while the Russian language demonstrates the dominant concept душа:
душевноеспокойствие / peace of mind
душевнобольной / mentally-ill person
каменьсваливаетсясдуши/load (weight) off one's mind
The mind is the man. - It is the riches of the mind only that make a man rich and happy.
«The English are rightly renowned for their hypocrisy. This is an omnipresent trait, insidiously infecting almost all of our behaviour – and even the ‘ideals’ we most prize, such as modesty, courtesy and fair play… You could say that most of our politeness/modesty/fairness is hypocritical, but also that most of our hypocrisy is a form of politeness – concealment of real opinions and feelings to avoid causing offence or embarrassment. English hypocrisy seems to be mainly a matter of unconscious, collective self-deception – collusion in an unspoken agreement to delude ourselves – rather than a deliberate, cynical, calculated attempt to deceive others» .
Key phrases: too numerous to list – English conversation is littered with polite euphemisms and other disguises, deceptions and denials – on average, at least every other ‘please’, ‘thank-you’, ‘sorry’, ‘nice’, ‘lovely’ (plus smiles, nods, etc.) is hypocritical.
13. Humour, irony, understatement
«Probably the most important of our three basic reflexes. Humour is our most effective built-in antidote to our social disease... Virtually all English conversations and social interactions involve at least some degree of banter, teasing, irony, wit, mockery, wordplay, satire, understatement, humorous self-deprecation, sarcasm, pomposity-pricking or just silliness. Humour is not a special, separate kind of talk: it is our ‘default mode’; it is like breathing; we cannot function without it. English humour is a reflex, a knee-jerk response, particularly when we are feeling uncomfortable or awkward: when in doubt, joke» .
Key phrases: ‘Oh, come off it!’ (Our national catchphrase, along with ‘Typical!’) Others impossible to list – English humour is all in the context, e.g. understatement: ‘Not bad’ (meaning outstandingly brilliant); ‘A bit of a nuisance’ (meaning disastrous, traumatic, horrible); ‘Not very friendly’ (meaning abominably cruel); ‘I may be some time’ (meaning ‘I’m going to die’ – although, come to think of it, that one was possibly not intended to be funny).
14. Exaggerated estimation
Exaggeration in English shows that positive assessment can be strengthened by means of the use of intensifiers and repetitions: What do you think of these photos? – They are absolutely marvelous. / You’ve done a great job. She is a smashing kid (to the parents about their child). / Your daughter is a genius. She is absolutely fantastic (a teacher to the parents). / That was a lovely dinner. You really are a superb cook (a guest to the host). [14, p.150]
15. Love for freedom, freedom of opinions, tastes and behaviour:
Love for freedom, freedom of opinions, tastes and behaviour can be demonstrated in the following proverbs: It takes all sorts to make a world. – Variety is the spice of life. – Tastes differ. – Every man to his taste. – There is no accounting for tastes. – One man’s meat is another man’s poison. – Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
16. Avoiding imperative forms
Inadmissibility of the impact on the addressee, respect for his/her communicative inviolability defines English communication as indirect (not straightforward), not categorical, subjective.
These features are characteristic, first of all, of incentive speech acts (command, request, invitation, advice, offer). They are also used for expressing opinion, that is in all those situations where the interests of the addressee are infringed and there is a threat of invasion into the zone of his/her personal autonomy.
The English avoid the use of imperative forms in different situations of communication (see Larina 2003). Can I see your passport? (on a passport control) / Could you please come to my office for a moment? (a chief – to a subordinate) / Would you mind repeating that, please? (a teacher – to a pupil). [14, p. 146]
17. Attitude to money, the rich and the poor
It was found out that attitude to money in the English society is rather respectful: Money makes money. – Money talks. – Money makes the man. – Money makes the mare go [14: 135].
The English think that the poor are left by God: God help the rich, the poor can look after themselves. - God help the rich man, let the poor man beg. - Children are poor men's riches.
Some proverbs detect the viewpoint of the English people on different aspects of life: He who lives according to nature will never be poor, and he who lives according to opinion will never be rich. - A penny saved is a penny gained.
In times of prosperity friends will be plenty, in times of adversity, not one in twenty. - Poverty is no vice, but an inconvenience.
Some English proverbs (4 out of 34 analyzed on the topic) demonstrate negative attitude to money and wealth: Money is the root of all evil. - Better wit than wealth. - Sell not virtue to purchase wealth. - An abundance of money ruins youth .
In general, the English culture belongs to individualist type.
A. Vezhbitskaya offers the following examples to demonstrate the differences in Russian (non-agentiveness) and English (agentiveness) languages:
A) He succeeded.
B) Ему это удалось.
Ему это не удалось.
The English nominative construction (a) shifts a part of responsibility for success or failure of some enterprise onto the person who starts it while the Russian dative construction (b) completely exempts the subject from any liability for the end result. Thus, the conclusion is drawn that in the English culture there is a more responsible attitude to business than in the Russian culture. I consider that it is possible to mention a response phrase commonly spread now in the Russian language (especially in the students` environment): Такполучилось. (It has turned out so). This phrase is usually used in a situation, if, for example, a teacher asks a student why he /she did not attend classes.
Now let us move on to the main communicative and relevant features of the Russian mentality and Russian national character which contribute to the formation of the Russian language picture of the world.
1. Generosity, hospitality
Hospitality and generosity of the Russian people is reflected in the Russian proverbs as in a mirror: «Первому гостю первое место и первая ложка» - To the first guest the first place and the first spoon; «Красному гостю честь да место» - To the handsome guest honour and place; «Садись, так гость будешь», - Sit down, so the guest you will be; «Гостю почёт, хозяину честь» - To the guest honor, to the host honour. - «Без обеда не красна беседа» - Without lunch the conversation isn`t good, «Красна река берегами, а обед пирогами» - A river is decorated with banks, and a lunch with the pies; «Чем богат, тем и рад» - what you are rich with, to that I am glad.
Russians pay special attention to good neighbourhood: «Худое дело обидеть соседа». – Bad business is to offend the neighbour. - «Жить в соседах – быть в беседах». - To live near the neighbour means to be in a conversation. - «Близкий сосед лучше дальней родни». - The close neighbour is better than distant relatives. - «Межи да грани – ссоры да брани». - Boundaries and limits are a quarrel and abuse.
The Russian hospitality is well-known and does not depend on the degree of wealth: «Хоть не богат, а гостям рад». - Though I am not rich, but glad to the guests. The best treat for the guest is always ready: «Коли есть, что в печи, все на стол мечи!» - If there is something in the furnace, everything on a table. - «Гостю щей не жалей, а погуще налей». – Do not spare Russian cabbage soup to the guest, and pour more densely.
2. Love of freedom
Russian proverbs demonstrate great love for freedom: «Хоть тяжелая доля, да все своя воля». - Though a heavy share, but my will for everything. - «Своя воля дороже всего». - My own will is the dearest. - «Вольность всего дороже». - The liberty is the dearest. - «Воля птичке дороже золотой клетки». - The will to a birdie is dearer than a gold cage. - «Что хочу, то и ворочу». – What I want, this I do. - «Своя рука владыка». - My hand is my lord.
Turning to the Russian history, one can make sure that even serfdom has not turned a Russian peasant into a spiritual slave. Great Russian poet A.S. Pushkin told how he, going in a stagecoach from Moscow to St. Petersburg, talked to an Englishman. «I have asked him a question what can be more unfortunate than a Russian peasant. The Englishman answered: «An English peasant». Pushkin was surprised: «Ah! A free Englishman, in your opinion, is more unfortunate than a Russian serf? Do you really consider a Russian peasant free?» The Englishman told: «Look at him: what can be freer than his treatment of you? Is there a shadow of slave humiliation in his gait and speech?» .
3. Religiousness, irrationality
One of the deep features of the Russian character is religiousness. The religious outlook has played an important role in the formation of both the nation in general, and the Russian personality, in particular. This characteristic deep feature of Russian national personality has been reflected since the most ancient times in the Russian folklore, in proverbs: «Жить – Богу служить». - To live is to serve God. - Сильна Божья рука. – God`s hand is strong. «Божья рука – владыка». God`s hand is a lord. «Никто не может, так Бог поможет» - Nobody can help, so God will help. - «С Богом пойдешь, до блага дойдешь». – If you go with God, you will reach good. These proverbs say that God is almighty and helps believers in everything, God is the perfection ideal, He is merciful, loving, kind, unselfish and wise: «У Бога милости много» - God has much favour. «Бог на милость не убог». - God isn`t poor on favour. «Друг о друге, а Бог обо всех». - We are about each other, but God is about everybody. «Кто добро творит, тому Бог отплатит». - Who does good, God will pay back. God is generous, He is glad to accept any person who addresses Him, His love is immeasurably big: «Кто к Богу, к тому и Бог». - Who is to God, to that is God. «Любящих и Бог любит» God loves those who love God. - «Бог полюбит, так не погубит». – If God will love, so He won`t ruin.
From 34 phraseological units with the word душа 15 are translated into English by the word heart and only four by the word soul. Soul and душа coincide in translation generally in terms of personal value (ни души — not a soul). The Russian phraseological units with the word душа are widely common, especially in informal conversation, while many combinations to the word soul have a dung «outdated» or «rare» in English .
Earlier it was noted that irrationality which grammatical marker is impersonal sentences is peculiar to the Russian mentality: Его переехало трамваем. Его знобило/ лихорадило/ мутило. «The impersonal form of verbs passes through the language and makes one of most characteristic features of the Russian way of thinking» [Zharintseva, 1916]. (See number 11).
4. Aspiration to the truth and justice
The Russian sense of justice was oriented to the life on the principles of conscience, but not on the formal rules or laws. Truth in Russian isn`t a formal concept in the western sense which can be always turned out, but an absolute concept and measure of good and conscience, the Absolute Truth which isn't limited to a certain person or people. The Russian people say: «Не в силе Бог, а в правде». - God is not in force, but in the truth. «Без веры Господь не избавит, без правды Господь не исправит». - Without faith the Lord won`t save, without the truth the Lord won`t correct. «Всякая неправда — грех». - Any lie is a sin. «Бог тому даст, кто правдой живет». - God will give to that who lives according to the truth. - «Кто правды ищет, того Бог сыщет». - Who looks for the truth, God will find that. «Оправь Бог правого, выдай виноватого»! – God, justify the innocent, issue the guilty!
5. Humility to destiny and authorities
A. Vezhbitskaya notes a tendency to passivity and fatalism as one of the main features of the Russian national character. «Судьба is a key concept of the Russian culture. It doesn't have an equivalent neither in English nor in the English culture … In cудьба the hint is on what a person can expect something bad rather than good, but at the same time this word represents human life as incomprehensible (and at the same time not subject to the control) than as senseless and inevitably tragic» [ 5, p. 426, 429].
«Где быть беде, там ее не миновать». - Where trouble is to happen, one cannot avoid it. «Чему быть, того не миновать». - What must be, one cannot avoid it. «Кому служу, тому и волю творю». - To whom I serve, to that I submit my will. «Бей челом ниже: до неба высоко, до лица земли ближе». - Ask humbly below: to the sky it is high, to the face of land it is closer. «Побьют – не воз навьют». – To be beaten is not to be loaded up.
According to the researches of the Russian national character conducted in Harward, Russians are people «expressive and emotionally live», they are distinguished by the «general effusiveness», «ease in expression of feelings» «impulsiveness» [5, p. 332].
Russian is exclusively rich with «active» emotional verbs, most of them are not translated into English at all: любоваться, восхищаться, ликовать, волноваться, беспокоиться, огорчаться, радоваться, тосковать, скучать, грустить, хандрить, унывать, гордиться, ужасаться, стыдиться, злиться, гневаться, тревожиться, etc.. Activity of these verbs is demonstrated in the ability to enter direct speech (in the form of perfective aspect): «Маша здесь?» – удивился Иван. - Is Masha here? - Ivan was surprised.
The Russian culture refers verbal expression of emotions to one of the main functions of the human speech, meanwhile Anglo-Saxon culture disapproves of unconstrained verbal stream of feelings: Pigs grunt about everything and nothing. First think, then speak.
The concept of родина arouses a lot of emotion in Russians. Bruce Monk, one of the authors of a school textbook «Happy English», shared his thoughts and said that the concept of родина in Russia is feminine, «you regard it as your mother (родина-мать, родина-матушка,). We have a different attitude to our country. We would never dream of calling it «motherland». Your people feel nostalgic during three-week Oxford summer courses of English. I lived in Russia away from my country for 9 years and I did not feel nostalgic. We are on different terms with our country» [12, p.177].
Russians «are distinguished with the passionate desire to become members of some collective, they are distinguished by the feeling of collectivism, and also warmth and expressional emotionality of human relationship» [C. 332]. See point 1
«Один за всех, все за одного». - One for all and all for one.
«На миру и смерть красна, а в раю жить тошно одному». - Company in distress makes trouble less, and one feels sick to live in paradise alone.
«Один в поле не воин». - One man is no man (fighter).
«Одинокое дерево ветер валит». - Wind brings down a lonely tree.
«Одна ласточка не делает весны». - One swallow doesn’t bring spring.
In these proverbs one person, one tree, one hand, can`t do anything, but a group of people united by the common idea, aspiration and desire is able to do almost everything.
8. Patience and firmness
It is, perhaps, one of the characteristics of the Russian people which has become literally legendary. Russians have, apparently, boundless patience, surprising ability to stand difficulties, deprivations and sufferings. In the Russian culture patience and ability to endure sufferings is ability to existence, ability to answer challenges, it is a moral basis of a personality.
One can find reflection of this feature in the Russian proverbs and sayings:
“Терпение – лучше спасенья” - Patience is better than rescue.
“Терпение даст умение”. - Patience will give ability.
“Час терпеть, а век жить”. - To suffer an hour, and to live a century.
“Поживи в рабах, авось, будешь и в господах”. - Live in slaves, perhaps, you will be also in misters.
“Бог даст день, даст и пищу”. - God will give a day, He will also give food".
9. Mistrustful relation to laws
Historically and according to the objective state of things, most Russians do not trust the laws, because they are violated very often and mostly by authorities.
«Закон – что дышло: куда захочешь, туда и воротишь». - A law is like a rod: where you will want, there you will turn.
«Что мне законы, коли судьи знакомы». - What are laws to me, if judges are my acquaintances.
«Не будь закона, не стало б и греха». – If there was no law, there would be no sin also.
Instead of justice in the judicial sense there always lived in Russian people and has not died up to now a thirst for live truth and fairness expressed, for example, by the proverb: «Though all laws would be gone, if only people lived with the truth».
10. Russian maximalism
The Russian maximalism in the extreme form is expressed in A.K. Tolstoy`s poem (translation is mine – L. Kozlova):
Коль любить, так без рассудку,
Коль ругнуть, так сгоряча,
Коли спорить, так уж смело,
If to love, then mindlessly,
If to threaten, so outright,
If to scold, then in a temper,
If to chop, so bluntly!
If to argue, then bravely,
If to punish, then for good reason,
If to forgive, so with all the heart,
If a feast, so a lavish feast!
As N.O. Lossky notes, the aspiration to absolutely perfect kingdom of life and at the same time excessive keenness on any defects of personal and other people`s activities is peculiar to a Russian person.
That is why there is often a chilling to the affair begun and disgust for its continuation; the plan and its general sketch is often very valuable, but its incompleteness and, therefore, inevitable imperfections push away a Russian person, and s/he is lazy to continue finishing the trifles. Thus, Oblomovism is in many cases the back side of high properties of a Russian person – aspiration to complete perfection and keenness to the shortcomings of our reality. Thus, it is clear that Oblomovism is widespread in all layers of the Russian society. Of course, most of people need to work to have means for the life and a family. Oblomovism is expressed in this forced, unloved labour that such Oblomov performs so-so, carelessly, only trying to get rid of it.
Partial Oblomovism is expressed in the Russian negligence, inaccuracy, untidiness, being late on meetings, in theaters, on appointments. Richly gifted Russian people are quite often limited only to an original plan, without bringing it to implementation .
11. Relation to money, wealth and poverty
Russian people firmly consider that «от трудов своих сыт будешь, а богат не будешь» (from your work you will be full, and won`t be rich), and the fact that «от трудов праведных и не наживешь палат каменных» (working fairly you won`t earn stone chambers). National consciousness still indulgently concerns to poor people, sympathizes with them:
«Бедность- святое дело». - Poverty is a sacred business.
«Бедность учит, а счастье портит». - Poverty teaches and happiness spoils.
«Бедность - не порок». - Poverty is not a defect.
Russians often connect wealth with sins.
«Богатому черти деньги куют». – A devil forges money to the rich.
«Пусти душу в ад — будешь богат». - Start your soul in the hell — you will be rich.
«Грехов много, да и денег вволю». – There are a lot of sins and money in plenty.
«У кого деньги (богатство) вижу — души не вижу». - At whom I see money (wealth) — I don`t see a soul.
«Когда деньги говорят, тогда правда молчит». - When money speaks, then the truth is silent.
«Деньгами души не выкупишь». - You won't redeem your soul by money.
«Богатый совести не купит, а свою погубляет». – The rich won`t buy conscience, and ruins his.
12. National modesty, self-criticism and self-condemnation
«National modesty, self-criticism and a self-condemnation make an undoubted feature of the Russian national mentality. There are no people which to such an extent would like to abuse themselves, to expose themselves, to laugh at themselves. Remember Gogol and Dostoyevsky» . «Ability to be released for a while from the soil to look at oneself more soberly and more impartially, is already in itself a sign of the greatest feature … In a Russian person, the fullest ability of the most sensible critics over himself is seen, the most sober on himself a look and lack of any self-eminence harming the freedom of action» (F.M. Dostoyevsky) .
13. Valuable relation to people and to objects
Russians have a highly valuable attitude not only towards people, but also to all objects, in general. It is expressed in abundance of diminutive, magnifying, pejorative names. Impersonal names can get a caressing, diminutive, pejorative form, e.g.: дом – домик, домище, домина, домишко...
Diminutives expressing tenderness are especially widespread and various. Personal names, derived with different suffixes, can express different feelings: Иван – Ваня, Ваничка, Ванюша; Мария – Маня, Маша, Маничка, Машенька, Машутка. Ivan – Vanya, Vanichka, Vanyusha; Maria – Masha, Manichka, Mashenka, Mashutka.
14. Existence of opposite principles
Freedom of spirit, search of the Absolute Good and, in this regard, a test of values lead to the fact that the Russian people have no strictly developed, ingrained life forms. The most various and even opposite properties and ways of behaviour exist in the Russian life. Berdyaev expressively emphasized this feature of the Russian people. «Two opposite beginnings, – he says, – have formed the basis of the formation of the Russian soul: natural, pagan Dionise elements and ascetically monastic Orthodoxy. It is possible to open opposite properties in the Russian people: despotism, hypertrophy of the state and anarchism, liberty; cruelty, tendency to violence and kindness, humanity, softness; belief in rites and search of the truth; individualism, aggravated consciousness of a personality and impersonal collectivism; nationalism, bragging and universalism, universal humanity; eschatologically messianic religiousness and outer piety; search of God and militant godlessness; humility and impudence; slavery and revolt» .
15. Categoricalness, direct expression of motivation
Russian communicators prefer direct expression of motivation. Imperative statements are preferable in incentive speech acts. The strategy of mitigation of influence are used by Russians in much smaller degree than by the English. Russian communicators, on the contrary, can strengthen the motivation (Будьтедобры, повторитевашвопрос - Be so kind as to repeat your question. / Обязательноприходите. - You are come for sure./ Выдолжнынепременнобыть. - You have to be by all means. / Отказынепринимаются. - Refusals aren't accepted) that is absolutely inadmissible in the English communication.
The conclusion is the following:
1. Russian culture belongs to the collectivist type of culture. This feature is reflected in the Russian language by means of set expressions, phraseological units, proverbs, sayings. The Russian people highly appreciate interpersonal relations. The Russians differ from the English by their openness, hospitality, religiousness, striving for Truth and Absolute Good, irrationalism, being (very) emotional, rather categoric, straightforward and direct, tolerant (in the religious meaning), rather self-critical, loyal and interested at foreigners and foreign languages, inclined to fatalism, submissive to superiors, incredulous to human laws. The Russian national character and mentality unites opposing things (extremes): love of freedom and despotism, kindness and inclination to violence, striving for Truth and love for ritualism, religiousness and formal piousness, seeking for God and aggressive irreligion, humbleness and arrogance.
2. English culture belongs to the individualist type of culture. The core of Englishness is a social dis-ease, which gives rise to other most English traits of national character – being reserved, overpolite, individualistic, not categoric and hypocritical, pragmatic, distant from other people, using humour, irony and understatement. The English are very proud of their nation, feel superior to the other nations and neglect them, they observe «fair play», value privacy, freedom and human laws. Unlike Russians, they estimate money to a very high degree and are very rational.
3. Comparing language pictures of the two nations, some common phenomena have been found – love for freedom, love for fairness (truth), tolerance and politeness. Nevertheless, as our study shows, even these are very different in their core. English courtesy seems to be almost entirely a matter of obedience to a set of rules rather than expression of genuine concern. Russian people not seem to be polite, but are polite, expressing genuine concern. That does not mean, of course, that there are no impolite people. English reserve is a form of courtesy – the kind sociolinguists call «negative politeness», which is concerned with other people’s need not to be intruded or imposed upon.
English acute sense of fairness is often mistaken for other things – including both socialism and conservatism, and even Christianity. Much of English morality is essentially about fair play. Russians strive for Absolute Truth and Absolute Good. The criteria by which the judgements are made very often refer to Orthodox or other existing religions` regulations or morality rules. Most of the statements are ethical and estimated positively or negatively.
One could say that most of English politeness/modesty/fairness is hypocritical, but also that most of this hypocrisy is a form of politeness – concealment of real opinions and feelings to avoid causing offence or embarrassment. Russian politeness/modesty/fairness has nothing to do with hypocrisy (as a rule). It`s about «wearing hearts on their sleeves».
English tolerance has also come out of a social dis-ease and individualism, inclination to compromise. English tolerance tends to be at least partly a matter of benign indifference. Russian tolerance (terpeniye) has another origin – religious, which means that one should stand all hardships, pain, unpleasant things and situations: God suffered and adjured us to endure everything.
As a result, two comparative tables were made which can be of possible use to the teachers and scholars in various fields concerning ethnic studies and cross-cultural communication. I admit that the analysis done does not cover all the properties of the two nations, but it does reveal
It should be mentioned that according to the analyzed properties of the English and Russian national character and mentality, the contrasted language pictures of the world reveal more differences than commonalities. That is why people (and politicians, in particular) dealing with cross-cultural communication between England and Russia require much training and very careful and inclusive attitude to each other to make our common world more friendly.
Relevant communicative properties of English and Russian mentality and national character
Relevant communicative properties of English
mentality and national character
Relevant communicative properties of Russian mentality and national character
1. Politeness (demonstration of rules of conduct)
1. Politeness (observance of rules of conduct
3. Communicative insincerity
3. Communicative sincerity
5. Mistrustful relation to laws
6. "Fair play"
6. Aspiration to the truth and justice
7. Respect for property
7. Valuable relation to people and to objects
8. Individualism, non-interference to others`affairs, observance of "privacy"
9. Distancing, dis-ease in communication
9. Tendency to inclusion, importance of interpersonal relationship
10. Feeling of the English superiority
10. National modesty, self-criticism and self-condemnation
11. Pragmatism and rationalism
11. Lack of a pragmatism, irrationalism
12. Tolerance and firmness of character
13. Freedom of views, tastes and behavior
14. More positive relation to money
14. More negative relation to money, sympathising with the poor and disrespectful attitude to the rich
15. Tendency more to a praise, than to a criticism
15. Tendency more to a criticism, than to a praise
16. Lack of interest in other people and countries
16. Interest in other people and countries
17. Love of freedom
17. Love of freedom, maximalism
18. Sense of humour, irony, underestimation
18. Sense of humour, ability to laugh at themselves
Dominant features of English and Russian communicative behaviour
Dominant features of English
Dominant features of Russian
Moderation, emotional restraint
Low loudness of communication
Higher loudness of communication
Rigid thematic regulation of communication
Lack of a rigid thematic regulation of communication
Priority of phatic communication
Priority of informative communication
Communicative impozitivnost, direct expression of motivation
The relation to a language as to an important indicator of the social status of the speaker
Dislike for studying and use of foreign languages
Loyalty to foreigners and aspiration to learn foreign languages