Vol 25, No 1 (2021)


Semantics in the time of coronavirus: “Virus”, “bacteria”, “germs”, “disease” and related concepts

Goddard C., Wierzbicka A.


This study proposes Natural Semantic Metalanguage semantic explications for the English words ‘virus’ (in two senses), ‘bacteria’, ‘germs’, and for the related words ‘sick’, ‘ill’, and ‘disease’. We concentrate on their “naïve” or “folk” meanings (Apresjan 1992) in everyday English, as opposed to scientific or semi-scientific meanings. In this way, the paper makes a start on uncovering the folk epidemiology embedded in the English lexicon. The semantics of words like ‘virus’, ‘bacteria’ and ‘germs’ is not, however, a purely academic matter. It is also a matter of effective health education and health communication. To reach people at a time of an epidemic, explanations need to connect with “ordinary people’s” ways of thinking and speaking. This paper argues that the simple and cross-translatable words of NSM, and minimal languages based on it, can be effective tools not only for linguistic semantics but also for education and communication everywhere - at the local school and in the world at large.

Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(1):7-23
pages 7-23 views

COVID-19 trending neologisms and word formation processes in English

Al-Salman S., Haider A.S.


The surge of new words and phrases accompanying the sudden COVID-19 outbreak has created new lexical and sociolinguistic changes that have become part of our lives. The emergence of COVID-19’s coinages has remarkably increased to establish a trending base of global neologisms. The present study attempts to investigate the nature of the new English words and expressions that emerged in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. It also identifies the type of word-formation processes that contributed to the emergence of these neologisms in the English language. The researchers compiled a corpus of 208 COVID-19-inspired neologisms from different sources, including social networking websites, search engines, blogs, and news articles. The analysis revealed that word-formation processes were so varied to cover all possible forms of derivation, including affixation, compounding, blending, clipping, acronyms, among others, along with dual word-formation processes, with compounding and blending being the most discrete. The findings showed that the flux of new terms demonstrates the creativity and vitality of the English language to respond to emerging situations in times of crisis. The study recommends that further research be carried out on the new terms that have been transferred to other languages as loanwords, loan-translations and loan-blends.

Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(1):24-42
pages 24-42 views

Translating deictic motion verbs among Bulgarian, Croatian, and Serbian: A corpus-based study

Nedelcheva S., Šarić L.


This article deals with translating South Slavic deictic verbs. Specifically, we consider translations among Bulgarian, Croatian, and Serbian. Deictic verbs are verbs whose interpretation is dependent on the location of speech-act participants (Fillmore 1997), such as come and go. In research on Slavic, certain motion verbs’ prefixes have been discussed as “deictic prefixes” (see Grenoble 1991, Filipović 2009, Łozińska 2018). Particular emphasis in this analysis is on the prefixed motion verbs dojda/doći, idvam/dolaziti, otida/otići, and otivam/odlaziti found in Bulgarian, Croatian, and Serbian literary texts and their translations. We present a brief quantitative overview and conduct a qualitative study of deixis-related meanings, paying necessary attention to other non-deictic meanings. Special attention is given to the constructional interplay of various deictic elements that co-occur with deictic verbs. Since we deal with literary texts and not everyday interaction, we consider the genre and context and apply the notion of viewpoint, which also covers the mental viewpoint adopted by the narrator, in addition to the “deictic” viewpoint of one of the speech participants. In the study, we observed shifts in point-of-view from deictic to non-deictic construal and vice versa, and from dynamic to static construal. These phenomena relate to the fact that in a text with a third person narrator, there is no innate deictic centre, while in casual conversation, the interlocutors create the deictic centre. The results show a preference for using come when motion towards a protagonist is described in a neutral context.

Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(1):43-67
pages 43-67 views

“Can we take a picture with you?” The realization of the refusal speech act with tourists by Emirati speakers

Deveci T., Midraj J.


Effective communication between people from different cultures requires not only the ability to speak a common language but also an awareness of sociocultural rules and sociolinguistics features, an important one being speech acts the realization of which realization by Emirati non-native speakers of English has not been studied sufficiently. This paper investigates a particularly face-threatening speech act - refusals. It explores Emiratis’ comfort level and the use of the refusal speech act in communicative exchanges with unknown tourists. The data set consisted of 94 participant responses to a pre-instructional activity in an introductory linguistics class. Both descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyze the data sets. The key findings suggest that both male and female participants were rather comfortable conversing with a tourist couple that they had never met, but male participants reported being more at ease accepting the couple’s request to take a photo with the tourists at a statistically significant level. While more than half of the participants reported willingness to take the photo with the tourists, approximately 41.5% would decline such a request, with significantly more females declining the request. The most frequent components of the refusal speech act included a statement of regret, a thank-you note, and an excuse, reason, or explanation. Results also showed that linguistic devices for positive politeness purposes were used rather sparingly, and it was mainly the females who used them. Based on the results, it is helpful for visitors to the UAE to be mindful of Emiratis' sociocultural and sociolinguistic behaviors so that the nuances of communication can be understood and responses are appropriate, which can reduce the likelihood of communication breakdowns and increase the well-being of all involved in the interaction.

Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(1):68-88
pages 68-88 views

Metapragmatics and genre: Connecting the strands

Molodychenko E.N., Spitzmüller J.


Genre analysis involves at least a ‘foray’ into the social/contextual dimension framing genre-exemplars. One way to explore this dimension is drawing on the concept of metapragmatics, which is primarily associated with (American) linguistic anthropology. However, with a few exceptions, genre studies have not consistently operationalized metapragmatics, either theoretically or practically. The purpose of this article is, therefore, to explore one possible angle of such operationalization by means of studying discourse fragments reflecting on fragments of (these very or other) discourses (so-called metapragmatic discourses) vis-à-vis any generic properties of the reflected discourse. Specifically, we analyzed comments sections for a number of YouTube videos exemplifying several lifestyle genres. The results indicate that generic references can range from simply using a generic label to refer to the discourse in question (as a token of a certain type/genre) to actually discussing the generic characteristics of the genre it instantiates, as well as projecting certain (generic) metapragmatic stances. Another observation is that different wordings used by the discourse community to refer to generic models can be, as it were, ‘proper’ generic labels, but they can also be words and phrases that would hardly qualify as proper names of genres from an analyst’s point of view. Both these ‘proper’ and other - ‘genre-like’ - labels are also often used in conjunction with or are replaced by other ways of metapragmatically referring to what the speaker ‘does’ or even what they ‘are’ in/by dint of using the discourse in question. This suggests that any generic labels or cues are just part of a large pool of other possible metapragmatic meanings, knowledge, and ideologies circulating in discourse communities. More broadly, the results may indicate that genre studies should see genre as an even less ‘stabilized’ entity because what a genre is depends on what people who actually use it ‘make of it’, as well as augment their standard toolkits with methods aimed at exploring metapragmatic discourse.

Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(1):89-104
pages 89-104 views

Implicit vs explicit evaluation: How English-speaking Twitter users discuss migration problems

Gabrielova E.V., Maksimenko O.I.


The current research answers the question how Twitter users express their evaluation of topical social problems (explicitly or implicitly) and what linguistic means they use, being restricted by the allowed length of the message. The article explores how Twitter users communicate with each other and exchange ideas on social issues of great importance, express their feelings using a number of linguistic means, while being limited by a fixed number of characters, and form solidarity, being geographically distant from each other. The research is focused on the linguistic tools employed by Twitter users in order to express their personal attitude. The subject chosen for study was the migration processes in Europe and the USA. The aim of the current investigation is to determine the correlation between the attitudes of English-speaking users towards migration and the way they are expressed implicitly or explicitly. The authors make an attempt to define which tools contribute to the implicit or explicit nature of the utterances. The material includes 100 tweets of English-speaking users collected from February 1 to July 31, 2017. The choice of the time period is defined by significant events in Trump’s migration policy and their consequences. The research is based on the content analysis of the material carried out by means of the Atlas.ti program. The software performs the coding of textual units, counts the frequency of codes and their correlation. The results of the research show that Twitter users tend to express their critical attitudes towards migration, rather than approve of it or sympathise with migrants. Criticism is more often expressed implicitly rather than explicitly. In order to disguise the attitude and feelings, the English-speaking users of Twitter employed irony, questions and quotations, while the explicit expression of attitudes was done by means of imperative structures. It is also worth mentioning that ellipses, contractions and abbreviations were used quite frequently due to the word limit of tweets. At the same time, the lack of knowledge about extralinguistic factors and personal characteristics of users makes the process of interpretation of tweets rather challenging. The findings of the current research suggest the necessity to take into account implicit negative attitudes while carrying out the analysis of public opinion on Twitter.

Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(1):105-124
pages 105-124 views

Kinship terms as indicators of identity and social reality: A case study of Syrian Arabic and Hindi

Suryanarayan N., Khalil A.


By displaying a certain fragment of reality in the linguistic consciousness of a person, socio-cognitive categories convey important information about the social structure of society, the lingua-cultural identity of its representatives and the values they share. This study focuses on kinship terms in the Syrian Arabic and Hindi languages. It is aimed at identifying similarity and the cultural specificity of kinship terms in two linguistic cultures and explaining the identified features through types of cultures and cultural values. The research is based on kinship terms that name consanguineal (blood) and affinal (non-blood) relatives in Arabic and Hindi. The material was collected through analysis of terms in dictionaries as well as anonymous questionnaires and observation. The collected material was systematized and analyzed using comparative, definitional, semantic and lingua-cultural methods. The results showed that both languages have a rich system of kinship terms, in which the line of kinship (paternal or maternal), the type of kinship (relatives by blood or through marriage), and age are recorded. They testify to the We-identity of the representatives of the cultures under consideration for whom family relations are of great value, and to the importance of determining the place of each member in society in the social system. The revealed features showed that age differences are more important in Indian society than in Syrian, although respect for elders is one of the most important values of both cultures. The results obtained once again confirm the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to the analysis of language, which in turn provides new data for other areas of humanities.

Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(1):125-146
pages 125-146 views

Linguistic creativity and discourse profiles of English language children’s novels

Kiose M.I.


Contemporary discourse studies face the necessity to develop the methods of contrastive sub-discourse analysis which apply numeric and comparable data to diversify and describe sub-discourse types. The aim of the research is to propose a method of discourse profiling serving the purpose, and to further test the method in the contrastive study of linguistic creativity in different types of English language children’s novels. The category of linguistic creativity being the leading form of language poesis receives parametric description on all language representation levels (in written form) and provides the discourse values for contrastive analysis. These values are explored in the fragments of non-autobiographic and autobiographic adventure novel sub-discourse types authored by J.C. George, F. Gibson, J.D. Ullman, and G. Durrell (a total amount of 120.000 signs) annotated manually for 52 linguistic creativity parameters on phonological, morphological, word-formation, lexical, syntactic, and graphic levels. The working hypothesis is that the linguistic creativity parametric activity distributions represent the sub-discourse profiles and may serve to contrast sub-discourse types by means of their vectors’ contingency values. The analysis in individual parameter activity and in parameter groups activity demonstrated significant variance in sub-discourse construal, with autobiographic sub-discourse of G. Durrell manifesting several higher activity values in word-formation (occasional compounding), lexical use (the use of professional language, lexical tropes, allusive names, higher register style) and syntactic use (the use of parallel structures and syntactic intensifiers). In terms of morphological activity, the parameter values tend to be lower (morphological category shifts), the same stands true of some syntactic (the use of elliptical structures) and lexical parameters (the use of lower register types and proper names). The sub-discourse profiles demonstrate several common features, evidently typical of the discourse type itself, and the features differentiating non-autobiographic and autobiographic discourse subtypes. Vector correlation analysis revealed lower correlation values for autobiographic sub-discourse, which proves its specificity and testifies to the discourse profiling method applicability.

Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(1):147-164
pages 147-164 views

Lexico-semantic relativity and versatility in translation and intercultural communication

Kabakchi V.V., Proshina Z.G.


The aim of the article is to discuss translation regularities in correlations of words that denote culture-related phenomena that exist in many cultures or that are specific to certain cultures and languages. The focus is on Russian and English culturonyms. The authors dwell on the principle of functional dualism that claims that language can equally address internal and external cultures. This principle is developed in the new linguistic discipline termed “interlinguoculturology” (Kabakchi 1998, Kabakchi & Beloglazova 2020). Nonetheless, under the impact of the World Englishes paradigm, the article points to blurring the concept of “external culture” - Russian bilinguals, speaking or writing in Russian English, use this variety for expressing their own culture; the same is true for other world Englishes that have branched from the prototypical British English model. Despite the polemical relations of the two research schools, which are close and yet different in some of their tenets, there is much in common in their semantic and pragmatic research of how varieties of English adapt and domesticate culturonyms, in particular binary words belonging to two languages and often associated with each other in translation. The paper discusses examples of binary polyonyms (“universal” culturonyms) whose meaning depends on the context of the situation and, therefore, is differently received in diverse cultures; binary analogues whose equivalent selection is based on scrutinizing the dictionary entry and on the knowledge of the cultural background, and binary interonyms that partly help translators and partly interfere with their work, being deceptive cognates differing in their referential or connotational meanings. The article concludes that the interpretation of culture-bound words in foreign-culture-oriented texts depends on various pragmatic and semantic processes and is grounded in a word semantic flexibility and its matter-of-course adaptation in a cultural and language environment.

Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(1):165-193
pages 165-193 views

The dynamics of political correctness, inclusive language and freedom of speech

Leontovich O.A.


The study aims to research the historical dynamics of the notions ‘political correctness’, ‘inclusive language’ and ‘freedom of speech’, as well as to reveal the mechanisms and new tendencies of their realization in public discourse. The sources of practical material are represented by: a) 126 journal and Internet articles; b) 12 speeches of famous US and British politicians, scholars and celebrities reflecting the notions under study. The leading methods include critical discourse analysis, definition and contextual analyses. The research indicates that during its long and contradictory history, the term ‘political correctness’ had both positive and negative connotations. When the negative attitude started to prevail, it was replaced by the notions ‘inclusion’ and ‘inclusive language’ based on similar mechanisms: ban on the use of offensive terms denoting different aspects of people’s identity; avoidance of stereotypes and false semantic associations; abundant use of euphemisms, etc. The paper reveals the new trends in the English language (non-binary expression of gender; changes in the conceptualization of race, age and disability) and social practices meeting the requirements of inclusive communication. Whereas political correctness and inclusive language aim to protect vulnerable social groups and improve the social climate, they produce certain undesirable tendencies: breach between social groups caused by inefficient communication; reverse racism; complex relationship of political correctness with science, literature and education; its speculative use; and restrictions on freedom of speech. The study also sheds light on the problems of politically correct intercultural communication caused by the non-stop language change, differences in social norms, values, grammatical structures, semantics, and cultural associations.

Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(1):194-220
pages 194-220 views

Immediate recall as a secondary text: Referential parameters, pragmatics and propositions

Petrova A.A., Solnyshkina M.I.


Since the process of recalling combines comprehension and speech production, it is viewed as an extremely complex though understudied linguo-cognitive phenomenon. Recalls as secondary texts or text derivatives are also considered to be a good material to explore cognitive aspects of secondary texts production, information conversion procedures and types of transformations of primary texts. The notion of ‘secondary texts’ also implies multiplicity, as an original text may be retranslated into numerous secondary texts different in quality and degree of completeness. The purpose of the study is to model the propositional secondary retold texts and to identify the specifics of the recipients’ interpretation of the main event in the text. It is aimed at discriminating the differences between the primary expository text and its 134 immediate recalls produced by 15-year old native Russian speakers. In order to reveal the specifics of the propositional content of a primary expository text and its recalls, their recipients used the following methodological operations: the description and interpretation of the semantic roles of the first and second arguments aligned to predicates on the basis of the verbs’ semantic properties; the employment of the psycholinguistic model of the utterances generation; the characteristic of memory as a complex of cognitive and mnemic processes; the definition of cognitive-semantic discourse structures; and the understanding of a proposition as a stable component of an utterance independent of the surface grammar. The comparison of the original text and its recalls with the use of innovative “denotative maps” enabled us to define successful and unsuccessful expression of propositional structures and the main idea of the original text. The classification of texts includes four groups based on the number of the reproduced propositions and types (weak or successful) of the reflection of the primary text denotative card. The authors designed and successfully implemented an innovative 11 stage-algorithm of revealing patterns of a printed text comprehension and its immediate recalls including the primary visual perception of the text, its primary interpretation, reading, encoding, reflection, preparation for an oral presentation, desobjectivation (distribution of semantic roles), interpretation, reflection, oral implementation and text. The work fills in certain gaps in the research, such as the specifics of immediate recalls production, identification of changes in propositional structures of immediate recalls, and expanding the corpus of semantic roles similar to Frame Net. The findings can be successfully applied in natural language processing and linguistic didactics.

Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(1):221-249
pages 221-249 views

The use of metaphor power indices for the analysis of speech impact in political public speeches

Sun Y., Kalinin O.I., Ignatenko A.V.


The article examines the metaphor power related to the impact of public political speeches on the audience. The purpose of the study is to identify the potentially hidden speech impact of public discourse in order to understand the intentions of the speech messages’ authors. To that end, the aspects of metaphors under analysis include their density in the text, their intensity, functions and positions in the compositional structure of the text. The study tests the method of comprehensive analysis of metaphor power, which is based on the calculation of the corresponding indices MDI (Metaphor density index), MII (Metaphor intensity index), MfTI (Metaphor functional typology index) and MStI (Metaphor structural index). Each index is based on a mathematical formula: MDI reflects the average number of metaphors per a hundred words of the text; MII demonstrates the medium intensity of metaphors (new or conventional metaphors dominating the text); MfTI shows which functions are mainly performed by metaphors in the text; MStI represents the compositional parts of the text where the metaphors are concentrated. The hypothesis about the possibility of using such quantitative methods is tested on the material of three texts of public speeches by the political leaders of Russia, USA and China. The analysis shows that the greatest speech impact is achieved by the speech of the President of China distinguished by the highest metaphor density (4.07), and, the values of MfTI (2.23) MStI (2.51) indicate the intention to restructure the socio-political concepts, as well as to introduce a new content into his country’s domestic and foreign policy. This method for identifying the metaphor power can be used to investigate the potential impact of political speeches and can become an important tool for analyzing various aspects of the metaphor use in discourse.

Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(1):250-277
pages 250-277 views


Review of Boris Norman. 2020. Language categories in the consciousness and creativity of the Russian poet. Berlin: Peter Lang. ISBN 978-3-631-81797-1

Patroeva N.V.



Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(1):278-283
pages 278-283 views

Review of Chudinov A.P., Budaev E.V., Solopova O.A. 2020. Political Metaphorology: A Discursive Turn. Moscow: Flinta. 234 p. ISBN 978-5-9765-4326-3

Karasik V.I.



Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(1):284-290
pages 284-290 views

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