Vol 25, No 2 (2021): QS Subject Focus Summit 2020 on Modern Languages and Linguistics


QS Subject Focus Summit 2020 on Modern Languages and Linguistics: Languages and migration in a globalized world

Ebzeeva Y.N.


This article summarizes some of the results of the first QS Subject Focus Summit on Linguistics and Modern Languages held jointly with the RUDN University on December 15-17, 2020. It provides rationale for the choice of venue of this linguistic forum and analyzes the most relevant topics of discussion, including interdisciplinarity in modern linguistic research, comparative studies of languages and cultures, and intercultural and cross-cultural communication. Participants explored the topics as diverse as the role of linguistics in developing artificial intelligence systems and application of artificial intelligence in linguistic research, the dynamics of languages in minority situations and the efforts in preserving endangered languages. They dwelt on the current state of translation studies and discussed prospects for their future in view of advances in computer technologies, and many others. The articles included in this issue and authored by the Summit participants clearly show that language has become an object of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary studies. Moreover, the interdisciplinary research paradigm is manifested not only in the convergence of linguistics with other areas of humanities, but also with sciences. This article provides a brief overview of the contributions which present major paradigms of modern linguistics. It highlights the importance of applying computer technologies in linguistic research and emphasizes the necessity to modify language policies in order to preserve minority languages and meet the needs of language education in a multilingual and multicultural environment.

Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(2):299-316
pages 299-316 views

“Semantic Primitives”, fifty years later

Wierzbicka A.


Are there any concepts that all human beings share? Three hundred years ago Leibniz was convinced that there are indeed such concepts and that they can be identified by trial and error. He called this hypothetical set “the alphabet of human thoughts”. Gradually, however, the idea faded from philosophical discourse and eventually it was largely forgotten. It was revived in the early 1960s by the Polish linguist Andrzej Bogusławski. A few years later it was taken up in my own work and in 1972 in my book “Semantic Primitives” a first hypothetical set of “universal semantic primitives” was actually proposed. It included 14 elements. Following my emigration to Australia more and more linguists joined the testing of the proposed set against an increasing range of languages and domains. As a result, from mid 1980s the set steadily grew. The expansion stopped in 2014, when the number stabilised at 65, and when Cliff Goddard and I reached the conclusion that this is the full set. This paper reviews the developments which have taken place over the last 50 years. It reaffirms our belief that we have identified, in full, the shared “alphabet of human thoughts”. It also examines the recurring claim that one of these primes, HAVE PARTS, is not universal. Further, the paper argues that there is not only a shared “alphabet of human thoughts” but a shared mental language, “Basic Human”, with a specifiable vocabulary and grammar. It points out that the stakes are high, because what is at issue is not only “the psychic unity of humankind” (Boas 1911) but also the possibility of a “universal human community of communication” (Apel 1972). The paper contends that “Basic Human” can provide a secure basis for a non-Anglocentric global discourse about questions that concern us all, such as global ethics, the earth and its future, and the health and well-being of all people on earth.

Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(2):317-342
pages 317-342 views

Comparing languages and cultures: Parametrization of analytic criteria

Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk B.


The focus of the paper is to present arguments in favour of a complex set of areas of reference in cross-linguistic analyses of meanings, aimed in particular at the identification of a set of relevant analytic criteria to perform such a comparison. The arguments are based on lexicographic and corpus linguistic data and specifically on the polysemic concept of integrity in English and its lexical counterparts in Polish. It is generally assumed in Cognitive Linguistics, which is taken as the basic framework of the present study, that meanings, which are defined as convention-based conceptualizations, are not discrete entities, fully determined, even in fuller context but rather they are dynamic conventional conceptualizations[13]. Therefore, it is considered essential to identify first their basic, prototypical senses and then their broad meanings , which include, apart from the core part, their contextual, culture-specific, and connotational properties, defined in terms of a parametrized set of semasiological as well as onomasiological properties. The study methodology has also been adjusted towards this multifocused analysis of linguistic forms and considers the interdisciplinary - linguistic, psychological, cultural and social domains to identify the cultural conceptualizations of the analysed forms. In the present case a cognitive corpus-based analysis in monolinguistic English contexts and in the English-to-Polish and Polish-to-English translation data of lexicographic and parallel corpus materials, as well as cultural dimensions will be exemplified to conclude with a parametrized system of cognitive cross-linguistic tertia comparationis to more fully determine their broad linguistic meanings.

Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(2):343-368
pages 343-368 views

A multidimensional model of interaction as a framework for a phenomenon-driven approach to communication

Mustajoki A.


Interaction between people is a cornerstone of being human. Despite huge developments in languages and communicative skills, interaction often fails, which causes problems and costs in everyday life and work. An inability to conduct dialogue also produces conflicts between groups of people, states and religions. Therefore, there are good reasons to claim that miscommunication and failures in interaction are among the most serious problems in the world. Researchers from different fields - linguistics, sociology, anthropology, psychology, brain research, philosophy - have tried to tackle this complex phenomenon. Their method-driven approaches enrich our understanding of the features of interaction in many ways. However, what is lacking is an understanding of the very essence of interaction, which needs a more holistic, phenomenon-driven approach. The aim of this paper is to show that the only way to reach this goal is multidisciplinarity, that is, using the results and methods of different fields of research. This is not an easy goal and task because the way of thinking and doing research varies greatly discipline-wise. A further obstacle is the researchers’ training, which, as a rule, focuses on the tradition of only one field of research. The Multidimensional Model of Interaction provides a good framework for a more holistic approach to interaction by viewing the complex phenomenon from different angles. The model includes various phases of the process of interaction, beginning with the choice of the topic by the speaker and ending with identification of the reference by the recipient, as well as the mental worlds of the interlocutors (knowledge, attitudes, values, emotional state etc.), recipient design (accommodation of speech) and external circumstances.

Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(2):369-390
pages 369-390 views

“No” and “net” as response tokens in English and Russian business discourse: In search of a functional equivalence

Malyuga E.N., McCarthy M.


The literature on English suggests that turn-initial no fulfils a variety of discourse-pragmatic functions beyond its use as a negative response to polar questions. We cannot assume that the same range or distribution of functions is realised by its nearest Russian equivalent, net . Hence, investigating the contrasts and similarities in the nomenclature and distribution of functions of no and net should pose an important research problem for various discourses, and especially for business discourse with its focus on goal-orientation and productive interpersonal relations requiring adequate interlingual interaction. The study examines how no and net occur in two corpora of spoken business/professional discourse in order to establish their functional comparability and reveal the differences in their use. The article draws on data from the Cambridge and Nottingham Spoken Business English Corpus and the Russian National Corpus analysed using a combination of corpus linguistics, conversation analysis and discourse analytical approaches. Study results show some overlap between the functions of the response particles in English and Russian, and some differences. The findings suggest that no / net display a number of functions connected with conversational continuity, topic management, turn-taking and hedging. The distribution and functions of no/net in the English and Russian data are similar, with the Russian data showing a preference for floor-grabbing no -initiated turns. Translation equivalence is not always fully applicable between no and net . A mixed methodology generates results which suggest that fruitful insights can be gained from English and Russian corpus data. The issues of the use of no and нет in English and Russian business discourses can be further investigated using the suggested data and conclusions.

Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(2):391-416
pages 391-416 views

A cross-cultural study of condolence strategies in a computer-mediated social network

Alemi M., Pazoki Moakhar N., Rezanejad A.


Among the various speech acts, an under-investigated one is condolence speech act. The present study sought to investigate the verbal strategies of expressing condolence used by (1) Iranian native speakers of Persian, (2) Iranian EFL (English as a Foreign Language) learners, and (3) American native speakers of English. Accordingly, a total of 200, 42, and 50 responses were collected respectively from the informants who responded to an obituary post followed by a picture consisting of a situation related to the news of a celebrity’s death on Instagram (In the case of Iranians: Morteza Pashaii , a famous singer & in the case of Americans: B. B. King , an American singer-songwriter). After creating a pool of responses to the death announcements and through careful content analysis, the utterances by native Persian speakers, EFL learners, and native English speakers were coded into seven, nine, and seven categories, with expression of affection ( n = 109, 46.38%), wishes for the deceased ( n = 34, 59.64%), and wishes for the deceased ( n = 32, 23.70%) being the most prevalent ones, correspondingly. Moreover, tests of Chi-square revealed that there was a statistically significant difference among the three groups. The results showed that there were significant differences among the participants in terms of using condolence strategies in Expression of affection (love and grief), Wishes for the deceased, Expression of shock, use of address terms, expression of gratitude, Offering condolences, expression of happiness for his peaceful death, and Seeking absolution from God categories, with Expression of affection being the most prevalent one among Iranian Persian speakers. The findings have pedagogical implications for EFL teachers as wells as textbook and course designers.

Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(2):417-442
pages 417-442 views

Applied translation studies and transdisciplinary action research: Understanding, learning and transforming translation in professional contexts

Massey G.


Proceeding from accepted shared definitions of applied linguistics that stress its practical, real-world orientation and instrumentality, this article seeks to move the focus from the interdisciplinarity that has been identified as the nexus of translation studies in the past to how its applied branches should systematically engage with an emerging transdisciplinary research paradigm. It argues that the shift can and will be a key factor, challenge and opportunity in the onward development of applied translation studies as it seeks to adequately address the situated realities of professional translation. The article reveals how transdisciplinarity, operationalised as action research, offers a viable framework for investigating, understanding and learning about what translators really do in working contexts and settings, with a view to identifying issues, improving practices, processes and performance, and ultimately transforming the profession for the good of those it employs and serves. In doing so, it considers approaches from cognitive translatology, based largely on a 4EA cognitive paradigm, and translatorial linguistic ethnography, where researchers are gradually but progressively going out into the field to explore and describe the complex socio-cognitive, socio-technical activity of translation in situ. After presenting a use case from a large-scale research project on translation ergonomics at the author’s home institution, the article puts forward a model for transdisciplinary action research in professional settings to guide the necessary transition from interdisciplinarity to transdisciplinarity. Such a model would allow professional processes and practices to be investigated, and the findings productively and transformatively applied, in the situated socio-cognitive and socio-technical contexts of translators’ workplaces - within, for, with and by the organisations that employ them.

Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(2):443-461
pages 443-461 views

The changing face of contemporary translation studies through polydisciplinary lenses: Possibilities and caveats

Bednárová-Gibová K.


This paper offers a meta-reflection of contemporary translation studies (TS) through tracing its polydisciplinary tensions which are approached as both formative forces as well as hindrances. Taking a form of an argumentative essay employing the methods of a reflexive introspection, synthesis and evaluation, the principal aim is to address the potentials and controversies in present-day TS which are connected to its polydisciplinarity. This is a result from the aftermath of Snell-Hornby’s integrated approach (1988/1995), TS’s cultural and ideological turns as well as cognitive, sociological, anthropological, technological and economic twists. Four major strands of the consequences of the polydisciplinarity in TS are addressed: (a) the clash between the focus on the epistemological core of TS as an antidote to the expanding boundaries of the meta-discipline and embrace of reciprocal interdisciplinarity; (b) the tension between academia as ‘Ivory Tower’ and practice-minded language industry; (c) the diffusion of the outer boundaries of TS and erasure of its inner boundaries; (d) a multitude of different conceptualizations of TS foregrounding either the abstract or practical. Following TS’s inward orientations, two outward turns are suggested, i.e. promoting its relevance to other disciplines and reaching out to translation practice, in tune with Zwischenberger’s approach (2019). A continuation of the outward turns may be seen in Gentzler’s post-translation studies focusing on the study of pre-translation culture and after-effects of translation in the target culture. Although the paper does not tend to conceptual extremes, it suggests that authentic transdisciplinary TS should be mindful of a constructive and mutually enriching dialogue with donor disciplines and interlacement between theory and practice, with a focus on real-world issues, becomes imperative in order to make TS viable.

Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(2):462-477
pages 462-477 views

Inter-annotator agreement in spoken language annotation: Applying uα-family coefficients to discourse segmentation

Pons Bordería S., Pascual Aliaga E.


As databases make Corpus Linguistics a common tool for most linguists, corpus annotation becomes an increasingly important process. Corpus users do not need only raw data, but also annotated data, submitted to tagging or parsing processes through annotation protocols. One problem with corpus annotation lies in its reliability, that is, in the probability that its results can be replicable by independent researchers. Inter-annotation agreement (IAA) is the process which evaluates the probability that, applying the same protocol, different annotators reach similar results. To measure agreement, different statistical metrics are used. This study applies IAA for the first time to the Valencia Español Coloquial (Val.Es.Co.) discourse segmentation model, designed for segmenting and labelling spoken language into discourse units. Whereas most IAA studies merely label a set of in advance pre-defined units, this study applies IAA to the Val.Es.Co. protocol, which involves a more complex two-fold process: first, the speech continuum needs to be divided into units; second, the units have to be labelled. Kripendorff’s u α-family statistical metrics (Krippendorff et al. 2016) allow measuring IAA in both segmentation and labelling tasks. Three expert annotators segmented a spontaneous conversation into subacts, the minimal discursive unit of the Val.Es.Co. model, and labelled the resulting units according to a set of 10 subact categories. Kripendorff’s u α coefficients were applied in several rounds to elucidate whether the inclusion of a bigger number of categories and their distinction had an impact on the agreement results. The conclusions show high levels of IAA, especially in the annotation of procedural subact categories, where results reach coefficients over 0.8. This study validates the Val.Es.Co. model as an optimal method to fully analyze a conversation into pragmatically-based discourse units.

Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(2):478-506
pages 478-506 views

A Program for the Preservation and Revitalization of the Languages of Russia

Kibrik A.A.


This article presents the Program for the Preservation and Revitalization of the Languages of Russia proposed by the Institute of Linguistics, Russian Academy of Sciences (the Program). The Program is based on knowledge accumulated in linguistics in domains such as linguistic diversity, language endangerment, and language preservation methods. According to a recent assessment, there are 150 to 160 languages of Russia. This number of languages, even though quite high, is manageable for a national language preservation Program. Languages are rapidly becoming extinct worldwide, and Russia is no exception to this trend. The following terms are used to categorize languages according to risk of extinction: safe languages, endangered languages, severely endangered languages, and nearly extinct languages. There are several important humanitarian and scientific reasons for engaging in language preservation. The central idea of the Program is to boost intergenerational language transmission wherever feasible. Various approaches to different language situations are envisaged, including enlightenment campaigns, language nests, and language documentation. Three necessary conditions for language revitalization include engaging local activists, administrative and financial support, and the scientific validity of the methodology. The Program’s 12-year roadmap is split into three stages. There are a number of favorable factors making the Program feasible, as well as a number of potential obstacles. We have a historic opportunity to preserve languages spoken in Russia, and this is an opportunity that must be used.

Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(2):507-527
pages 507-527 views

Language education from a post-native-speakerist perspective: The case of English as an international language

Hino N.


Language education has traditionally been based on native-speakerism, which is defined in the present article, by simplifying Holliday’s original definition, as a belief in the authority or superiority of native speakers. With the prevalence of native-speakerism, it tends to be taken for granted that non-native speakers should strive to accommodate themselves to native speaker models. However, in today’s globalized world, such a conventional attitude is quickly becoming outdated. Above all, a most serious problem with native-speakerism is that it suppresses the freedom of thought and expression as fundamental human rights. Drawing on the case of English as an international language, this study aims to analyze the need for “post-native-speakerism” (a term attributed to Houghton and Hashimoto) in language teaching, or the need for relativizing native speaker norms for language learners. After illustrating major issues of native-speakerism, three theoretical paradigms for post-native-speakerism in global “Englishes” are presented, namely EIL (English as an International Language), WE (World Englishes), and ELF (English as a Lingua Franca), along with a prospect for integrating those different frameworks especially for pedagogical purposes. Then, educational objectives are summarized in terms of language skills, followed by the author’s own examples of teaching methodologies and actual classroom practices in higher education. Several key concepts for EIL education emerge from these pedagogical efforts, including authenticity and critical literacy. In view of the urge to embrace diversity in the world today, this paper argues that post-native-speakerism is of vital importance as it allows language users to express their true selves in global communication. While many of the discussions in the present article stem from linguacultural and educational situations in Japan, it is assumed that the insights should often be applicable also to other Expanding Circle, or EFL (English as a Foreign Language), countries such as Russia and China.

Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(2):528-545
pages 528-545 views

Teaching languages in multicultural surroundings: New tendencies

Yelenevskaya M., Protassova E.


The purpose of this article is to help language teachers at all levels of education to understand in depth problems posed by linguistic superdiversity. Based on the study of scholarly literature, documents of educational bodies and the authors’ experience in language teaching in different countries, the article answers the question of how the teaching of world languages such as English and Russian is changing due to the recognition that their functions and status differ in various countries. We explore why, despite gradual changes in curricula, there is still pervasiveness of pedagogies attempting to achieve a ‘perfect’ command of the studied languages, without considering students’ needs and language repertoires, the local sociolinguistic situation and labor market requirements. We focus on methods of teaching English and Russian, taking into account various aspects of language ideologies related to mono- and pluricentricity. To show the dependence of language teaching on the socio-cultural situation, we apply the concept of Critical Language Awareness covering aspects of language variation and changes in attitudes to normativity, prescriptivism and regional language varieties. We also show that innovative pedagogies put new demands on teachers requiring that they have to adjust to new teaching formats, acquire skills of using educational technologies and teaching diverse student populations. The focus of the review on teaching English and Russian proves that despite different histories of their pedagogies, the interplay of language, ethnicity, identity, culture and education systems is significant for both, and without taking all these elements into account, the goal of educating effective multilinguals is elusive.

Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(2):546-568
pages 546-568 views


Review of Lucia Abbamonte. 2018. Black Lives Matter. Newcastle, Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN 978-1527506572

Ponton D.M.



Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(2):569-574
pages 569-574 views

Review of Breeze, Ruth and Carmen Llamas Saíz (eds.). 2020. Metaphor in political conflict. Populism and discourse. Navarra: Ediciones Universidad de Navarra (EUNSA). ISBN 978-84-313-3467-3

Maíz-Arévalo C.



Russian Journal of Linguistics. 2021;25(2):575-580
pages 575-580 views

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