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The article attempts to identify the stereotypic idea of widespread domestic animals (a tomcat and a cat) on the material of similes of Russian and Swedish languages that characterize humans. The objective of the study is to identify the dominant characteristics of the “tom-cat” and “cat” in the Russian language picture of the world, which serve to assess a person, against the Swedish background. The sources of the material were dictionaries of Russian similes, the Swedish Phraseological Dictionary, data of the Russian National Corpus and the Swedish National Corpus. The main methods used in the study are methods of complete and directed material sampling, lexicographical, contextual and comparative analysis. This is an ideographic classification of Russian idioms, which allows to reveal comparison signs relevant for the Russian language picture of the world. The article identifies the dominant comparison bases in each group, indicating the importance of the corresponding attribute for native speakers. It analyzes gender distinctions in the use of Russian phraseological units with the “tom-cat” and “cat” reference standards, and peculiarities of using Russian similes in fiction contexts. A contrastive analysis is carried out with Swedish comparative phraseologisms with the standard “en katt”. The novelty of the study is to identify similar and different characteristics that allow to make a “portrait” description of domestic animals that serve as standards of similes, to identify relevant features for Russian and Swedish language pictures of the world. The study vector is directed from the standards of similes to their bases. As a result of the study, conclusions are drawn about the greater nominative density of idioms with “tom-cat / cat” components in Russian compared to Swedish, differences in gender relatedness due to the lack of generic differentiation of the Swedish standard of comparison, despite the fact that in Russian the replacement of the component “tom-cat” by “cat” leads to a change in the meaning of the phraseological unit, more detailed stereotypical representations in the Russian language particularly in such ideographic groups of similes as characteristics of appearance and behavior and to a greater peyorativity of Russian phraseological units compared to Swedish ones. The identified equivalent units in two languages, as well as the presence of the same ideographic groups of similes are due to the centuries-old observation of the peoples-speakers of languages for the universal features of the appearance and behavior of animals.

About the authors

Alexey S. Alyoshin

The Bonch-Bruevich Saint-Petersburg State University of Telecommunications

Author for correspondence.
SPIN-code: 4983-8447

Ph.D. in Philology, Associate Professor, Chair, Department of Foreign Languages, Faculty of Humanities, Federal State Budget-Financed Educational Institution of Higher Education “The Bonch-Bruevich Saint Petersburg State University of Telecommunications”.

22, bld. 1, prospect Bolshevikov, Saint Petersburg, Russia, 193232

Elena I. Zinovyeva

Saint Petersburg State University

SPIN-code: 9059-2243

Doctor of Philology, Professor, Department of Russian as a Foreign Language and Methodology of its Teaching, Federal State Budget-Financed Educational Institution of Higher Education “Saint Petersburg State University”.

11, University Embankment, Saint Petersburg, Russia, 199034


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Copyright (c) 2019 Alyoshin A.S., Zinovyeva E.I.

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