A Cognitive Linguistic Study of Comparative Set Phrases in Russian and Swedish

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This paper examines the linguistic-cognitive potential of comparative set phrases based on the material of two languages. The originality of the study lies in the consideration of two groups of phraseological units (fixed comparisons and paremias that explicitly or implicitly verbalize comparisons) and the identification of similarities and differences both between these groups in each language and individually between Russian and Swedish. The object of study was Russian and Swedish fixed comparisons characterizing a smart and stupid person, as well as comparative paremia, expressing the opposition ‘intelligencestupidity’. The aim of the study was to identify common and culturally conditioned mental attitudes and standards of comparison. The sources of material for study included dictionaries of Russian fixed comparisons, Vladimir Dal’s collection of proverbs, a phraseological dictionary of the Swedish language and dictionaries of Swedish proverbs. A thematic classification is offered of the standards of fixed comparisons with the bases ‘stupid’ and ‘smart’ in both languages. Structural models of the paremias of the thematic group ‘intelligence-stupidity’, expressing a comparison in both languages, are highlighted; mental attitudes verbalized by these units are described. The study found that the Russian language has a closer relationship between units within set comparisons and comparative paremias than in Swedish. In both languages, zoonyms are the predominant thematic group of standards. The differences include the presence in the Russian units of standards related to the household sphere and mythologems. Swedish comparative paremias are structurally different from Russian ones. While Russian paremias express the ideas that an excessively direct and simple person is stupid; a stupid person is like a child; and it is useless to teach a person stupid by nature, Swedish units offer a logical and philosophical comparison of intelligence and stupidity. The culture-specific components of Russian paremias include a large body of household vocabulary while words denoting old measures of weight serve the same function in Swedish.

About the authors

Alexey S. Alyoshin

The Bonch-Bruevich Saint-Petersburg State University of Telecommunications

Author for correspondence.
Email: alexis001@mail.ru
SPIN-code: 4983-8447

Candidate of Philology, Associate Professor, Head of the Department of Foreign Languages, Faculty of Humanities

prospect Bolshevikov, 22, bld. 1, St. Petersburg, Russian Federation, 193232

Elena I. Zinovieva

St. Petersburg State University

Email: e.i.zinovieva@spbu.ru
SPIN-code: 9059-2243

Doctor of Philology, Professor, Department of Russian as a Foreign Language and Methodology of its Teaching

11, University Embankment, St. Petersburg, Russian Federation, 199034


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Copyright (c) 2020 Alyoshin A.S., Zinovieva E.I.

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