Levels of Manifestation of Typological Similarity in Proverbs of Different Languages

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The relevance of this article is due to the contradiction between the typical position of linguoculturologists, who use proverbs in their studies to illustrate the idea of the national specific mental representations of the world, reflected in the language, on the one hand, and the undeniable similarity in the verbal, logical and semantic structures of the proverbs that we observe when comparing the proverbial material of completely different languages - related and not related: English, German, Russian, Czech, Bulgarian, Chinese, Turkish, Armenian, etc. The object of analysis is composed of proverbs as units by means of which the speakers express their attitude to the world in a figurative form and manifest themselves as carriers of a certain culture. This rapprochement is carried out in several directions. We note the undoubted similarity (1) in the field of thematic areas, chosen to state the results of observation and conclusions, which generalize the experience gained and derive pragmatic meaning from it; (2) at the level of proverbial condensates (mental constructs, ideas) that briefly convey the contents of the proverb - such as “A wife and a husband are different”, “A child inherits the properties of parents”, “A little bad thing spoils a big good”, etc.; (3) at the level of generalized concepts - the signs of them are especially actively reflected in proverbs: the image of gold in its various interpretations is universal - as a standard of a high degree of any characteristic, as a way of solving many life difficulties, etc.; (4) at the level of components that verbalize concepts, become sustainable elements of proverbs, can be opposed or compared. Binomial pairs form the logical and semantic structure of proverbs (“friend” - “alien”, “smart” - “stupid”, “head” - “legs”), move from one unit to another and some of them can have different verbal implementations (“predator” - “victim”: wolf - lamb/sheep/cow ). This analysis allows us to talk about coincidences not only in assessing the importance of individual objects and phenomena, in thoughts about them and associations, in the spectrum of identifiable signs, in verbalization techniques used for matching generalized ideas, and - at last - about a certain reduction in the pathos of the statement about the national specificity of the proverbial space of the particular language.

About the authors

Elena I. Seliverstova

Saint Petersburg State University

Author for correspondence.
Email: selena754@inbox.ru

Doctor of Philology, Professor, Professor and acting head of Russian Language Department for Humanitarian and Natural Faculties

University Embank., 7/9, St. Petersburg, Russian Federation, 199034


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