“Language Keys”: Foreign Cultural Lexicon in the Translingual (Russophonic) Literary Text

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The authors of the article consider the translingual (more broadly, transcultural) literary text as a “meeting place for languages and cultures”, which results in the formation of a new horizon for understanding aesthetic reality. Translingualism as the practice of artistic creation in a language that is not ethnically primary for the author implies the retranslation of ethnospecific images that are basic for the original linguistic culture through an intermediary language (in our case, Russian). Words with a national-cultural component of semantics that are not equivalent for the Russian language system cannot be attributed to borrowings, since a bilingual author produces, in the strict sense, the transfer (transfer) of a communicative-cognitive phenomenon from one language system to another. In this case, the incorporated elements perform a number of ontically significant functions, since they participate in the plot construction of a work of art, appeal to the archetypal substrate of an ethnos, carry a symbolic load and participate in the formation of a new - more complex - aesthetics. The authors comprehend the phenomenon of translinguism in the post-Soviet space and illustrate the mechanisms of functioning of foreign cultural elements of a Russophonic literary text based on the poem by A. Kodar “On this day that fell into paganism.”

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The borderlines of the modern world become more and more unsteady and fluctuating — in certain cases, they are smearing, in the other ones, they are exposed to extreme “flexibilization”, and finally, they are distinctly outlined while before they were just dotted. It concerns borderlines in various cases — starting with geopolitical and going to linguistic ones, from economic up to cultural situations. On the one hand, it’s determined by the gradual realization of the “global society project”, i.e., the globalization, which virtually started in the epoch of great geographic discoveries and, passing through a number of stages of formal and conceptual modifications is still under way nowadays. Some researchers are intent to assume that globalization is the final stage of the worldwide capitalization, or “westernization” (I. Wallerstain, M. Tlostanova). According to M. Tlostanova, the globalization is not formally identical to geopolitical expansion, as it assumes and preserves “sovereignties, national borders, governments” [1. P. 13], but at this, leveling down the leading role of “typical traditions and world images patterns”. “The local” can’t oppose “the global” just because of its own locality; and at the same time, each world ethnic culture has worked out the mechanisms of self-protection, intensive self-identification, active semiotic “bordering” (“frontierng”) of its own living space. Many researchers find the alternative of globalization in transculturation maintaining cross-cultural cooperation, empathy towards “the Others”, or “critical cosmopolitanism”.

As a natural result, the term “transculturation” is firstly used in the works by the anthropologist, and the philosopher of culture F. Ortiz who studied complex ethnic and socio-cultural processes in Cuba. The scholar’s epistemic dissatisfaction with the term “acculturation” which assumes the strategy of painless, euthanasic “embedding” of an individual or society into another (dominant) culture by means of the adaptation to it as an absolute, unquestioned “pattern”, made him put forward a new notion that is transculturation. In the opinion of F. Ortiz, transculturation is a sophisticated process of deprivation (partial or integral) of one’s own culture (deculturation) aligned with the creation of a new cultural phenomenon (neoculturation). The result of such interaction of cultures is not confined to their integration, “…the result of every union of cultures is similar to that of the reproductive process between individuals: an offspring always has something of both parents but it is always different from each of them” [2. P. 103].

Thus, each culture in course of interaction conserves its right to its own, individual authenticity, “non-transparency”. Z.G. Proshina, a well-known scholar place the emphasis of the world scientific community on the strict delimitation od such notions as transculturation (and trans-culture as its result), multi-culturalism and inter/cross-culturalism. As to the first case, we are dealing with the new quality of cultural space attained thanks to overcoming the insularity of ethnic traditions, linguistic values and value determinants. The second one declares the ethno-cultural specifics of an individual and elaboration of theories and practices to comprehend these specifics. As to the third case, we’re interested in strategies and tactics to overcome cultural barriers and provide successful communication between individuals representing various cultures [3. C. 6].

Transculturation doesn’t suppose the boundary merging among ethnics. On the contrary, in this case, boundaries and borders used to stay insoluble, though to some extent, they are penetrable. She draws a communicative bridge across cultural frontiers connecting by territory, ethnicity, and languages cultures which are separated from one another and thus provides transportation of various cultural elements from one space to another one. As the result of such two-forked, bilateral process, the cultural landscape of both areas is modified. (Latin prefix “trans-” chooses such sense components as “behind”, “counterpart”, “on the contrary side”, “across” and the like). Under the conditions of compositionally heterogeneous world society, transculturation is seen as one of the most productive strategies of ethno-cultural “self-conservation”.

M. Tlostanova properly emphasizes the fact that transculturation challenges monocultural nature of the “nation-state” construction appealing to the mythical idea of “pure cultural identity, without contaminating hybridization” [4. С. 134]. The diachronic axes of history affirm this thesis with many an argument. Ethnically homogeneous states existed neither in the Roman Empire epoch, nor during the massive migration of nations, nor during the renaissance period of extension of the cultural Oecumene and the “New World” discovery. Much less the homogeneity exists nowadays when in the world migration processes have intensified and the model of virtual society is successfully functioning covering any distances by means of the Internet. As Suresh Canagaraja remarks, “This ideology of language purity and autonomy contradicts to everyday practice when languages are in permanent contact and merge, giving birth to new grammars and meanings. In course of communication, people acquire whatever the need from various codes and semiotic resources without limiting themselves by the signs of a single language. Certainly, so far as the use in a definite area those various codes leave an imprint in grammars and use and make their own specificity” [5. С. 16].

In our opinion, postulating the modern world community to be transcultural in its essence, is justified. Transcultural trends in the society “counterbalance the unification” [4. С. 138].

We do not deny the fact that the elaboration and functioning of some “pure, or immanent cognitive conceptions and models are productive at certain heuristic stages. Thus, W. Humboldt’s statement of “Language is a national spirit” which at present acquired the status of the axiom, provided for the tectonic move in the paradigm of linguistic studies making a starting point of a new vector — the anthropocentric one. This statement is logically approved in case of:

A) There exists a nation distinguished by the homogeneity of its body (X);
B) There exists a language which during many centuries provided the life-sustaining activity of this nation (Y).

In such case, X and Y are in absolute cause-effect relationships: in course of its own existence, the ethnos acquires definite ethnic features-dominants, elaborates the norms of behavior, prescriptions (scripts), standing orders to distribute social roles, etc. Language fixes corresponding facts at the level of lexis and grammar, and later on translates the collected information from one generation to another one. Thus the definite way to assume the world outlook is consolidated already at the level of collective cognition which again and again is adapted in language. In this regard, language is really “the national spirit”, or “the house of existence”, if turn to M. Heidegger’s definition: “Studying languages of the world is also a worldwide history of thought and human feelings” [6]. But at this we have to doubt the ”purity” in itself of such an ethnic community and language as well, and the objective existence of the identical equation X=Y (i.e., the complete coincidence of ethnos and language). In the “Humboldtian” 19th century, such purity conventionally (and conventionally only!) conserved in some separately taken states or communities. Though in the majority of cases under the influence of extra-linguistic factors (e.g., the extension of Empire’s territorial borders by means of colonization of other countries) such identity appeared to be impossible.


A typical example of ethnos and language difference is the phenomenon of the Russian-speaking, firstly, in the territory of the Russian Empire, and later — in the Soviet and post-Soviet area.

In the 20s of the 20th century, there was formed a unitary cultural-and-historic area including Russia, Ukraine, Belorussia, Moldavia, the Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia), Transcaucasia (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia), Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan) and Middle Asia (Tajikistan, Turkmenia, Uzbekistan). The linguistic policy within the context of the Soviet society based as well on surrogate ideologemes, i.g.: “All nations and languages are equal”, “The Russian language is the second native language of a Soviet citizen”, “Functional load of both Russian and national languages is rationalized”, “In the Soviet society, the harmonic and parity bilingualism is developed”. Each and every of those theses proved to be inviabal. In the frame of the article, we don’t follow the aim to observe this situation critically, but in our discussion, we take as a starting point the fact that the Russian language as the language of the metropolis became communicatively dominant in the vast territory of the former Soviet Union. Until now, in the post-Soviet society, the stable language asymmetry remains. In the majority of the countries — the USSR ex-parts national languages are just underway to obtain their initial functioning scale. Thus, in modern Kazakhstan, there’s developing active vernaculization, or the return of the functional “rights” of the indigenous Kazakh language, which during many years fulfilled the limited communicative function (i.e., communication in limited social environments: in the family, the close circle and the like). The main assignment, namely, communitive, cognitive, cumulative, expressive, transporting, and translation was carried out by the Russian language. Let’s emphasize: the Russian language efficiently coped and is coping with the tasks and fully corresponds to its status of “the language of international communication”. However, we are interested in the phenomenon of literary translingualism, induced by Russian language the nativism which led to a kind of “identity crisis” inside the society declared to be ‘unified’. Ethnic and linguistic personalities of the majority of the USSR residents didn’t coincide because the acquisition of another language doesn’t lead at all to the acquisition of another culture (at least, for this phenomenon, one would need a substantial period of time).

Ubiquitous literary process in the acquired Russian language is the prime example of the translingual creative practice of ethnically non-Russian authors. Here comes a short list of the authors’ names that is going to be continued nowadays: Kyrgyz authors are Chinghiz Aitmatov, Sherboto Tokombayev; Kazakh: Olzhas Suleimenov, Askar Suleimenov, Anuar Alimzhanov, Murat Auezov, Auezkhan Kodar, Aslan Zhaksylykov; Belorussian: Vasil Bykov and Ales Adamovich; Georgian: Chabua Amirajebi, Alexander Ebanoidze, — Moldavian: Ion Drutse; Bashkir: Anatolij Genatullin; Osetian: Yezetkhan Uraimagova, Gaito Gazdanov, Ruslan Totrov; Lak: Efendi Kapiev; Chuvash: Gennadij Aigi; Uzbek: Timur Pulatov, Uchkun Nazarov; Azerbaijani: Chinghis Gusejnov, Maksud and Rustam Ibragimbekovy; Ukrainian: Vitalij Korotich; Chechen: Elbrus Minkailov, Issa and Timur Kodzoevy; Ingush: Idris Bazorkin, Bagaudin Zyazikov; Karachay: Isa Kapayev; Tadjik: Timur Zul’fikarov; Chukchi: Yuri Rytkheu; Mansi: Yuvan Shestalov; Nivkh: Vladimir Sangi; Tatar: Guzel Yakhina and many-many others. In the opinion of O. Garcia and Li Wei, the notions of “translingual activity” and “translingual practice” are based on the creativity of bilingual authors [7].

The applicability of the term “translingualism” signals a new quality of texts (including literary ones), which couldn’t be called either “bilingual” or “multi-lingual” properly. Translingual text supposes the absence of strict borderlines between contacting languages and definite integration of linguistic resources in the literary whole. At the disposal of a bilingual author, there’s the resource base of two languages, but his creative self-applicability is reached through the dominant language. In our case, this language is Russian. The Russian language ceased to coincide with the Russian linguistic culture only both in geo-linguistic and spiritually cultural space. And in this case, does a language stay as a national spirit? And, if yes, but what’s the nation exactly? Does the ethnic culture vanish due to the functional transfer to another Language?

Obviously, it doesn’t vanish. Moreover, by virtue of language, endowed with large functional “power”, ethnic culture is translated into the outer space, i.e., extends the area of its existence. Turning again to W. Humboldt’s metaphor, one can sum up: to remain “national spirit”, language should permanently refill itself with a new ethnic content. This content doesn’t expel or substitute original native content, but combines with it in the synergetic interaction. In this case, I.S. Khugayev states the presence of “ethnic substratum, or understratum” in Russian language literary texts. M. Tlostanova speaks about “the twinkling inner form of a literary work”. Language (and we speak about Russian) acts here as “a connecting, juxtaposing source” (M. Heidegger’s expression). According to V. Heidegger’s ides, understanding is the existence in the world, existence with the others. Speculating about the origins of language, the philosopher specifies that a man is the “instrument of language”. Spoken by a translingual author, language couldn’t but express his ethnic selfhood, either talking or writing, it couldn’t but be refracted through his ethnic self-consciousness. As L.A. Novikov equitably remarks, “a literary work bears in itself the imprint of world view, poetic vision of the real, language and style of its creator” [8. С. 12]. The scholar thinks that a literary text represents the author’s stream of consciousness, his free association verbalized in a certain way.

Translingual author is a man of semiotic “frontier”, a mediator between cultures, while translingual text is a peculiar kind of a crossover, co-opting features and properties of several cultures, but non-corresponding fully to neither of them.

During centuries each ethnos is forming its own invariant “world views” determined by characteristic features of its existence forms, national culture and psychology. At the same time these images are both collective and individual, perceived and instinctive. They are just structuring verbalized knowledge later on. In the opinion of the Russian philosopher N. Berdyaev, every man belongs to humanity with its own ethnic individuality. This idea is upheld by I.A. Ilyin, who remarks that everything ingenious in culture is procreated by national background, spirit, lifestyle pattern.

“We have already stated that the nationality of a man is determined not by arbitrariness, but by the mode of his instinct and creative act, the mode of his unconsciousness, and mostly by the mode of his unconscious spirituality. Show to me how you believe and pray, how are revealed your kindness, heroism, sense of honour and obligation duty; how you sing, dance and recite poems; what you call “know and understand”; how you love your family; who are your favourite leaders, geniuses and prophets, — tell me all this, and I’ll tell you are the son of what nation; and all this depends not on you conscious instinct, but on spiritual mode of your unconscious” [9]. So, which is why translingual texts written in Russian are perceived by researchers (and readers) as non-Russian. (The statement of Kazakh author M. Auezov is indicative: “I write in Russian, but at the same time not in Russian”).

Translingual practice of Russian language writers (as well as writers turning to other languages as mediation means) overcomes a linguistic postulate that then real understanding of a man is possible at the only (existence) layer of culture. In the continuum of translingual text, no borrowing of a certain phenomenon from one culture to another takes place, when the result brings to appear “damaged” images due to their secondary nature (N.F. Aliferenko) [10]. There takes place the relocation of the concept itself in all its cognitive, emotional, cultural complexity from one semiosphere into another one. Mechanisms of such relocation could be denoted as a transfer [11].

So, what does a transfer mean? It could be defined as a means to pass the information from one individual to another one inside one and the same culture, and broader — from one culture to another one within the world culture, the means that brings human civilization on a new turn of development. Transfer is a phenomenon of a cognitive-communicative arrangement.

We’d mark here the priority of cognitive aspect: while language-text are transferred into another (foreign) culture, it’s first of all the notion characterized with the specialness of a certain world view. In some sense, this notion (transferred) is non-equivalent in any other sign system. Using the terminology of A. Wierzbicka, such notions could be denoted as semantically non-correlative for any other culture, they are “equivocal for the given language” [12]. The absence in the culture of a certain notion causes the absence of nomination of it in language. Thus translingual author has to transplant into the acquired culture the notion itself (cognitive level), and its verbal cover (word). And in this case, the scheme of the transfer looks like “a notion, expressed in the isomorphic word”, but not like a word calling a Russian reader “to get acquainted” with an exotic piece of “the other” real. In this way, transfer is cardinally different from language borrowing. In a translingual text, a researcher deals with the verbalization of “national world views”, but not with exoticisms, barbarisms or xenonyms. A monolingual reader can doubtlessly see xenonyms in such structures. Still, virtually from the point of view of author’s intention, they are different. In a translingual text, each verbal fact of “the otherness” acquires the status of “ontic” if to turn to M. Heidegger’s formulas.

In a broad sense, ontology is a theory of existence, its fundamental principles and substantial entity. In the center of the theory of the ontology of arts there’s the study of the means and ways of the existence of art creation, art work as a sensual-and-material object, the correlation of its form of material realization as well as the dependence of the actualization of the sense implanted in the art work on behalf of a reader’s perceiving consciousness and broad cultural-and-historic context.

Any work of the verbal art is a text existing in the objective real and realized in the corresponding covers.

A sense, as L.A. Novikov writes, is an integrative notion. It emerges in course of complex interaction of the imagery-thematic text structure along with its sensual design turned to perception.

The art doesn’t exist just like a material structure. According to R. Ingarden, if to consider an art work from the side of its inviolable reality without introducing anything individual it is assimilated with a thing. The real, authentic existence of the piece of art is the spiritual existence [13].

In the opinion of R. Ingarden, the art is materialized in such mode of existence as visibility. If it’s impossible to determine a psychological sense of an art work, it is no more than the air. The art work is always recreated and can’t be created once and for ever, which makes the cause of possibility of its interpretation.

And what is properly the specifics of art? On the one hand, an art work doesn’t coincide with the real, on the other hand, it’s not a pure fiction. The question of the ontology of the art lays in finding out what’s the essence of the art’s existence — immanent and preset in the consciousness of a subject perceiving a piece of art.

The understanding of the ontology of an art work was developed in philosophy of the 20th century alongside with the elaboration of the phenomenological paradigm and logic-and mathematic knowledge of the model of “one of the possible worlds” semantics.

From the point of view of the ontology, an art work is a possible world, some potential, hypothetic reality which differs from the reality. In the ontology of aesthetics, a possible, or potential world is viewed as a metaphysical alternative to the objective world, which still helps understand, comprehend and view this objective world from a new angle. The world being created by the Creator (an author, an artist, an architect, etc.) is define as the intentional world. It possesses its own existence different from the existence of the objective world, but at this, it’s not either a fiction or an illusion/ It’s rather, according to A.F. Losev concerning the myth, such a world is substantial, affective and hitherward, existing on the near side.

A possible artistic world was studied by many philosophers: J. Searle, R. Ingarden, D. Lewis, B. Miller and others. While starting the study of artistic world, one has to rely upon some a priori statements. Firstly, a literary art always contains a certain number of lacunae which one can interpret in various ways; according to R. Ingarden, it’s not a flaw of an art creation but the property of its specific existence; the art is not worse than the real world, it is existing in another way, and this otherness means its specifics [13]. E. Husserl is inclined to the idea that the tentative reality of a piece of art exists independent from the possibility of the referred to real to exist. [14]. As distinct from the objective reality, an artistic work tells us just that which stays in the frames of a text. Special ontological aesthetic task of an artistic work is picturing a man with his complex nature (destiny, situation, action, ides). With losing of one of the levels of this structure, an artistic work become defective, and an artist makes a person unable to deepen himself into ontological “layers” of the subject revealed in the beauty modus.

H.G. Hadamer thinks that the art supposes cognition, facilitating a recipient’s transformation. Each time, one and the same piece of art becomes a source of new experience because this experience is neve finalized, it undergoes various modifications and transformations. The existence of a literary work is discrete, it (a literary work) incessantly functions in someone’s perception. Its incompleteness entails the fact that the actualization of its sense supposes the merger of historic and present in contamination. The work is simultaneously existing in the modus of the past and present, it possesses its own unique temporality [15]. At that, according to Hadamer’s idea, text interpretation isn’t arbitrary, it rests within the horizons of understanding. And the interpretation of the text is viewed not as a secondary process, but as the act of re-creation, the act of new creation, the result of which preserves the connection with the initial material of interpretation. As an interpreter, a reader should establish the vector of horizontal sense predetermined by the text itself, listen attentively to the verbal texture, detect the undertones of the subtext. The art work used to open a new world, and a subject getting to know it becomes the one who declares the existence of this world. Thus the interpreter himself is involved in the art work and makes a part of it. The notion of the imminent text comes into being which isn’t confined to the elements making the text. An imminent text demand new and new readings/ Thus, artwork is no longer an object opposed to a subject, but a subject in the world of ontological subject-subjective approach.

L.V. Karasev proposes the ontological strategy of studying a literary work that he names Ontological Poetics. It’s a variation of philosophic or deep understanding of a text [6].

In the Ontological Poetics context, the author states that its main task is to look for an answer what’s the essence of aesthetical reality, how it’s structured and what its relations to the perceiving subject used to be. At that poetics is viewed as the sum of techniques, principles, arguments according to which the artistic whole is organized. The attribute “ontological” supposes to indicate existential (“ontic”) arguments, which cause text’s growth. And a researcher is interested not in the form and content correlation, but what those means are to realize the form and content, that is thanks to what any text acquires vitality. I’s necessary to understand the mechanism due to which separate narrative components are connected, and the plot is formed, and separate definite scenes and episodes are shaped. Ontological approach is focusing the level of narrative which is rather reconstructed then exists in the matter of a literary work. This is that is seen in the absence, that organizes without representing the will of the organizer. Researcher tries to comprehend senses which lay behind visible actions of the doers and, at that are not confined to the needs of the plot, style, genre or trend.

Ontological Poetics is aimed at the surprise against the fact of a text’s existence in its material form. To be means to be present, to attend. In the respect of text analysis, it proposes that the subject of our research interest is revealed in those pieces of narrative which represent the space-and-matter structures in the highest form of their expression. Those are “the strongest” pieces of a literary work which are able to indicate something quite substantial.

Such parts of a literary work bring in a number of questions demanding specific solutions. What do they indeed represent that helps them represent the artistic whole?

The prime of this or that image of a text denotes the degree of its habitual, deep-seated character in the narrative matter, its basic character. The prime sense makes the idea of life principally opposing the idea of destruction. It’s a force influencing the plot and the paradigm of symbolic details which forms the aesthetic whole of a literary work. It’s a motive retranslated from text to text, each time acquiring a new look, an indivisible semantic entity, a minimal unit of narration.

The reality under creation is isomorphic to the author’s personality. The author, as L.A. Novikov repeatedly emphasizes, affects texts as a whole.

Ontologically oriented view on a literary work turns to those narrative elements which represent the key theme most vividly, most expressively. And though these elements have a lesser volume in relation to the volume of the whole, their role in the narrative organization couldn’t be overestimated.

Finally, verbalized facts of the other (foreign) language existence being incorporated into “the matter of a literary text” (L.A. Novikov) are not just confined by the nominative function as they amount to ontic elements which under the adequate deciphering of potential connotations, are able to explicate basic levels of other language world view. They correlate with a few levels of a literary text and fulfil various functions essentially meaningful for text’s interpretation.

Discussing the levels of a literary work, L.A. Novikov speaks of the three levels: 1) ideological-aesthetical; 2) genre and style; and 3) linguistic one.

In the first aspect, a literary text is regarded as an author’s mastering of the reality depicted by him; to interpret a work adequately one has to take into consideration its social-and-cultural context, its bonds with the epoch and literary trend, with the linguistic biography of the author. The second level appeals to the “text structure”, meaning the proportion and harmony of its parts in its wholeness, its architectonics, the technique to mate images and motives of narrative. Each image is viewed by the scholar as a “cell” of a literary work, as a quantum of sense which is able to explicate the author’s intention and idea. The third level of a literary work — that is ideological and aesthetical one realizes itself in the system of linguistic figures of speech [8. S. 16].

In course of creating a literary work, a bilingual author makes a careful choice of each element while not a single of those could be qualified as an “excessive” one, or semantically superfluous because any word belonging to the other culture not only should take a proper place in the syntagmatics of the whole, but also has to supply a reader with access codes to comprehend the other ethnic perception of the world. In this case, the sensation, the awareness is the factor of principle importance. In the opinion of B.R. Russel, nationally-marked lexis always appeals to the sensibilic level of perception which is that besides the lingual aspect the mental-and-sensitive complex of an individual is involved and it both translates outside certain information about the world and conveys specific feelings of a subject which are connected with his experience about this information.

Turning back to L.A. Novikov’s classification, we are considering a word of a literary text belonging to the other culture as a unit of aesthetical level, which is even more justified in regard to the incorporated words denoting the markers of the other linguoculture, and thus they possess a great many ethno-cultural connotations due to which they might be qualified as signifiers of certain definite feelings, values, and scripts of an ethnic community.

In our research [17. С. 13—15], we prove that in a literary text, the use of lexis with national cultural semantic component is one of the important parameters of text formation. Turkisms or Turkish loan words which include archaisms, historicisms, poetonyms of the Turkish origin have no equivalent in the system of an intermediary (here: Russian) language, as they appeal to the other cultural background or ethno-specific linguistic world view (LWV). The main function of this lexis is to be the adequate means to describe the inner life of a literary character, his psychic conditions. By means of lexical units with the national culture component there happens the cohesion of micro- and macro-situations, and thus their function becomes text and plot constitutive. In this case, the incorporated word plays the role of the sign of author’s modality: namely, in course of modelling the artistic reality, it is the choice of expressive means, figures of speech that reveal author’s attitude to the world. As we suppose, ethnically marked lexis could be considered in the characterological aspect: through the portrait sketch of the cast of characters, their dominant qualities are opening out.

Descriptive-and-figurative function implies that non-equivalent background connotative lexis in the structure to describe the exterior and interior of a literary work is able to reveal the inner essence of a hero-character through exterior details, and provide the author’s evaluation of the world depicted.

Borrowed lexis could carry out symbolic function. In the semiotic aspect, it’s a sign with conventional and non-conventional meaning and author’s individual periphery component in the word semantic structure [17. С. 13—15]. To sum up: lexis with the ethnic cultural semantic component incorporated into Russophonic literary text isn’t confined to the nominative function. It’s ontic meaningful system of elements structuring the aesthetical space of the literary whole and participating in creating characters of the other (foreign) culture existence both at the descriptive-and-figurative and sensitive levels. Let’s try to illustrate our observation on the material of the poem “On this day fallen into paganism” (in Russ.: “Этим впавшим в язычество днем”).

Auezkhan Kodar is a distinguished Kazakhstani writer, a poet of “the new wave”, culturologist, philosopher, literary critic and translator, who the researcher R. Kulzhanova compared by with Centaurus, a chimeric character of Greek-Scythian borderline uniting camping-ground and sedentariness, nature and culture, soul and body. Up to being seven-year-old, A. Kodar didn’t know Russian language, but he rapidly mastered it in the Russian language environment. Education the author got in Russian let him choose this language to realize his poetic and academic potencies. As to the knowledge of Kazakh language, Kodar is obliged to his mother, “the Chrysostom” of the steep word. Each of the two language systems grated the author, according to his acknowledgement, is different in its creative possibilities. Poetry in Kazakh — is a hymn to the pagan joy of life, lyrics in Russian is full of sorrow and melancholy, which is determined by different experience of the two languages generating different mentality of poetic style [18. С. 143]. Translingual (broader — transcultural) lyrics presents the synergetic fusion or blending of the two language elements and environments generating the sophisticated modes of the artistic comprehension of existence. One might read in the poem in Russian we chose for the analysis:

Этим впавшим в язычество днем,  
Над раздраем и цвирканьем птиц
Купол неба как чаша вверх дном
В дробной россыпи солнечных спиц.

Как наложницы бога небес,
Перебором браслетов звеня,
Бой капелей повсюду, знать, здесь
Бес попутал не только меня.

Мать Умай здесь честит молодух,
Разгоняя в дым мужнин гарем.
Треск такой, что насилуешь слух
В буреломе невнятных фонем.

Воздавая себе за труды,
Чтимый всеми за власть и красу,
Юрких духов Земли и Воды
Здесь собрал их хозяин Йер-Су.

Средним миром он правит всеблаг,
Славным миром, где царствует плоть.
Если здесь ты и сыт, и не наг,
Это он тебе все подает.

Нижним миром злой правит Эрклиг,
По реке под названьем Курдым
Поплывешь ты, дремучий старик,
Чтоб не стать никогда молодым.

Чтоб не видеть, не слышать, не петь,
Потерять благодать свою — “кут”.
Если кто-то там сможет согреть,
То лишь музыкой мудрый Коркут.

Все оденется в стоны и звень,
И ты вспомнишь тогда хоть на миг
Этот впавший в язычество день
На границе столетий лихих1.

This poem gives the quintessence of the Turk archaic world view, which contains both cosmogonic and eschatological origins, the Middle world of human life, authentic images of the other (foreign) culture world and all those are merged, amalgamated and united together and are understood by a man who lives at the break of epochs being initial and eternal “the call of the blood. The first two refrains by means of beading the image of Tengri — the Supreme God of nomads is actualized. Tengri — the God of Heavens and the Upper World, and the Tengri headword is sacred. Quite often the image of the Supreme God is reconstructed at the level of additional connotations, belonging to the textual semantic field of the nuclear concept [18. С. 556]. In the given case, it’s a metaphor and a comparison, mating it (the Heaven Cope as a chalice turned upside down, the chine of globules). Tengri is the God beatifying, and it’ no coincidence that nomads perceived Him as the undrainable Chalice, upturned over the Middle World of the sons of men of the world. God’s grace — the sun and rain are pouring from it on the earth. “The Chine of globules” is the implication image (one should remark that more usual variation of “The Chine of globules” isn’t approved by the author): along with the function of space harmonization, Tengri fulfils the function of the great Protector of the mortals. This hypostasis is connected with the images of hero- giant which bears on its shoulders the cope of heaven, the thunder-bearer and the protector of glorious heroes, challenging the evil force. In the Turks’ thinking, the procreation of life is cruel battle of love. In the third refrain, the image of the great Mother Umai is actualized: Umai is grey-brown earth personifying rich fertile source. Umai is Tengri’s fellow traveler. By nature, her image is dialectic: like Tengri, Umai has got the hypostasis of the great woman-warrior (Her attribute is the golden bow), smashing the evil force, but at the same time, Umai is the Protector of peaceful life, heath of home, children and earth fertility; she grant people quiet kind death, as in the “moonlight” representation she possesses sacred knowledge about the existence. In Kodar’s poem, Umai is subjected to the influence of ancient Greek mythological tradition: Her qualities of jealousy and possessory are announced as those of Hera, the Supreme Goddess of Greek Pantheon. Th Middle World is governed by the collective God of Yer-Su (lit.: Earth — Water). According to E.M. Meletinskij, Yer-Su complex containing seventeen of His various manifestations. In the Kazakh culture, Yer-Su is a woman-Goddess, included in the triad “Tengri — Umai — Yer-Su”. It’s worth mentioning, that in the Kodar’s poem, the feminine image turns into a masculine image. Yer-Su endows the human race with various benefits: Her/His will gives birth and helps ripen the seed, cattle breeds, people learn to get accustomed to the environment and produce material things. The God Erlic (lit.: “extramundane”) is hostile to men, He is the Lord of Erebus. After the “patriarchy reform” the initially feminine god started to be perceived as a masculine god. He is the eternal Tengri’s antipode; however, the relations between them form the antinomy — indissoluble communion of oppositions. The evil is brought to people by nine Erlic’s daughters, whose images represent the main human deficiencies — envy, greed, laziness, etc.

In the ancient nomadic world understanding, there’s no death, but there is recession to the sleep and then reawakening of the soul in its new quality. The Kurdym River (lit.: “Nothing”) is the last journey of a mortal, and nothing could turn its waters backwards. This image is connected with the inevitability of transformations in the great circle of life. Man loses his “kut” which means good vital force, the seed of happiness and welfare because with each new birth, the “kut” is given from on high it the man’s soul stayed pure and deserving reward. And it’s just the music of wise Korkyt is able to warm a man in the Acheron, because Korkyt, who could deceive the death, symbolizes the idea of eternal transfiguration and re-creation.


As is seen, lexical elements with nationally marked semantic component play the role of plot-generating elements; due to their deciphering, it becomes possible to reconstruct “mytho-poetical scenario” significant to understanding of the other (foreign) linguoculture. They are ontically significant and appeal to the basic concepts of an ethnos concerning space, time, world order, and human life, therefore they can’t be considered like borrowings. They are poetonyms of the unique world view scintillating through Russophonic literary texts.


1 See: https://magazines.gorky.media/druzhba/2007/6/doroga-k-stepnomu-znaniyu.html (accessed: 18.05.2021).


About the authors

Uldanai M. Bakhtikireeva

Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University)

Author for correspondence.
Email: uldanai@mail.ru
Doctor of Philology, Professor, Professor of the Department of Russian Language and Intercultural Communication 6, Miklukho-Maklaya str., Moscow, Russian Federation, 117198

Olga A. Valikova

Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University)

Email: leka.valikova@mail.ru
PhD in Philology, Associate Professor of the Department of Russian Language and Intercultural Communication 6, Miklukho-Maklaya str., Moscow, Russian Federation, 117198


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