Basic results of cognitive and comparative analysis of russian and english axiological adjectives’ semantics

Annotation

This article presents the main results of the research conducted in the context of cognitive-comparative semantics of Russian and English axiological adjectives. The aim of the study was to identify and describe the cognitive features of the axiological semantics of adjectives in Russian and English on the basis of the analysis of propositional structures and associative verbal networks of evaluative adjectives. The research material was extracted as a result of the continuous sample from dictionaries. The material was presented by 361 Russian and 353 English adjectives of general and specific evaluation. The following methods were used in the research: comparative, synchronous-descriptive and quantitative methods, methods of structural-semantic analysis, methods of cognitive analysis of the semantics of linguistic units: propositional analysis and tire method of associative verbal modeling of the language, the continuous sample technique, and such general scientific methods and techniques, as analysis, synthesis, classification and generalization. The analysis was carried out in two stages - the analysis of propositional structures of the axiological adjectives with the identification of the argument composition and content of the propositions; and the analysis of associative-verbal networks. This study enriches the modem linguistic science with the methodology of comparative cognitive analysis developed by the author, and its results can contribute to the studies of linguistic semantics and cognitive linguistics, stylistics and comparative linguistics. The research materials can be used in the theory and practice of teaching Russian and English languages, and lexicography (when compiling Russian-English and English-Russian dictionaries or thesauri).

Introduction

Axiological meaning, being anthropocentric, is of special interest for the analysis from the cognitive point of view, as the evaluation is the result axiological activity, one of the main types of thinking. The main evaluations, being the product of this activity, are positive and negative evaluations, measured on a scale of "good / bad", expressed in linguistic meanings by "good / bad" respectively, i.e. in the semantic structure of any word with axiological meaning, an adjective in this study, there is an evaluation seme.

The seme of evaluation can be found both in the denotative and in the Connotative parts of the semantic structure of axiological adjectives, depending on which type of evaluative meaning an adjective belongs to. Axiological adjectives are divided into the adjectives of general and specific evaluation. The latter are subdivided into the adjectives of rational and emotional evaluation. In the semantic structure of adjectives of general and specific (rational) evaluation, the evaluative seme is in the denotative part, whereas in the structure of the emotional evaluative adjectives the "good/bad" seme belongs to the Connotative part of the meaning. But due to the fact that the denotative and Connotative components of the semantic structure are in the relations of the functional diarchy, the evaluative seme, even being in the Connotative part of the adjective’s meaning, is the dominant of the semantic structure.

The research methods

We considered it possible to include evaluative adjectives to the group of axiological predicates, together with verbal predicates, and to consider their semantics as "linguistic image of the situation" [1]. All the semes in the semantic structure of evaluative adjectives are the steps or stages, describing various axiological situations. The proposition is considered to be the linguistic image of the situation. Therefore, cognitive analysis of the semantics of axiological adjectives was carried out by identifying the cognitive units manifested in propositions. The construction of propositional structures implies the definition of the arguments, their components, the relationships between the argument roles, and their meaningful content. The comparison of propositional structures of evaluative adjectives of the Russian and English languages made it possible to identify and describe the cognitive units that manifest themselves in propositions and reflect the axiological activity of the speakers of the analyzed languages. To characterize the cognitive semantics of evaluative adjectives of the Russian and English languages in a more detailed way the analysis of their associative- verbal networks was also carried out, which made it possible to identify and describe the cognitive units manifested in associative verbal structures.

In the research, 361 evaluative adjectives of the Russian and 353 evaluative adjectives of the English language, classified into eight types of evaluation according to the N.D. Arutiunova’s classification, were analyzed, namely the adjectives of general and seven kinds of specific (emotional, intellectual, aesthetic, ethical, teleological, utilitarian and normative) evaluation [2].

The research results

The analysis of propositional structures of the adjectives of positive and negative evaluation of different types in Russian and English brought us to the following conclusions:

Propositional structures of evaluative adjectives have their own inventory of argument roles, different from the propositional structure of verbs revealed by V. V. Bogdanov [3] and taken as the basis for the determination of the general organization of the propositional structure of evaluative adjectives. In addition to the argument roles common for verbal and adjectival predicates, such as: Agent, Experiencer, Benefactive, Patient, Object, Instrument, Descriptive and Result, new propositions have been revealed in the propositions of evaluative adjectives that distinguish them from propositional verb structures. These arguments are Positive, Negative, Product, Norm, Condition, Temporative, Emotive, Rational, Fact and Collective.

Such participants of the axiological situation as Subject and Object of evaluation, acting as the elements of the propositional structure of evaluative adjectives of both Russian and English, are characterized by multi-argumentality. That is, in the process of deploying propositional structure, these elements of the evaluative situation fulfill more than one role.

  • The substantive discrepancy between the argument roles of propositional structures of teleological evaluative adjectives of Russian and English indicates that the material orientation of the teleological semantics of the Russian adjectives is more strongly marked. That is, teleologically good, effective, in the Russian language is something that brings profit and benefit, whereas the sources of teleologically good for the English speaker are more diverse. Teleologically good for the speaker of English is that which works well, functions well, as it is necessary to achieve the goal; something that brings good luck, profit and income. The above mentioned indicates a greater functional orientation of the axiological activity ofEnglish speakers.
  • The propositional structure of the Russian adjectives of utilitarian evaluation differs from the proposition of the English utilitarian- evaluative adjectives both by the quantitative and qualitative composition of the argument roles. With the general arguments (Agent, Object, Product, Result, Positive/Negative, Experiencer and Benefactive), the Norm argument is present in the Russian proposition, and the arguments of the Condition, Temporative are in the English proposition. The revealed difference indicates that when assessing utilitarian positivity / negativity, English speakers pay attention to the extent to which the evaluated subject is suitable or useful at the moment in the given situation, whereas in the axiological activity of Russian speakers in the field of utilitarian evaluation there is no time factor, since the Subject is evaluated according to its compliance with the Norm.
  • In the case of emotional evaluation, Russian speakers tend to be inclined toward inner harmony, calmness and, on the other hand, to the unusual, while the semantics of emotional evaluative adjectives of English reflect the propensity of English speakers to approve all living, cheerful, and exciting. Thai is the position of an English speaker as an emotionally evaluating personality is more active than that of a Russian evaluating personality.

In the argument composition of the propositions of Russian and English adjectives with the meaning of aesthetic evaluation there is a substantial difference that suggests that Russian speakers tend to like everything unusual, and English speakers are more open and frank when evaluating objects in respect of their beauty.

The inventory of argument roles in propositions of normative evaluative adjectives of Russian and English is different both in quantity and in content. In the propositional structures of the Russian adjectives, the Norm of three types is identified: Norm-Truth, Norm-Quality, Norm-Law; in the propositions of the English adjectives, there are four types of Norms: Norm-Quality, Norm-Opinion, Norm-Law and Norm-Function. These differences indicate that when making a normative evaluation Russian speakers pay attention to how much the object of evaluation corresponds to the truth and reality, while English speakers are more focused on their personal opinion and on how correct and true is this or that object in a certain situation.

The analysis of the semantic structures of Russian and English adjectives of ethical evaluation showed that the differences in their propositions are observed mainly in the Norm argument role. In the propositions of the Russian adjectives the Norm is represented by the Norm-Conscience and Norm-Morality, whereas in the propositions of the English adjectives - the Norm-Law, Norm-Religion and Norm-Morality. Another difference, reflected in the meaning of Russian and English ethical evaluation adjectives is that for a Russian speaker in order to evaluate an object as ethically bad, it is enough that the latter only possesses negative qualities, whereas for an English speaker it is important that the object of evaluation has committed some negative action.

The analysis of the semantics of Russian and English adjectives with the meaning of intellectual evaluation showed that differences in the inventory and content of the argument roles of their propositions are not observed.

In addition to the analysis of the propositional structures of the evaluative adjectives of Russian and English, the analysis of their associative- verbal networks was carried out. The semantic network model is one of the most common models of knowledge storage and representation, therefore, the associative-verbal network (AVN) is a mini-model of the structural organization of human consciousness. Therefore, the analysis of associative-verbal networks made it possible to identify and describe cognitive units that manifest themselves in the semantics of axiological adjectives. The analysis of associative-verbal networks of evaluative adjectives has shown that:

The axiological activity of Russian speakers is characterized by greater subjectivity and a focus on human relations, i.e. the evaluation takes place in the "Man-Man" system, whereas the axiological activity of English speakers is carried out to a greater extent in the "Person-Reality" system and is more objective.

The following semantic relations dominate in the AVN of Russian adjectives: generalized statements, the degree of the feature/characteristic, the evaluation of the feature/characteristic, deixis, words in foreign (English) language, visual images, fairy-tale characters; whereas in the AVN of the English adjectives there is an indication of the field of science, the sign of the presence of a feature/characteristic, the grammatical and semantic variation of the feature/characteristic.

  • The predominance of generalized statements and evaluations of the feature/characteristic indicate a greater degree of subjectivity in the axiological activity of Russian speakers.

The presence of foreign words demonstrates interest, positive attitude to everything foreign, mostly Western, and hence the orientation to the Western fashion, cinema, and behavior.

  • A feature of deixis in AVN of Russian speakers is the predominance of the indication of the subject of speech (he, they), which indicates a tendency to evaluate others, not themselves.

Imagery and visibility in the reactions dominate in the AVN of the Russian language, which reveals a feature of the prototypical thinking (in which prototypical images are most often associated with people and animals). In the English AVN, there are prototypical reactions as well, but they are not associated with people or animals, but with objects and colors, which indicates a more material perception of the world when performing evaluation activities.

Conclusion

The conducted research [4], [5] showed that the cognitive-comparative analysis of the semantics of evaluative adjectives of the Russian and English languages, carried out by analyzing propositional structures and associative-verbal networks is justified and leads to the identification of common and distinctive features of mentality, knowledge of the speakers of a particular language in the semantics of lexical units. The perspective of the study is seen in the further development of methods for comparative cognitive research of the semantics of linguistic units both in isolated form and at the time of their use in speech with the purpose of identifying and describing the cognitive characteristics of speakers of different languages. The method of carrying out the analysis of associative- verbal networks, proposed in the research, can be the basis for conducting and further processing the results of associative experiments.

 

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Year: 2018