Different approaches to the concept of “success” in the english language


The article examines different approaches to the concept of “success” in the English language. The words “concept” and “success” from several sources and their use in the English Iiteratrne have been regarded.

The concept of “success” is an integral part of the conceptual picture of the world of Western European and American cultures. According to the importance of the concept of “success” in the English language we have considered the place of the concept in the contemporary cognitive linguistics, the definition of the word “success” and its conceptual space.

There are different definitions of the word “concept” in the English language. In the Oxford Dictionary we come across the following definitions: a general idea or understanding of something: the concept of inertia; the concept of free will; a plan or original idea (The original concept was for a building with 12 floors); a unifying idea or theme, especially for a product or service (a new restaurant concept) [1].

A. Viezhbickaya in her work “Language. Culture. Cognition.” states that the “concept” is an object from the “ideal” world which has the name and reflects the people’s cultural understanding of real world. From her point of view, concept describes typical situations of culture and is the subject of cultural science studies [2, p. 10].

According to J. Stepanov the “concept” is “a basic cultural cell in the mental world of a man” [3, p.82].

Other scientists consider “success”:

  1. as the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame (Success came easily to him); correct or desired result of an attempt (Did you have any/much success in finding the dog?)someone or something that is successful: a person or thing that succeeds (The play was an immediate success) [1];
  2. the accomplishment of an aim or purpose (The president had some success in restoring confidence); the attainment of fame, wealth, or social status (The success of his play); the achieving of the results wanted or hoped for (The success of almost any project depends largely on its manager); something that achieves positive results (Both films have been a big box-office success) [4];
  3. the base and along with it a slot... “success” as the person who succeeds in his work, employment, social, etc. [5].

Similar data are given by The Cambridge Thesaurus of American English, where its basic characteristics described by the following synonymous words and phrases: consummation, resolution, accomplishment, progress, while the slot “successful man” passed the following words: celebrity, star, hit, VIP, somebody, winner [6, p.385].

Analyzing cultural dominant in English, V.I.Karasik notes that “for the English linguistic culture it is characterized by an emphasis on the success such as: symbolizing success, focus on the efforts of the individual” [7, p.25]. Thus it follows that in English culture success is directly linked with the efforts of personality.

Some scientists define five following frames of this concept:

  1. Success-movement.

Typical slots constituting the frame, represent the success of the English language picture of the world as a movement forward / backward (horizontally) or up / down (vertical).

Verbalization success as happiness is part of the English language world picture and also finds its expression through evaluating words t on a scale up - down.

  1. Success-achievement.

The components of the frame in the world of English language culture contain idiomatic expressions nominating success: to make a success, little success / ill success, well-deserved success, as well as verbs with the semantic component Ofachievement: to achieve, to succeed, to attain, to manage to do smth.

  1. Success-wealth.

Presentation of success as welfare, wealth, economic benefits, profit etc. This frame is the most productive, and its components contain a large number of synonymous nominations, makes explicit material component of success. The frequency of word usage also points to the conventional nature of these correspondences.

The success is reflected not only in the material of the individuals well-being, but also companies, enterprises, as well as the economic well-being of its citizens, the successful business development, stable economic system and etc.

  1. Success-luck.

Good luck is the phenomenon of natural law, unpredictable, is not always a man under authority. It is almost a living substance; it may suddenly come, and may also leave unexpectedly.

  1. Success-strength (success-power) [5].

Russian linguist I. Erofeeva analyzed the concept “success” in idioms and phraseologies. She suggests the following thematic groups of English idioms that represent the concept of “success’ in the plays of the XX century the total number of examples [8, p.3].

Table 1 - The concept of “success” in the plays of the XX century


Confidence in the success



Wishing success



Success as a public recognition of the



Achieving success through their own efforts



Success as the luck



Success as a dedicated in achieving the success



Success with the opposite sex



Complete success


So, we may conclude that concept “success” is considered in different ways in different cultures. The little experiment done among 7th grade school children of the Iyceum named after M.Zhumabaev, during teaching practice, has proved some ideas which were mentioned above.

In order to reveal the concept of “success” we used the method of subjective definitions. Through this method the real content of “success” in the minds of pupils was reviewed.

The experiment was carried out in two stages:

  1. They had to continue the sentence: the success - it’s ...

2.They had to name the word, that’s associated with the word “success”.

This experiment involved 13 pupils of 7th grade.

The first stage.

The following definitions of the word “success” have been identified during the experiment:

Success is... 1. family, love - 9 pupils;

  1. knowledge, to have a good job -2 pupils;
  2. wealth - 2 pupils.

The second stage.

At this stage, the informants selected words with similar meaning to “success”. There were identified the following synonyms to it: happiness (7), good luck (3), victory (2), power (1).

Based on this experiment, we can make the conclusion, that “success” in the mind of pupils is associated with good luck and knowledge. They cannot imagine a successful person without happy family. So, considering the conceptual space of the word “success” in different cultures would help us to learn differences and similarities from their cognitive point of view.



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  2. А.Н. Вежбицкая. Язык. Культура. Познание. / Сост. М. А. Кронгауз. -Москва. 1997. - 110 с.
  3. Ю.С. Степанов. Концепт, категория. прототип // Лингвистическая и экстралингвистическая семантика. Сборник обзоров. - Москва, ИНИОН РАН, 1992. - 82 с.
  4. [Электронный ресурс]. - Режим доступа http://dictionary.cambridge.org/ru/CollinsEnglishDictionary - CompleteandUnabridged, HtliEdition 2014. - London, 2014,- 337 с.
  5. Dictionary of American English. LongmaiiTliird edition, 2004.[Электронныйресурс]. - Рсжимдост\'па\\і\і\. longman.com/dictioiiarics
  6. The Cambridge Thesaurus of American English / Compiled by William D. Lntz RutgersUniversity: CambridgeUniversityPress. 1994. - 385 c.
  7. В.И. Карасик. Языковой круг: Личност. концепты, дискурс. -Волгоград, 2012. - 25 с
  8. И.В. Ерофеева. Аксиология медиатекста в российской культуре (ценностная рефлексия журналистики начала XXI века): Забайкал. гос. гум. пед. ун-т. - Чита, 2009. - 5 с.
Year: 2017
Category: Philosophy