Slovo.ru: Baltic accent

2018 Vol. 9 № 3

SEMIOTICS AND ONTOLOGY: THE PROBLEMS OF DESCRIPTION

Events as a semantic framework for the construction of reality: the prospects of a transition to a dynamic ontology

Abstract

Events are the main element in the formation and presentation of a worldview across all the research disciplines in the humanities and other sciences. Cognising and understanding reality requires the consideration and construction of data, descriptions, correlations, and narratives, to all of which concrete events are the key. In this article, we analyse the connection between an event and reality, with a special focus on social events in the context of management. Such an approach does not confine us to descriptions. On the contrary, we can benefit from considering the phenomena in the context of opportunities for the constructive transformation of reality. We address three major problems. The first problem concerns the possibility of a dynamic description of the nature of events. In this context, we justify a transition to a constructive-dynamic ontological paradigm. We identify the functions of an event that consists in the creation, management, and destruction or reality. We demonstrate the need for a constructive model of a special event—a model taking into account the temporal factor in the development of reality. The second problem concerns the development of theoretical (mathematical) tools to describe such dynamics. In this connection, we identify the mathematical semantics of event processes. To build the necessary model, we use the methods of maxima/ minima and infinitesimal calculus and carry out an analysis of the threshold values of the event function. The third problem is the verification of the model and the description of its possible applications. In this context, we demonstrate how this model can be used in forecasting and developing special events, including those in interactive mode.

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Ontological taxonomy as a means to inventory the elements of the semantic metalanguage of cognitive analysis (based on E. V. Rakhilina’s monograph Cognitive Analysis of Object Names (Semantics and Collocations))

Abstract

In this work, I address the problems of inventorying the semantic metalanguage used in cognitive analysis to describe the meaning and collocation characteristics of object names. I establish correlations between elements of the semantic metalanguage to explain the meanings of linguistic units and speech sections in E. V. Rakhilina’s monograph Cognitive Analysis of Object Names (Semantics and Collocations) (Rakhilina 2010). I focus on the units of the semantic metalanguage, i. e. words and phrases denoting phenomena of reality. Such words and phrases comprise the lexicon of the metalanguage used in the semantic reflection of the author of semantic descriptions. The inventory of the semantic elements follows the alphabetical clustering principle. The ‘ontological taxonomy’ covers clusters, at the apex of which are the denominations of fragments of the world (reality) reflected by the internal aspect of linguistic units. These denominations are expressed by nouns with generic meanings: ‘object’, ‘container’, ‘surface’, etc. For brevity, I focus only on the third element — the ontological taxonomy. The result of the study — the ontological taxonomy of the researcher’s metalanguage — is presented in the appendix in the form of a dictionary.

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WORD AND DEED: LANGUAGE IN DISCURSIVE PRACTICES

Lexical explicators of the modality of necessity in the Old and New Testament (the Synodal translation into Russian)

Abstract

In this article, I explore one of the elements of situational modality, namely, the microfield of the modality of necessity. I consider the use of lexical modifiers of the modality of necessity in the Old and New Testament. The aims of this study are to identify similarities and differences in the use of lexemes explicating the microfield in the biblical texts and to produce a comparative analysis of modal meanings of objective-subjective and objective necessity expressed through relevant lexemes. Another objective is to assess the influence of the meanings of necessity on the semantic orientation of the biblical texts manifested in the difference between the precepts of the Old and New Testament. I employ the field approach and use both universal research methods and the methods and techniques of the functional-semantic, etymological, and contextual analysis, etc. The main finding of this study is that the semantic content of lexical modifiers of the modality of necessity in the New Testament differs from that in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament texts, necessity is perceived primarily as a legal and social law, whereas in the New Testament it is understood as a moral duty. This contributes to the Christian idea of the existence of a legal and social law and a higher, moral law, which are not always identical. Using the findings of this study, I describe the formation of the division between the spiritual and social aspects of duty in human consciousness and identify the causes of contradictions between the spiritual and social duty.

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V. The hagiographic topic in I. S. Shmelev’s novel The Inexhaustible Chalice

Abstract

In this article, we discuss the hagiographic topics in I. S. Shmelev’s novel The Inexhaustible Chalice, which are expressed through different components of the novel’s literary structure — ranging from the individual traits of the main character, Ilya Sharonov, to twists of the plot and the milestones of his biography. We maintain that in terms of the genre this novel resembles both the lives of the righteous and the lives of the venerable. The novel conforms to the canons of hagiographic texts because of the presence of a righteous character, whose image is built in accordance with the traditional paradigm of the positive qualities of a saint. Other reasons for such conformity include the biographical topic, namely, a stable set of events and facts, affecting the life and fate of the character, and such structural plot elements as the character’s dreams and visions, as well as signs and miracles, which testify to his initiation into sacred knowledge and visions. The topic of the ‘angelic image’, which is manifested in the character’s physical resemblance to an angel, also contributes to the conformity with the hagiographic canon.

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Between faith and disbelief: the theme of life and death in Yu. N. Ivanov’s novel Dances in the Crematory: Ten Episodes from the Life of Königsberg

Abstract

In exploring the themes of life and death in Yu. N. Ivanov’s novel Dances in the Crematory, I carry out a structural-semantic analysis of the fragmentary chronotope and the ideational- thematic and plot-compositional levels of the novel. I demonstrate that the principle of fragmentarity is utilised by the author to the full extent across the novel, primarily, in its chronotope. The latter is closely connected with the fragmentary-discrete structure of human consciousness and memory, including the spiritual memory, which secures the most vivid events and episodes from the life of the main character in the textual space of the novel. I prove that, at the ideational-thematic level, the principle of fragmentarity is manifested in the novel in the form of a series of antithesis themes and binary oppositions (peace/war, life/death, god/evil, love/hate, faith/disbelief, God/devil), which reveal the author’s worldview and integrate semantically different dimensions of the novel — subjective, psychological, moral, philosophical, and fictional ones. These oppositions emphasise the novel’s leitmotif (the metaphor of the road as a person’s life journey) and its central moral-philosophical idea and dilemma — the tragic fate of a person who has chosen the independent path of overcoming death with life. I stress the correlation between the themes of life and death, which gravitate in the novel towards a difficult, yet clear victory of life over death. I trace how the autobiographical character- narrator gradually turns to God and faith. I prove that, in the novel’s poetics, the author uses such a technique as the compression of the plot and the idea into two symbolic metaphors — the dance in the crematory and the zoo, which stand for resurrection and the triumph of life in the tragic space of Königsberg/Kaliningrad — a city devastated by the war.

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Age-related characteristics of English, American, and Russian compliments

Abstract

In this article, I identify and analyse the linguistic features of the generation and perception of compliments by people of different age identities from English, American and Russian cultures. Language is not the same across different age groups, which necessitates a thorough examination of age-related parameters in language and the identification of semiotic markers of age identity. The promising area of linguistic research — social semiotics — lends an urgency to such a study. To achieve the goal of the research, I employ the methods of contextual analysis and semantic and pragmatic interpretation. The qualitative calculations ensure the relevance of the study, which takes into account the intentional and stylistic features of compliments and reactions to compliments. The need to study these aspects is explained by the orientation of compliments towards effective communication. A typology of intentions and reactions shows that cultural differences between representatives of the English, American, and Russian national identities are clearly manifested in language. As to intentions, people with a mature English identity gravitate towards politeness, those with mature American identity towards praise, and those with mature Russian identity towards praise and flattery. An analysis of linguistic material demonstrates that compliments made by people with a mature age identity differ from those made by younger persons. Younger people are more prone to make compliments in informal communication than persons with mature age identity are. Compliments made by members of each age group have certain specific features. The findings of the study can be employed in the Stylistics and Pragmalinguistics courses, which is the practical outcome of the research.

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RUSSIAN STUDIES ABROAD

Discursive practices of the Russian diaspora in Estonia: language contacts

Abstract

In this article, I use the concept of discursive practices to consider the speech practices of the Russian diaspora of Estonia. The findings of the study suggest the existence of an invariant discourse generated by an exemplary member of the diaspora. Such a discourse has formal (borrowings, code-switching, etc.), semantic (referential shifts, semantically re-oriented vocabulary, etc.), and pragmatic features. The results of the diasporic speech analysis show that the key components of a typical diasporic discourse are the following ones: spatial-temporal localization (space: Estonia — Russia —the West relations; significant locations, space in the past and today (the empire, the Republic of Estonia, the Soviet Union); information space; time: historical periods, dates, holidays; time in information space, etc.), linguistic reflections (metalinguistic units denoting co-existence, knowledge, language acquisition, etc.), evaluations (objects of evaluation, types of evaluation) and self-identification (ethnic, denominational, cultural, socio-economic). The above is not only characteristic of the diasporic speech. These components also describe the worldview of language users belonging to the diaspora and their naïve linguistic conceptualisation of reality. Within the typical diasporic discourse, I distinguish a metalinguistic discourse that rests on discursive practices stemming from language contacts. These practices were described in part earlier. In this article, I summarize my earlier findings on the topic and analyse new material.

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