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Mentality and Language


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It is well known that human culture, social behavior and thinking cannot exist without language. Being a social and national identity, and a means of human communication, language cannot help bearing imprints of ethnic and cultural values as well as the norms of behavior of a given language community. All is reflected in the vocabulary of a language. But it should be noted that the grammatical structure of a language more exactly reflects the mentality of a nation as it is closer to thinking. "While the number of words in a language represents the volume of its world, the grammatical structure of a language gives an idea of the inner organization of thinking".[1]

This important notion was first introduced by V. fon Gumboldt. [2].

"Frequent repetition of certain relations creates in a person's mind the so called the category of experience. Essentially it is a notional category which can be expressed in a language. And how this category can be expressed in a language depends on the linguacreative thinking. The linguacreative thinking is capable of choosing the means of expression, it might determine the semantic volume of the category, the peculiarities of its combination and etc".[3]. The national categories exactly serve the foundation for the morphological categories of the language. They are the system forming units which constitute the basic attributes of any language. It is well known that the category of gender is one of the important categories of the Russian language. This category divides all the names, objects into 3 gender groups in accordance with the outer formal indicators like inflexions. It is not difficult for native speakers of Russian to define the gender characteristics of the nouns, while for foreigners to learn the rules of gender characteristics is one of the complicated tasks. And it is quite natural: gender opposition of the feminine, masculine and neuter gender exists in the language consciousness of the Russian people. But it is necessary to make every effort for a foreigner to assimilate this category, to comprehend it and to put it in good order in his language consciousness and then to use it in his speech. This property characterizes all the morphological categories irrespective of the type of the language: they constitute the basic "foot hold" of the language consciousness.

The grammatical (morphological) categories are normally formed in any language as a result of long generalization of the concrete lexical material, the further abstracting of a certain semantic idea. Thus, for all Turkic and Slavonic languages the semantic notion of quantity has become the semantic dominant characteristics of the nouns. But the notion of quantity (one-many) is the semantic general notion (universalis) for many languages. But we cannot affirm that this category is topical for native speakers of all languages. ".. .facts of language are not the cause and effect; not all the categories of collective thinking are expressed by the language categories. At the same time not everything expressed by the language belongs to what is more realized and more socially important". [4]. To become an integral property of this or that language two main conditions are required: firstly, it should be a binding characteristics of the basic word stock due to which it is constantly claimed in speech of this native speaker; secondly, this semantic dominant is split into several "portions" and distributed among all the words of this part of speech dividing them into forms opposing to each other. These opposed forms exist as logical and semantic oppositions in the language thought of the people. The grammatical opposition "one-many" is characteristic of the Russian and Kyrgyz languages, that is why native speakers of these languages would make more precise the quantitive characteristics of objects with a help of corresponding grammatical indicators (in Russian: kniga-knigi, in Kyrgyz: kitep-kitepter and so on).

The composition of grammatical categories in different languages is different as every language "selects" those attributes of the word stock appropriate for it and this selection takes place for a long historic space of time. The grammatical system of any language is the most stable and the most slowly liable to changes part of the language structure. It is formed for many centuries and even millenniums, therefore the peculiarities of the national mentality and thinking cannot help reflecting in it. They are conditioned by the social and political climated, cultural and ethical values characteristic of this or that nation. We suppose that it influences certain extralinguistic events. According to Malinovsky it is necessary to create a special discipline the aim of which would be to reveal the real nature of the grammatical categories proceding from the primitive attitude of Man to Reality.[5]. Within the frame work of this article will be made an attempt to compare very important for the Kyrgyz and Slavonic (Russian) languages grammatical categories and to give an extralinguistic ground for their existence in these languages. But since the grammatical system of the languages is the general foundation for the related languages, therefore on the level of the semantic value and their formal expression, they are adequately correlative, it is more expedient to analyse not one concrete language but the whole language system: Turkic and Slavonic. Concrete languages like Kyrgyz and Russian will be drawn as illustrative languages.

Turkic languages

Slavonic languages

1.  Affiliation

2.  Compulsion

3.  Modality

4.  Figurative verbs

1.  Gender affiliation

2.  Animateness (inanimateness)

3.  Category of state

4.  Category of aspect and the means of verbal action

1. In Turkic languages there is a constant need to correlate any name or object with a person: apam, kitebim, etc. The idea of possessing of one object be the other one expresses this category. Primordially the strive to emphasize affiliation of both animated and inanimated objects to a certain person exists in the mind of a Turkic man. Objects do not exist without concrete defining of their affiliatron. Nothing and nobody can be "ownerless". Probably, this language phenomenon representing the grammatical category of affiliation is conditioned by the social and economic bases of the life of Turkic peoples who have been living according to the laws of private property for a long period of time where the private owner was the central figure. Not a single object is thought of irrelative of the possessor. These relations were always very important in the social and economic life of the Turkic people. For a Slavonic these properties of objects are not so principle, therefore the semantic dominant of affiliation in the Russian language has not been raised to the level of grammatical generalization.

 This meaning is not systemically important for the Russian language and is expressed on the level of word combinations.Correlation of an article or an object with a person takes place only when the necessity appears to stress the fact of affiliation to a person with a help of possessive pronouns (moi, tvoi, nash, vash dom); possessive adjectives (dedov, mamin dom). And also substantives combinations (dom ottsa).

2. For the grammatical system of Turkic languages the category of causativeness is of particular importance. In other words it is called the category of compulsion which runs through the verbal system of Turkic languages. The semantics of this category is to the effect that by the special grammatical affixes the meaning of compulsion to carry out some action is expressed: djazdyr, turguz, ishtet, ichir, oynot, baylat, uktat etc. This category represents specific character of grammatical structure of Turkic languages. In our opinion this idea might be motivated from two points of view. On the one hand, the motivation is connected with the political system uncler which Turkic lived for several thousands of years in the conditions of military state units with tough system of compulsion. On the other hand, the centuries old tradition of age hierarchy connected with respect for elders and implicit obedience to them. In this hierarchy of relationship the will of the older by age or position is passed. through a mediator to a third person. Having taken root in the mentality of a Turkic man, this type of relationship could not help reflecting in the language system. Thus, in the Kyrgyz language every verb is specified from the point of view of causativeness. For native speakers of Russian this system of relations is not topical, therefore it did not receive any grammatical categorization; to pass his request through an interlocutor to a third person he will express it by descriptive structure: let that (third) person carry out this or that action.

3. All the system of Turkic languages, especially its verbal forms do not exist without their modal characteristics. Such modal characteristics as trustworthiness or untrustworthiness of action, possibility or impossibility of its realization, deliberate necessity, duty to fulfill thi.s or that action constantly accompany the verbal action and are expressed by the grammatical affixes (okurmun, kumakmyn, okumakchymyn, okumush, okugansyit, okuptur etc). In the Russian language these meanings are not grammatically significant and are expressed with a help of the modal words (veroyatno, vozmojno, obyazatekno, okazıvaetsia, etc). Psychological factor plays a great role for native speakers of Turkic languages. Even if a Turkic person is sure that an event will take place, he will not affirm it unconditionally. In our opinion there is a religious hidden motive here: a Turkic as a believer, always depends upon God. He knows that he as an ordinary mortal is not eligible to decide whether this or that event will happen or not. Even when he speaks about the event or fact which happened long ago, he is not confident of their trustworthiness without introducing clarity into them. 

 He might confirm an event only if he has witnessed it. If he hasn't, in his speech he uses a special verbal form. which represents the information on the part of another eye-witness (kuruptur, coluguptur, baryptyr, etc). When speaking about some event or fact a Turkic man would show caution, he would never take the responsibility upon himself for the information told and he is sure to refer to somebody.

4. In this paragraph we shall deal not with the grammatical category, but the specific vocabulary. The vocabulary of the Kyrgyz language is very rich in the so called "figurative words" (tostongdo, epilde, chakchangda, alangda, balpakta, etc). Among them there is a group of verbs expressing behavioral range of expression of human relations: the manner of speakers, the manner of behavior, the manner of walking, sitting, laughing.

There is also a group of words characterising a person's appearance. According do K.K.Yudakhin's dictionary there are about 1000 of them.[10] All this vocabulary reflects spoken Kyrghyz and are frequently used in the language. This group of words are indispensable in the artistic style when creating psychological and exterior portrait of heroes.

 We think that such abundance of figurative words in the Kyrgyz language testifies of such a mental trait of the people as observation: not the slightest detail of behavior or appearance of an interlocutar would escape his calm and inquisitive look. He is always a man of few works, silent and expressed his opinion about a person's essence neatly and precisely in one of the words. In the Russian language to express various personal characteristics the qualitative adverbs or adverbial participle like neuklyuje, hromaya, vperevalku etc are used.

The main typological dominant of the Russian language is its inflexional changeableness. But the language changeableness cannot be asystematic. There should be some substance for that. Gender classes are one of such grounds. They are three nominative classes, which all the system of case declension of the parts of speech refers to. "Gender classification should be regarded in the context of other classifications of collective ideas as one of the particular cases of the general definition of social phenomena characterized by arbitrariness of sign symbolization and simultaneously the necessity of its existence as a system". [6]. (This idea proceedes from E.Durkgaim's social views). For many languages and the Kyrgyz language in particular this category is irrelevant.

 2. Biological division into living beings and lifeless things in the nature is realized differently in languages. In the Russian language all the individuals of feminine, masculine and neuter gender refer to the class of living beings (grandfather, girl, sparrow, hen, child, monster, worm, caterpillar, etc). But in some Slavonic languages as Czech and Polish, the grammatical parametres of animateness refer to the nouns denoting individuals of masculine gender (Czech: student, ptak, dedecek, chlap, Kohout; Polish: syn, ojciec, pes, lew, ptaka).

 The words denoting individuals of the feminine gender refer to the lifeless objects: (Czech: studentka, babicka nolka, slepice; Polish: corka, matka).

 As for the Kyrgyz language the idea about living beings and lifeless things is based on the opposition "human being-non human being". The names of animals (dog, cat, house, wolf, tiger etc.) refer do the category of lifeless things. Besides, there are cases when children, more exactly, new-bom are fallen out of the notion "human being". The Kyrgyz usually ask "what did you give birth to? but not". Who did you give birth to?

3. For the Russian soul state of a person is of great importance. Consideration (kindness) to the inner world of a person, to his joys and emotional feelings are usually reflected in the language. This fact has been noted in Ann Vejbitsky's book "The semantics of grammar". According to her, such a distinguishing trait of the Russian character as concentration on the state of soul and feelings of a person has resulted in the abundance of verbs expressing various emotional feelings as well as in variation of the syntactical structures like: on veselitsa –emu veselo. On grustit-emu grustno.

 V.V.Vinogradov already singled out a peculiar category in the grammatical system of the Russian language which he called "The category of state". He regarded it as a grammatical category because of its peculiar semantics and " the syntactical function of the predicate in a sentence. (Devochkam skuchno. Vo rtu gorko. Mne segodnya len. Emu stydno. V komnate uyutno. Na ulitse dushno. etc).

One cannot say that it is not peculiar to a Kyrgyz to be liable to inner emotional feelings, but due do his mentality he preferably conceals his feelings and emotions.

 He would show openly neither joy nor pain, nor sorrow. It is interesting to note the situation when somebody asks him about his health, indispensable answer is "Fine", even if he is unwell at that time. It is considered to be a bad manner if he starts speaking with other people about his general state.

4. The wealth of the Russian language has been made up of verbs. A.A.Potebnya, relying on Gumboldt and Shtaintal's views, has created his original philosophy of verbal character on the Russian language. The transition front the ancient nominal structure of the sentence to verbal one was linked to the formation of the verb. The category of action, process, force, energy more and more limits the sphere of nominal categories.[8].

 The verbal essence of all Slavonic  languages including the Russian language first of all is connected with the specific category of aspect which characterizes the action of the verb from the point of view of certainty and uncertainty. This grammatical semantics divides all the verbs into two opposed forms: perfective and imperfective. This grammatical opposition exists irrespective of the category of time and on the grounds of generalized semantics of verbal certainty and uncertainty embraces all the verbal composition. This category has only recently appeared in the history of development of the Russian language being separated from the temporary paradigmatics which still at the stage of the Old Russian language was closely connected with the aspect meanings of the verbs. We suppose that the appearance of such a category of verbs in Slavonic languages has been motivated by extraordinary semantic diverse of the verbal vocabulary. To a great degree this state is linked to the prefixes which are able to express the finest shades of motion of life. The role of the prefixes was even noted by V.J.Dal and N.P.Nekrasov who considered that prefıxes "inform" the verbal action "the general colors of life", demonstrate picturesqueness,  figurativeness of presentation of action in a Russian verb as the result of freak of colors because of change of prefixes.[9]. According to the up-to-date terminology a great number of prefixal verbs are united into the so called the methods of verbal action.

 With a help of them it is possible do express picturesque range of expressian of verbal action connected with spatial orientation with different kinds of movement directions; time limitation of action from the point of view of its short duration, duration, endlessness, phase determination of action (beginning, end); shortness, repetition, periodicity of action, distribution of action in time and in space, frequency of its use (rare or intensive). (Govorit: zagovorit, pogovorit, progovorit, ugovorit, otgovorit, vygovorit, nagovorit, podgovorit, prigovorit, peregovorit, obgovorit, dogovorit, razgovorit or plakat: poplakat, zaplakat, proplakat, vyplakat, otplakat, oplakat, naplakat, vsplaknut, etc). This diversity of verbal formations increases when adding suffixal and postfixal means of the language to them: razgovoritsa, dogovoritsa, progovoritsa, progovarivatsa, progovarivat, podgovarivat, nagovorit vyplakivat, poplakivat, poplakatsa, naplakatsa, vyplakatsa, pasplakatsa, otplakivat, vsplakivat etc). And namely the aspect appeared to be that systematizing category that has brought in order great verbal "chaos", having distributed them in accordance with the shade of certainty and uncertainty. In the Kyrgyz language the character of proceeding in action is also expressed by peculiar verbal and analytical structures. But such aspects of proceeding an action can be achieved only by descriptive means.

Bibliography

1.  Vilgelm fon Gumboldt Selected works on linguistics. M., "Progress", 1984, p.345.

2.  Ibid:p47

3.  B.A.Serebrennikov. The role of human factor in the language. Language and thought. "Nauka", M., 1988, p.33.

4.  Languages of the world: The problems of language variation. -M:"Nauka", 1990. p.182

5.  Malinowski B. /The problem of primitive languages //Ogden C.K., , Bichards J.A. The meaning ofmeaning. 3-rd ed. L., 1930, p.296-336.

6.  Reference to: Meilett A. La genre feminine dans les langues indo- europeenness //Meillet A. Linguistique historique et linguistique generale. P., T.II. 1938; 25-2

7.  A.Vejbitska. Semantics of grammar.

8.  V.V. Vinogradov. The Russian language. M.-L.1947, p.423.

9.  N.P. Nekrasov. About the meanings offorms of the Russian verb. P.178-179. Reference to V.V.Vinogradov. "The Russian language", 1947, p.645.

10.  K.K.Judakhin. The 'Kyrgyz-Russian dictionary.

11. Kozlova L.A.Sociocultural model of the society and the grammatical structure of the language see. www.informika.ru









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