Mentality and Language
Become a member of TranslationDirectory.com at just
$8 per month (paid per year)
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".
important notion was first introduced by V. fon Gumboldt. .
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".. 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". . 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.. 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.
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
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,
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.
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
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". . (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,
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
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..
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.. 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.
1. Vilgelm fon Gumboldt Selected
works on linguistics. M., "Progress", 1984, p.345.
3. B.A.Serebrennikov. The role of
human factor in the language. Language and thought. "Nauka", M.,
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,
10. K.K.Judakhin. The 'Kyrgyz-Russian
11. Kozlova L.A.Sociocultural model of the society and the grammatical structure
of the language see. www.informika.ru
Submit your article!
Read more articles - free!
Read sense of life articles!
this article to your colleague!
more translation jobs? Click here!
agencies are welcome to register here - Free!
translators are welcome to register here - Free!