At present, taking into account global social changes, progress in all spheres of life, national issues have become the most acute. The relevance of national issues is explained by the belonging of each person to a particular nation, which is directly reflected in all human activity.
Scientists pay special attention to the problems of the relationship between language and culture, language and mentality of a particular people, which makes it possible to identify the specifics of linguistic self-expression, to determine the source of national originality of cultural phenomena. As you know, the language embodies the collective experience of generations of a particular people, the history of its development. Language is a kind of collective product of national heritage, culture, and creativity. National images of the world are embodied in national pictures of the world.
Despite the unity of the universe, each nation interprets the surrounding reality in its own way, taking into account the characteristics of the geographical environment, natural landscape, social conditions of life in a particular territory, which, in turn, is reflected in the national language. According to Kornilov O.A. , the national language can be considered as a national language picture of the world. The national language is not only one of the code systems for communication and storage of information, but also a unique result of the mental-emotional and spiritual creativity of a particular ethnic group, its collective body of self-knowledge of its own culture against the background of the space-time continuum.
The national image of the world, the national-cultural features of the perception of the world by representatives of one or another ethno-cultural community are reflected in the semantic structure of linguistic signs. Most clearly, the specificity of the worldview of the speakers of a particular language is reflected in the semantics of phraseological units, proverbs, sayings, those linguistic units that are the concentration of the cultural and historical experience of the people.
The national and cultural specificity of the phraseological layer of the language lies in the fact that these linguistic units in a special way reflect the conceptual picture of the world as a whole. The phraseological system carries rich historical, social and cultural information. In the language, figurative expressions are phraseologized, which are associated with stereotypes, concepts, patterns, norms that are characteristic of a particular linguocultural community.
The collective memory of the people, the psychology of the people is transmitted from generation to generation through spiritual culture. According to Ivanova M.G. , ethnic national psychology is a component of public consciousness and includes mental traits and properties, the totality of which is denoted by the concepts of “mental makeup of the nation” or “national character”.
Each nation is characterized by a special stereotype of character, which develops over the course of its historical development. A nation creates its own collective ideas – beliefs, norms, settings and values which are typical for a particular linguocultural society. Such phenomena are so called cultural and ethnic dominants which are reinforced in phraseology .
In the phraseological units denoting the internal characteristics of a person, the primary features of the English national character are embodied. For instance: as cool as a cucumber that means “imperturbable, not losing his composure”. This phraseological comparison is probably based on the fact that in hot weather, the contents of the product are much cooler than the air temperature) . Consolidation of the stone component in phraseological units ‘as cold as stone’, ‘as hard as stone’ as the basis for comparison is associated with the previous living conditions of the ethnic group. Fortresses and castles were built of stone, cold and inaccessible, as, incidentally, their inhabitants themselves. It is no coincidence that at present there is a certain stereotype, the stereotype of “cold Englishmen”, which gives a general idea of the main features of the ethnos.
Coldness, restraint is manifested in the fact that the English picture of the world negatively evaluates the excessive manifestation of emotions. A stereotype of behavior prescribes strict control of emotions. A high level of self-control is that dominant characteristic of English society :
to set one’s face like granite (flint); as steady (solid) as a rock.
Closeness, laconic speech, rigid thematic regulation of communication in most situations are directly reflected in a number of phraseological comparisons. For instance:
as stiff as a poker;
as straight as a ramrod (post);
as rigid as steel;
as stiff as a post.
The idea of private life, the idea of individuality is reflected in the assessment of relationships between people, based on stereotypical ideas about the standards and attitudes in English society. Stereotypes, according to Karavayeva D.N. , despite their conditional nature, have serious potential and can be a part of self-consciousness.
Сharacteristic features of speech activity is presented in English proverbs. Taking into account the nature of the manifestation of a person’s verbal activity, general and culturally-specific features of proverbial judgments are revealed. One of the features of speech activity in English society is laconicism, as a manifestation of tact. The inner image of proverbs is based on situations that disrupt the normal course of human life. For instance: The tongue talks at the head’s cost.
As Zueva T.A claims , synonymous and antonymic connections are the most common types of paradigmatic connections in the proverbs and sayings that verbalize the concept. Although truth is the norm for the people and falsehood is deviation, proverbs have been found to justify the latter. For instance:
Better speak truth rudely than lie covertly;
He that falls into the dirt, the longer he stays there the fouler he is;
A liar is not believed when he tells the truth;
Liars should have good memories.
Tell enough lies about a person and some of them will be believed.
The problem of the relationship between lies and truth is an eternal problem that worries different peoples at all times. The concept of lies has a dual, two-faced character. We know that sometimes lies are good. For instance: Better a lie that heals than the truth that wounds.
Flattery is halfway between lying and praising. In folk sayings, the eloquence of the flatterer, his servility is emphasized: As a wolf like a dog, so is a flatterer like a friend.
Mental attitudes of a particular ethnic group affect the perception of a person’s appearance. A figurative description of appearance by means of phraseological comparisons is given in the norms and rules due to the characteristics of a particular culture. In English phraseological units, both positive and negative qualities of a person’s appearance are expressed. Most common comparison type is comparison with things of objective reality. For instance:
to feel like a boiled (wet) rag;
as limp as a rag; like a log;
as hard as nails;
broad as a barrel; as thin as a lath (a rail);
as sound as a bell;
built like a brick.
When characterizing body shape, the British tend to adhere to the principle of political correctness. Although lately it has become indecent to be fat. So, the phraseological comparison plump as a partridge contains a negative connotation, focusing on overly curvy body shapes.
When describing the appearance, in particular of clothing, in the UK, special attention is paid to a person’s ability to keep it clean. For instance:
neat as a pin (a new pin);
as clean as a whistle;
to look like smth. the cat has brought in.
The mythologized and religious nature of linguistic consciousness in the past affected the semantics of phraseological units describing the external characteristics of a person: to look like a ghost; to look like the wrath of God; as white as a ghost.
The frame of a person’s intellectual quality is built as an image of a concentrated, understanding or non-understanding human face. The ethnocultural specificity of intellectual assessment based on the material of the English language is observed in the effectiveness of mental activity.
For the British, a sign of speed of consideration is relevant: as smart as paint; as smart as a whip; mind like a steel trap; to know better than that (than to do smth). Sober calculation, insight, composure have always been characteristic features of English diplomacy. For instance: to have a mind as sharp as a razor; as clever as a cartload of monkeys.
A positive evaluative connotation is typical for phraseological units with the meaning “mind, knowledge”: wise as a serpent; to be like a walking encyclopedia; as solemn as an owl; to know smb, smth as one knows his ten fingers. As a result of the antinomy of mental abilities, phraseological units are often found containing components with the meaning of stupidity and mental deviations. So, the following phraseological units are characterized by a negative evaluative connotation: as silly as goose (sheep); as silly as a two-bob watch, as a wheel; as stubborn as a mule; as obstinate as a donkey; as light as a butterfly; as dense as a pig.
This group also includes proverbial expressions. For instance:
Better fed than taught;
Better untaught than ill taught.
In assessing the intellectual activity of a person, the conversational style is often used. Compare: Have a head like a sieve (about a distracted, unconscious person); like a bump on a log; to have a mind like a sewer.
A wide range of phraseological social assessments is represented in folk speech for concepts that reveal human mental anomalies. In a number of phraseological units, the presence of the “fool” component with a pronounced negative evaluative seme is noted:
No fool like an old fool;
To stare at smth like a booby;
Better be a fool than a knave.
The conceptual sphere “Social relations” is composed of phraseological units, in the dictionary definitions of which there is an indication of the diverse and multifaceted relations connecting the members of society. These relationships are assessed in terms of a person’s self-esteem, and in terms of his assessment of others.
Belonging to one or another collective has a certain impact on the socialization of the individual. The formation of personality is greatly influenced by the national and cultural characteristics of a particular society. The diversity of human activities is a significant sign of the socialization of society.
The substantive minimum of the concept of “work” is expressed as a purposeful activity that requires physical or mental stress. The model of the concept “labor” is built on the basis of a frame, in the center of which is the image of a person doing a certain job.
Among phraseological comparisons, there is a significant layer of units associated with physical work. First of all, these include phraseological units based on comparison with animals: to work like an ox; to work like a horse; to work like a cart-horse; to work like a dog; to work like a beast; busy as a beaver, to work like a beaver. The meanings of these lexical units follow from comparison with physical labor, moreover, labor performed by animals. As Tarbeeva points out, physical labor on earth is perceived as the hardest, and that modern work is still associated with hard physical labor .
It is important to note that the British are not particularly enthusiastic about work. The origins of this attitude to this kind of activity are not difficult to understand. At the upper rungs of the social ladder, it is inherited from the aristocracy, for which labor was not a necessity. And then, due to the peculiarities of the British class system, this attitude spread to the whole society. The hallmark of belonging to the middle class (as opposed to the working class) was the practice of mental labor. And while the blue-collar is paid more than the white-collar, this social preference has hardly changed. Less than half of all workers are now engaged in manual labor.
Yet the image of the British as not very hardworking people is deceiving. The British may not like to work too much, but they work a lot. The working week in Britain is one of the longest in Europe. The lunch break takes one hour or less. The country has relatively few holidays and relatively short vacations. For the inhabitants of Western Europe, utilitarian signs of labor productivity are essential, living according to the principle – “we work for ourselves”. Compare: like master, like land; as is the workman, so is the work.
Phraseological vocabulary is closely connected with the main human activity – professional. The sphere of phraseological development involves the names of long-known and widespread professional occupations of a person in the spheres of physical and mental labor. For instance: as sober as a judge; as if one were confessing to the priest; drunk like a fiddler; as fat as an alderman; as grave as a judge; like a tailor’s dummy; creditors have better memories than debtors; like a peasant; like mistress, like maid.
Being an essential point in the organization of human society, social status is, to one degree or another, fixed in the semantics of phraseological units that characterize social relations, general and specific characteristics of human behavior.
Britain is a country of traditions, and one of the strongest traditions is the monarchy, and its inhabitants are officially “subjects of Her Royal Majesty”. The names of persons by social status as part of phraseological comparisons reflect the social structure of England. The phraseology zone involves the names of high socially significant statuses and titles. For instance:
to feel like a queen (a princess);
as rich as a king;
to be treated like a king, to live like a king (a queen).
as a high-born damsel;
to live like a lord (a prince), to treat smb. like a lord;
to feel like royalty;
to feel like a queen returning from exile.
As part of phraseological comparisons, there are also the names of common statuses, positions of the lowest level of the social hierarchy: to work like a skivvy; drunk like a piper; to work like a galley slave; to die like a beggar (a tramp); like a thief in the night; to agree like pickpockets; to work like a navy.
Speech is an essential component of role behavior. Each social role corresponds to a certain type of speech behavior, characterized by national and cultural marking. Most British people are socially determined by the way they speak. Compare: to lie like a trooper; to swear like a trooper; to swear like a sailor; to swear like a soldier; to swear like a fish wife. In phraseological units, the names of the once existing professions have been preserved to this day: to swear like a bargee; like a lamplighter .
As we can judge from the examples, in the sphere of phraseology, the names of a person’s professional occupations, positions, titles, titles, social statuses, which are an essential part of the people’s life, are widely used.
The figurativeness of phraseological comparisons has a certain social connotation that evokes ideas about various social and professional groups. Social conditioning in the formation of a positive or negative assessment in phraseological comparisons is noted by a recognized attitude to the named profession or social status. So, representatives of a certain occupation are endowed with exclusively negative qualities: a navy, a fiddler, a piper, a trooper. In contrast, components such as a lord, a king, and a prince are associated with ideas about the superiority and exclusivity of the individual.
Thus, social and social status, characteristics of the state and appearance, temperament and intellectual capabilities, addictions and behavior – everything that distinguishes a person from others, that contains his inner essence, receives a well-aimed figurative characteristic in folk speech. The diversity of social types and the versatility of a person are fully expressed in the national linguistic picture, the context of which makes it possible to reveal not only linguistic, but also ethical folk tradition. The language stores expressions that convey ethnic stereotypical representations of the past, which are based on images, models, and following them becomes a prerequisite for the social life of the collective. The national specificity of the worldview of a certain ethnic community is determined by the way of life and psychology of the people, as well as the semantic structure of language units (phraseological units, set expressions, proverbs, etc.). The national and cultural originality of these units is explained by the specificity of the reflection of the conceptual picture of the world. It is precisely those figurative expressions that are associated with ethno-cultural stereotypes, concepts, norms, settings, etc. that are fixed and phraseologized in the language.
In conclusion, we consider it necessary to emphasize that in each culture, the picture of the world is built from a number of various concepts that enter into special relationships with each other, which forms the national worldview.
This research is funded by the Science Committee of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Grant No. AP09259233).