Indira A. Tukhvatullina

Semantic Classification of Metonymic Paremia in English, Russian and Tatar Languages

Indira A. Tukhvatullina

Department of Foreign Languages for Social Humanities, Institute of International Relations, Kazan Federal University, Kazan, Russia


Abstract: This article covers some types of lexical-semantic classification of paremiological units of metonymic nature in three languages: Russian, English and Tatar.

Paremiology as a philological science of the new time dates back to the XIX century. It studies proverbs and sayings which attract the attention of both folklorists and linguists who use literary and linguistic research methods. Being part of the culture of this nation, paremia always remained and remain relevant.

Metonymic proverbs and sayings are the least studied part of modern paremiology. The relevance of this work is related to the growing interest in Eastern and European languages and intercultural communication, since the paremiological units contain specific knowledge about people who speak the language, their culture and history.

Keywords: pararemia; metonymy; proverbs; sayings;

1. Introduction

The active study of proverbs began in the second half of the last century and the number of theoretical papers devoted to this problem increased. A generalizing theory was outlined, based on which one can conduct paremiological studies more specifically, from different initial positions. Famous Russian and foreign scholars, including: K. L. Allendorf, N. D. Arutyunova, V. V. Vinogradov, V. G. Gak, I. R. Galperin, V. I. Dahl, E. L Ginzburg, A. Meie, G. L. Permyakov, R. I. Jacobson, etc.

The relevance of this work lies in the fact that currently the problems of communication between different cultures and nations are being intensively studied due to the increasing importance of knowledge of Eastern and European languages. Studying the paremiology of various languages not only increases the efficiency of learning vocabulary, but also contributes to enriching the language with country-specific knowledge reflecting specific living conditions.

The aim of the research is a comparative analysis of metonymic paremia in three languages in a lexical-semantic aspect.

As the main method of research, the method of interpretational analysis with the use of systemic and comparative analysis was used, and the classification of proverbs according to lexical-semantic features is given.

2. Lexical-semantic classification of proverbs

2.1.Classification is a logical operation based on the division of a homogeneous set into its constituent elements and features.

In linguistics there has not been a unified classification of paremiological unitss, in particular proverbs and sayings. Any classification is conditional and limited, each has strengths and weaknesses. The ideal goal of science is the creation of universal classifications. At the moment there are several types of classification of paremia by lexical-semantic features.

Alphabetical classification. Paremia are placed in alphabetical order, that is, depending on the initial letters of the first word.. The advantage of this classification is its simplicity. For example, the “Dictionary of modern English proverbs and sayings” as well as the manual “English proverbs and sayings and their Russian correspondences” edited by V.S. Modestova, on the basis of which the lingua-cultural analysis was carried out.

But with this method, different versions of the same proverb, starting with different letters, fall into different places. This classification is especially inconvenient when working with translated paremia, because any proverb can be translated so that it begins with different letters. For example: Fortune favors the brave. Destiny favors the bold; Spring day year feeds. Yazgy ber kөn el tuydira.

The classification by reference words (lexical, encyclopedic) allocates the paremia according to the reference words of which the given paremia consists. However, the concept of supporting words (keywords) is, in our opinion, insufficiently defined. For example: My grandmother always repeated to me: do not fight with a strong, do not sue the rich, you will always be guilty with the rich: do not sue, do not fight because he is strong and rich, therefore you will always be guilty. In this case, the key words are not words but phrases with the strong do not fight, do not sue the rich.

Monographic classification is based on the grouping of paremia according to the place and time of their gathering and according to the collector. This is how many Russian and Tatar collections of proverbs and sayings are composed. This method of classification and publication of paremia is very convenient for studying the history of the issue, but, like the two previous ones, it absolutely does not guarantee the absence of numerous repetitions and internal disorder.

Genetic classification divides the material on the basis of origin, in particular by the languages and peoples that gave birth to it. The genetic system repeats many features of the monographic, including all its major flaws associated with the endless repetition of identical texts.

One of the most popular types of classification is the thematic classification, which distributes the paremia according to the theme of the utterance, i.e., according to their content. When classifying proverbs and sayings by subject groups, they are usually represented as antonymic pairs that express the opposite meaning. For the first time, a similar classification was used by V.I. Dahl in the collection “Proverbs of the Russian people”, which singled out one hundred and seventy-nine thematic headings for his proverbs. Given the different meanings of the same proverb, V.I. Dahl placed very often its various thematic headings.

The experience of classifying proverbs by topic is based on their real properties: each proverb has its own theme - the polysemy of proverbial judgment does not mean the absence of thematic boundaries. And it is precisely this polysemy within the theme that makes proverbs difficult to interpret.

2.2 Some results of the study

In this article an attempt to distribute proverbs and sayings according to the semantic principle was made, i.e. by value of the whole expression as a whole. The presentation of the material is based on the distribution of proverbs and sayings on certain topics. The location of proverbs and sayings by meaning, by their inner meaning, is, in our opinion, more successful. Each proverb and saying has a subject area. It is the thematic classification that most fully conveys the specifics of the national character.

You can see some examples of thematic classification in the given table:


Money/Money begets money; Деньги к деньгам идут; Акча акчаны ярата.

Labour/He that would eat the fruit must climb the tree; Терпенье и труд все перетрут; Хезмәте каты - җимеше татлы.

Penury/А light purse makes a heavy heart; Хлеба ни куска, так в горле тоска; Needs must when the devil drives; Голь на выдумки хитра; Аптырасаң аптыра - нужа юкны таптыра.

Fear/Fear always springs from ignorance; У страха глаза велики; Курку тау ашырыр

Bravery/Fortune favours the brave; Судьба благоприятствует смелым; Язмыш кыюларга ярдәм итә.

Talkativeness/Many words hurt more than swords; Слово пуще стрелы разит; Әйткән сүз - аткан ук; The tongue is not steel yet it cuts; Бритва скребет, а слово режет; Кеше сүзе кешене үтерә; Hard words break no bones.

If we compare the proverbial systems of the English, Russian and Tatar languages, then we can confidently say that they do not always have full equivalent and may differ fundamentally, as they evolved in completely different historical and socio-economic conditions. It can be said that they do not coincide to the same extent that the development conditions of these peoples do not coincide: from geographical location and climatic conditions to differences in national characters, temperaments, mentality and in the languages themselves, which all these discrepancies undoubtedly reflect. That is why there are many proverbs and sayings in Russian that have absolutely no (and objectively cannot) correspondences in the English or Tatar languages; the reverse is also true: many English proverbs and sayings do not even have approximate correspondences in the Russian and Tatar languages. Therefore, in our scientific research, different classifications were applied in identifying lexical and semantic differences.


English, Russian and Tatar belong to different language families. Paremia of these three groups appeared in different historical conditions, reflecting different socio-economic structure and cultural characteristics. All this explains why not all of the translated paremia have complete or at least partial matches in the target language.

Therefore the main criterion for identifying thematic groups was a quantitative indicator: the listed groups contain the largest number of translated paremia— about eighty percent. The need for a thematic classification is also due to the distinct projection of the national archetype in the process of identifying the conceptual content of the paremia and the lack of quantitative correspondence between the paremia and the concepts objectifying their content.


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