Academic journal article International Journal of Communication Research

Russia(n) in Context: Aspects of Metaphor in the Russian Political Discourse

Academic journal article International Journal of Communication Research

Russia(n) in Context: Aspects of Metaphor in the Russian Political Discourse

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes non-USASCII text omitted.)

In a changing world, the study of Russia(n) undergoes various patterns of reconstruction: the study of 'the other' in various political contests, the facultative/ compulsory syllabus of a predominant presence, an interest in mentalities related to Culture/ culture etc. Any of the abovementioned context brings in an interest in imagological representations and cultural stereotypes. These are studied in relation to specific languages, which, according to Wierzbicka, Apresjan have isolated the stereotypes.1

Ideally, all of the above could be carried out against the background of the study of the language per se. In practice, the language teacher is supposed to rely, increasingly, on the general human features involved, in order to attract attention to the subject. The study of metaphor offers one such motivating perspective2. For instance, one of the most common stereotypes related to Russia, the bear, appears in studies of cross-cultural communication in various spheres of human activity has been particularly focused on this metaphor summarized relatively recently, among others, by Andrea de Lazari3. The Polish specialist in cultural studies explores one of the most widely spread (self)images of Russia(n) along with other stereotypes of Russia as Siberia, alcohol excess and some folk symbols - the balalaika, samovar, matrioshka.

The study of national symbols and 'cultural constants'4 grown into stereotypes of artefacts has migrated into new fields. Cross-cultural communication and the study of western business culture in Russia, Russian business culture as well as the sometimes striking presence of the (wealthy) Russians in the Western Europe and the non-presence of Russian gas might have rekindles in interest in the subject. A list of Russian 'cultural constants' includes this animal along with other basic concepts in their Russian specific apparel: the house (dorn), nature (field - pole, step'; trees - beriozka, the birch tree); animals; artifacts.

'Cultural constants', stereotypes and metaphors function with a specific impact in political discourse. Eversince Lakoff and Johnson's seminal study (1980)5, metaphors have reentered the field of language studies. Studies of metaphor in Russia have been creative in the study of language and politics involves various aspects. Nowhere else (exept literary discourse) is the metaphor more prominent than in the political discourse.

Both basic approaches in the study of political discourse, the descriptive and the critical one, involve approach focuses on the study of political behaviour of the politicians as used by them in the process of persuasion and manipulation. Classics in the field Bourdieu and Fairclough6 have made it possible to assess problems of language as an instrument of power and unveil social discrimination expressed in discourse. As a political instrument, the study of discourse focuses on the behaviour of linguistic procedures: language manifests itself as an instrument of influence on society for the accomplishment of clearly set political objectives.

The general characteristics of political discourse govern laguage use: the intentional ambiguity coming from the density in the meanig of the discourse; the dissimulated nature of political discourse which invites one to see beyond the directly expressed and offers what the audience wishes to hear, by resorting to allusion, euphemism, cliches, shocking words, slogans; the dissimulated nature of political discourse is recalled by the obsession with the image; its imperative nature; the polemic nature.

As the main tool used by politicians in following their goals, language and correlated aspects substitute the former violent instruments of fight and grow to prominence, which explains the growing interest in the studies in this area. Political discourse analysis in Russia is mainly concerned with (1) the systematization of the scientific apparatus in use and of the methodological approach and (2) the restauration of the national tradition of discourse analysis. …

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