The Ethnic Stereotype of Tatars in Russian Linguistic Culture

By Alyokhina, Tatyana A.; Mardieva, Leyla A. et al. | Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict, January 1, 2016 | Go to article overview

The Ethnic Stereotype of Tatars in Russian Linguistic Culture


Alyokhina, Tatyana A., Mardieva, Leyla A., Shchuklina, Tatyana Ju, Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict


INTRODUCTION

In modern linguistics, language is defined as a major nationally specific phenomenon which accumulates and transfers the cultural background, traditions, world view, and the system of moral and ethical values of native speakers from generation to generation. Ethnic stereotypes are being studied actively. Each unit of language helps interpret the reality from the ethno-cultural point of view: acoustic and graphical appearance of a word [Mardieva 2014], the morpheme as its minimal significant part [Fatkhutdinova 2014], its usual reproducible combinations [Fedorova, Fattakhova 2015; Bochina, Miftakhova 2014], and categories of grammar [Murzina, Hayrutdinova 2015]. However, ethnonyms are especially important from the cultural and symbolic point of view because these elements within the system are inseparably linked to the ethnic groups and enduring stereotypes existing in the minds of other peoples and nations.

Among various ethnonyms in the Russian language, the ethnonym "Tatars" is perhaps one of the most difficult to comprehend. On the one hand, it is ambiguous; on the other, its systemic meaning (as reflected in lexicographical sources of different types) is complicated with additional meanings and connotations determined by the historical memory of the Russian people. The last semantic layer of the word Tatars, designated in our research work as ethnic stereotypes, presents the subject for the study and discussion. Ethnic stereotypes are understood as generally accepted, stable, often preconceived value judgments about the cognitive and psychological characteristics, mental and physical qualities, the external appearance of people and their cultures. There is a long tradition of studying the ethnonym Tatars, among other approaches, from the linguistic point of view. It has also frequently been the subject of thematic studies [Baksakov 1969, Zakiev 2006, Bushakov 1996 etc.]. However, authors have previously focused on the denotative level of word semantics, while the semantic layers determined by the historical memory of the Russian people, the cultural and historical traditions of cooperation between these two nations (i.e. linguocultural information) have not been the subject of a special study yet.

METHODS

Language is the main source, as well as means of building ethnic stereotypes, because "there is nothing so deep, sophisticated and integral in a human being that doesn't enter into the language and that is not cognized through it" [Humboldt, 1984: 57]. The major methodological principle of our study is to view stereotypes - including ethnic unconscious archetypes - as rooted in mythological oppositions, in particular, in the dichotomy of "us" and "them"[Mardieva 2014: 635].

L.P. Krysin has suggested that the study of ethnic stereotypes involves two approaches. Firstly, it is important to discover which aspects of life and personal features (intellectual, psychological, or anthropological) of the stereotyped group undergoes evaluation. Secondly, modern researchers have to define specific linguistic units which reflect ethnic stereotypes [Krysin 2005: 450]. In the latter case, it would be more productive to reveal non-systemic layers (not included into the dictionaries) that are reproduced in the language of this people on a regular basis.

The source base of our research includes proverbs and sayings, as well as fragments of literary and non-fiction texts extracted from the database of the National Corpus of the Russian Language [http://www.ruscorpora.ru], which reflect stereotyped representation of the ethnic group related with the ethnonym Tatars in the Russian linguistic consciousness.

RESULTS

Ethnonym tatars and its lexicographic presentation

Most modern dictionaries of the Russian language include two basic definitions of this lexical unit: 1. The nation, the main population of the Republic of Tatarstan // The representatives of this people. 2. The name for various Turkic, Mongolian, and other tribes united in the 13 th - 15thcenturies within a single state - the Golden Horde [Concise Academic Dictionary 2000: 342]. …

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