Introduction to Comparative Studies of Language and Culture

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The central concept of this part of the general course of comparative-contrastive study of culture through the prism of language,

with the help of language and for the better knowledge of language -- is the concept of identity. Identity can be understood as a total sum of our accumulative knowledge about ourselves, where we come from and where we do belong now, the language we speak, the habits of the heart we share with others, our vision of the past and our hopes for the better future, etc. Thus structurally the mental lexicon of IDENTITY can be represented as identity by the land, idenity by the state, identity by the personal and family name, identity by the language. At the same time -- these are very general parameters of identification. Any individual can be additionally specified in terms of temper, sense of humour, pragmatically oriented cleverness or intellectualism. More than that. As nationally shared and individually specific there are such traits as our predilection for particular national food and drink, our love for music or cats, our fear of foreigners, or our admiration for everything from remote corners of the world.

True, the picture thus outlined may seem to be rather mosaic. Still we hope that the very idea of identity will help us to unite all kinds of knowledge the students of philology get from other general and special courses to build up IDENTITY as a concept of language and culture.

The context of culture we live now in is deeply rooted in the cultural habits, traditions, knowledge of the previous generations and to study culture `horizontally' means to learn something very important about how to live in peace with those " next door". To study culture `vertically' means to learn how to live in peace with the past of your country and people, how to learn to become merciful and forgiving without being forgetful.

In his study of Christian symbolism ("Khristianskaya simvolika") first published in 1908, reprint of 2001, the count A.S. Uvarov (1825 -- 1884) writes about the importance of name acknowledged by early Christians: v epokhu rannego khristianstva imya lichnoe sluzhilo yarkim otpechatkom polozheniya litsa, nosivshego ego i vmeste s tem bilo vernim otgoloskom tekh predanij i dazhe predubezhdenij, kotorie kharakterizovali yazicheskoe obschestvo pervikh vekov khristianstva. Drevnie rimlyane gordilis' imenami kak prezhde zaslugami....Prezrenie k khristianam otrazilos' v nadgrobnikh i drugikh nadpisyakh: Importunus, Malus, Fugitivus, Calumniosus, Stercotius, etc. Otsyuda voznikla traditsiya ukrivatel'stva ot yazichnikov vazhnejshikh pravil, kasayuschikhsya 8 predmetov: tainstvo krescheniya, tainstvo miropomazaniya, tainstvo rukopolozheniya, tainstvo prichascheniya, liturgiyu, uchenie o svyatoj Troitse, Simvol Veri i molitvu Gospodnyu. (C.1 -- 6). As a result of those practices there appeared new names and special forms of self- and group identification -- the whole system of signs and symbols to be decoded by many generations to come.

PART 1. On identity
  Lecture 1. From personal identity to national identity
  Lecture 2. The country and the countrymen
  Lecture 3. Power and People as concepts of language and culture
  Lecture 4. Name of a man versus name of a country
  Lecture 5. The language of a man and the language of a country
PART 2. People and their character
  Lecture 6. The English Humour as an individual and national feature of character
  Lecture 7. Food and drink as cultural phenomena
  Lecture 8. What do people drink when they feel thirsty?
  Lecture 9. Name of a city as a national symbol
  Lecture 10. The concept of dream in Russian and English culture
PART 3. People and the world of nature
  Lecture 11. The British Isles: the dichotomy of land and water
  Lecture 12. The Islands
  Lecture 13. "Wood"and "forest" in language and culture
  Lecture 14. Fauna and Flora of the world we live in
  Lecture 15. Animals and beasts as the object of linguoculturology
  Lecture 16. England, my England. (W. E. Henley)