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Article

О любопытстве и смежных понятиях в русском языковом сознании

Бочкарев А. Е.

The article is devoted to lyubopytstvo ‘curiosity’ as a language-specific word in order to show its specific conceptual configuration in the Russian language consciousness. In this regard, the National Russian Corpus is more appropriate, because a conceptual configuration of an analyzed concept is not present in a “finished” form in any single utterance, but may be reconstructed only on the totality of all possible utterances. It can be manifested in many different ways: distribution, ability to accumulate some Russian “key ideas”, predisposition to be associated with some emotional attitudes, concepts, propositional and metaphorical models. According to the National Russian Corpus, curiosity is usually felt for everything which may be of interest, and defies the imagination: another man’s life, news and policy, death, abroad and foreigners, origins and workings of the universe, friends’ husband’s salary, danger and suspense, someone’s life stories, scientific discoveries, etc. In different contexts, curiosity is defined in relation to interest, surprise, excitement, hope, desire, idleness, sin, etc., that allow us to reconstruct some conventional situations of curiosity, as well as related feelings, acts, opinions and axiological norms, in conformity with different “conceptual schemas” of curiosity as a cognitive interest, boredom, idleness, or sin. The propositional model provides information that predicates applied to lyubopytstvo ‘curiosity’ vary with the position in the syntactic structure of the proposition. As a semantic object curiosity is felt, constrained, excited, masked, and satisfied; as a semantic subject it appears, covers, grows, and encourages. In the metaphoric mapping, lyubopytstvo ‘curiosity’ is redefined over categorical boundaries in terms of a propositional model appropriated for an inner voice, a human being, a living creature, an inevitable force, or a flammable mixture. By analogy with an inner voice it calls, tells and counsels; by analogy with a living creature it is waking up, brings out; by analogy with the beast it gnaws and bites; by analogy with an inevitable force it covers, overcomes, leads and wins; by analogy with a peculiarly flammable mixture it inflames and burns. Such use becomes so common that native speakers don’t pay more attention to metaphorical expressions like curiosity killed someone or to burn and consume oneself in curiosity but take them almost for the authentic characteristic of curiosity.