LINGUIST List 14.237

Thu Jan 23 2003

Diss: Socioling: Williams "Language in Culture..."

Editor for this issue: Karolina Owczarzak <>


  1. troybrant, Socioling: Williams "Language in Culture: The Conceptualization..."

Message 1: Socioling: Williams "Language in Culture: The Conceptualization..."

Date: Tue, 21 Jan 2003 13:48:23 +0000
From: troybrant <>
Subject: Socioling: Williams "Language in Culture: The Conceptualization..."

New Dissertation Abstract

Institution: Duke University
Program: Linguistics Program
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2000

Author: Troy B. Williams 

Dissertation Title: 
Language in Culture: The Conceptualization of Health in Russian
language and culture

Linguistic Field: Sociolinguistics

Subject Language: 
Russian (code: 5388)

Dissertation Director 1: Edna Andrews
Dissertation Director 2: Ron Butters
Dissertation Director 3: Naomi Quinn
Dissertation Director 4: Jehanne Gheith

Dissertation Abstract: 

Although there has been considerable scholarship on the relationship
of language to culture, an approach which integrates multiple
linguistic structures into the illumination of a given cultural
concept has been lacking. This dissertation will attempt to make a
small contribution the research by examining lexical roots, semantic
collocations and grammatical constructions used in health expressions
in contemporary standard Russian to reveal some of the more salient
aspects of the conceptualization of health in Russian culture.

The study begins with some preliminary suggestions about the
relationship between language and culture which will be carefully
considered in later chapters. It will be hypothesized that language
and culture are not distinct entities, but are part of a complex
dynamic system in which each changes and is changed by the other. In
particular, the work of cognitive anthropologists as well as that of
linguists and semioticians from the Prague school will be

The second step will be a careful examination of Russian language
scholarship on proverbs including a study of the syntactic, semantic,
and pragmatic elements of proverbs and the way that proverbs fit into
culture as a text genre directed toward the transmission and
reinforcement of cultural attitudes.

A more focused examination of health-related Russian language proverbs
will be the third step. The themes which recur in this relatively
large corpus of proverbs will be interrogated to discover how they may
illuminate Russian cultural attitudes toward health. This section
will also include the results of survey of contemporary usage of
health-related proverbs in Russian which will show an overall decrease
in usage of such proverbs, but the perseverance of many of the themes
detailed earlier. The final section will focus on Russian impersonal
constructions as they are used to express health. There is a
generally-accepted understanding that such expressions can indicate a
distancing of agency or volition from the logical experiencer of the
verb. In health-expressions, the speaker often chooses to exploit
such constructions and their concomitant distancing of agency. Many
of the themes found in the earlier discussion of proverbs are
supported by the use of this grammatical construction.
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