I.I.Modebadze                                                                                                                                     # 9

National Language Image of the World
and the Process of the Merging of the Cultural Language Borders

 For native speaker the mother tongue represents a form of the conceptualization of the world, characteristic for the given culture. The system of values, created within the culture, has its reflection in the language. Moreover, according to W. von Humboldt, each language reflects some definite worldview. Consequently ‘to the extent perception and activities of a person depend on his views’; person’s attitude towards “objects” is completely defined by the language [see: Гумбольдт 1956: 184]. The same can be said about the famous statement of H. G. Gadamer ‘the tradition in which we live’, as it comes from the correspondence of Gadamer with V. Malakhov, implies, first of all ‘linguistic tradition’. Namely V. Malakhov comments the thesis in the following way: ‘Our reasoning and superstitions are determined by the language we think at. That means that, firstly, our thoughts – at pre-predication level – are defined by the inner structures of the native language. Secondly, our reasoning – ‘the experience of reasoning’ is determined by ‘the experience of the language’ – by the history of the culture created in that language’ [see: Малахов 1999:3]. Similarly, according to the so called Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, language and mode of thinking are closely interconnected. As ‘there are no symbols before the speaking man, though the symbol itself has much deeper roots; and the language is the instrument where the universe, desires, imagination find their expression; we inevitably need a word to reproduce the world and make it sacred’ [see: Рикёр 1995:19], the cultural values, ideals, guidelines, the opinion of a man about the universe and its role in this universe find their realization in the language: the language reflects the fundamental values of the given culture and at the same time forms them. Thus, for the native speaker the mother language represents a form for the conceptualization of the world, characteristic for that given culture.

For understanding this aspect of the human culture, some lexical unites represent ‘Priceless clues’as A. Wierzbicka puts it. ‘Key words – the words which are extremely important and meaningful for the given culture’ [Вежбицкая 2001:35]. From this we may conclude that the accumulated experience somehow is encoded in the language. For example, C. Geertz gives to the notion of ‘culture’ the following definition ‘historically transferred model of notions, put in symbols, as a system of inherited conceptions, that are expressed by means of symbols, through which people communicate with each other and based on which their knowledge about life and their attitudes are formed [see: Clifford 1979:89].

During the extreme periods, when histories shake, or sometimes when existing systems of values, consciousness even collapse, the reason striving to secure it, always resorts to eternal models [see: Толкотт  2000]. As the process of any type of mythmaking (among them national, political and etc.) develops on the sub-conscious level and is fixed with the traditions, in respect of Georgian – Russian relationship, which has centuries' long orthodox cultural traditions – we talk about some definite morale values. These values are embodied not only in relevant cultural archetypes and archetypical images, but are fixed in the language itself as well. Linguistic data confirm the influence of religious consciousness on the language while forming the fundamental landmarks for the system of values and basic morale guidelines for the bearers of the certain type of cultural conscience.

A number of undertaken by us studies have displayed that the use of relevant methods of analyses in regard to the definite layers of lexis can facilitate to the decoding of principles of mentality of studied culture, specific features of cultural orientation and finally to modeling the versions of socio-cultural behavior of its bearers.

Particularly, the system of values, worked out in the cultures, that has been formed within the common Orthodox paradigms of the Christian mentality (such as Georgian and Russian) not only coincide with each other in designation of fundamental values, but the coding of basic notions – basic values, – in relevant national languages, happens within the frameworks of common symbolic system. Registered in the figurative-symbolic form, they are granted to a bearer of the given language from the birth, and it effects the formation of his worldview on sub-conscious level. Very often they pose as key words of the cultural code, some kind of marking system for designating the boundaries of the system of values. Discovery of such words in common semantic field and later their decoding (discovery of their genesis and interconnection of notions, reconstruction of their mythological symbolic, i.e. decoding of formula, which facilitated to the transmission of valuable information) seems to be one of the most prospective methods for studying national cultural code [see: Модебадзе 2005; მოდებაძე 2004].

As ‘the method of naming a certain phenomenon or notion, the method of expression of relationships in the language, inevitably leads to ideological trends, which in their way facilitate to familiarization of this phenomenon or relationship with the previous experience in societies with different conditions and world vision’ [see: Абаев 1948]. In this respect particular importance acquires the very layer of the language in which the traces of metaphorical interpretation of the fundamentals of world vision characteristic to a certain national culture (which after all comprise the foundation of the decoded in the language –national picture of the world), are preserved the most vividly.

Mythological mode of thinking – is the sphere of knowledge which approximates to the understanding of ancient languages, on which the first editions of holy script were written. Majority of the Church representatives are against the creation of new ‘modern’ versions of the Holy Scripts due to the fact that the ancient languages are more polysemantic and figurative than modern languages. ‘New languages are primarily directed to the reason of the men – to its analytical ability, which is poorer in comparison with the spiritual intuition. Nobody denies that they can express emotional-sensory, passionate state of a man, but for expression of the spiritual state which is most vividly displayed in the prayers, new languages seem bloodless and feeble, as muscles of an old man, - explains the Archimandrite Raphael. […]- The ecclesiastic language is nearer to the inner logos – the language of the spirit, the language of ecclesiastical intuition and spiritual contemplation, than modern languages. This is not the language of the reason but of the heart, the language of insight vision, the language of intensive spiritual energy and peculiar dynamics. Ancient languages trigger in the soul of a man some kind of distant ‘recollection’ about the lost ability to transfer his feelings via thoughts, ability to understand the other soul and perceive the illumination from the God.[…] An ancient language is nearer to the inner logos, and that’s why it enjoys the most powerful influence over a person. […] a man recollects about the lost paradise and about the language to which all living beings obeyed, the language he used while talking with angels. Here’s the mystic of the language’ [Архимандрит... 1999: 363-364].

As we see our topic is not just about the language itself (some definite, national language), but about the mode of thinking, types of communication, differing in degree of translating and understanding the information (information, expressed in ancient languages, is directed towards spirituality – the information of modern languages are mainly directed towards the reason of the recipient). In this case we can not rule out the possibility that under the influence of ‘mystic of the language’ (the works of the different level of perception) older symbol turns out to be more polysemantic for perception.

The reconstruction of old symbolic notions of lexical layers, that are interesting for us, acquire greater importance when considering the registered system of values in languages, which similar to the Georgian language, managed to carry throughout the centuries  and preserve in the active lexis considerable number of words, that simultaneously belong to the old language lexis too. Such reconstruction gives us the possibility to talk about the changes in the hierarchy in the evaluating matrix of archetypical notion-symbols, expressing the most significant moral and aesthetic categories.   

According to the definition of G. Duby, mentality – ‘is a system (precisely a system) in movement, thus becoming the subject of history, at the same time all its elements are tightly interconnected; this is a system of images, conceptions which in different groups or countries (which in their own turn comprise social formation) are differently interpreted, but always lay in the foundation of human understanding of world and his/her role in this world and consequently determine the behavior and deeds of people [Дюби 1991: 52]. Studied differences in word formation of Georgian and Russian languages are the clear verification of the validity of G. Duby’s definition, when he characterizes the mentality as a mobile system. As for the explanations of noted differences in aggregation with the basic archetypical notion-symbols, it seems that we should look for them in the history of mentality of Georgian and Russian nations, who although belong to one and the same context of Christian culture, have chosen individual routs to it. The accomplished analysis proves that differences in additional connotations are the relicts of the pre-Christian experience, the differences in aggregation with the basic archetypical notion-symbols, the difference in their further transformations are the basic indicators of specifics of functioning of this system in every national culture.

Thus the system of values, worked out in cultures and formed within the frameworks of common paradigms of Christian mentality, not only comply with each other in determining the fundamental values, but the very coding of basic system of values – the guidelines of the fundamental values – in corresponding national languages also proceed within the frameworks of the common symbolic system. Given in the notion-symbolic form, they are presented to the individual involved in the context of the native language from the very birth and has decisive role in the formation of fundamental theses of his worldview, on the sub-conscious level. Very often these guidelines of the fundamental values at the same time are the key words of the cultural code, a certain identification codes of polar borders of the value system of national cultures; and the key to the decoding the national peculiarities of the mentality of nations, belonging to common Christian cultural paradigm, lies in the correlation of historical peculiarities of their formation.

The traditions are used as the defense mechanism for preserving the formed, stable systems of values. Studying their functioning /dying out/ in the contemporary society, gives us the possibility to judge the existing system of guidelines for the fundamental values in the system of hierarchies, for evaluating array of changes (from the extreme negative to ideal).

The process of dissolution of the cultural boundaries under the conditions of sweeping globalization of the mankind (which demands from the individual prompt responds to the accelerated cultural changes and their adoption), is accompanied with the intrusion of enormous number of terminologies in the actual and common language vocabulary. These terminologies are connected with the new activities and with the certain forms of the social being. These lexical unites, particularly the latter, carry some additional connotations, characteristic for the system of values of the culture, from where the unities had originated. Sometimes these values are different from the determined hierarchy of fundamental system of values. The accelerated process of their assimilation by the national culture, with centuries old traditions, may aggravate cultural confrontation and sometimes even provoke explosive processes in some cultures individually.

A number of surveys indicate that on the word formation level, these processes have been differently manifested in different languages. Namely if in the Russian language the tendencies of transformation/change of lexical unities is clear (phonetic changes, changes within the paradigms of case grammar and etc.) and involves the fashion of ‘word creation’, which in its turn gives the basis to talk loudly about the problem of preserving the purity of the Russian language, for the Georgian language (where the subjects concerning the preservation of the purity also enjoys hot discussions), if the words are taken from the European languages (basically having English roots), we mainly encounter with the direct adoption.

All these processes found their reflection in the specifications of contemporary literary style: in contemporary Georgian literature these lexical unities more often have the form of foreign language insertions, having preserved their graphic writing in the native language. The same is observed in the spoken language: while pronouncing a certain ‘popular’ word they always try to reproduce all phonetic sounds in the original language. And even as the process of assimilation is accomplished in the accelerated temps, nevertheless all its stages are vividly identified and can be used both as the indicators of the geopolitical situation, as guidelines in defining political, economic and national values.

On the other hand, the tendency (although it is less manifested today than it was earlier) of loaning from Russian or through Russian language is also preserved, as for example. [r i s k i/ r i s k e b i]*. Notwithstanding the fact that this term has been introduced in the language not long ago, it is widely used within financial circles.

As a rule, new lexical unities have distinct connotations and are divided into two basic groups according to their functional meaning. The first one is – generally accepted (international) expressions, that acquire the character of transliterated expressions, denoting new concepts – marks of the changed reality under the process of globalization; the second is – introduction into the actual spoken language foreign ‘clones’ (as a rule having the polysemantic meaning) in some concrete expressions and clearly differentiating them in meaning from the relevant word in the mother language. 

In our opinion, the process of dissolution of the language boundaries and changes accompanying this process, taking place in the life of the modern language (the changes concerning the usage of number of lexical unities), also reflect the basic tendencies of the oscillation – the change of the system of values in our society. Their study under the given aspect (from the one hand the natural process of dating of some lexical unities and their transfer from the general usage into the obsolete vocabulary, and enrichment of the language with new lexical unities as well as the ways and the velocity of their penetration into the language) seems rather prospective direction of studies, which can facilitate to the definition of  the basic tendencies in changes, that take place in our society, through their reflection in the ideo-semantic language fields, as well as working out practical measures for neutralizing possible negative effects, which as a rule accompany similar processes.


Clifford 1979: G.Clifford. Meaning and order in Moroccan society. Cambridge University Press, 1979. Цит. по: А.Вежбицкая. Понимание культур через посредство ключевых слов. М., 2001, P. 43.

მოდებაძე 2004: ი. მოდებაძე. უძღები შვილის დაბრუნება“: ქრისტიანობა და მარქსიზმი (მასობრივ ცნობიერებაში მომხდარი მემკვიდრეობითი ტრანსფორმაციის საკითხი) – ჟ. „სჯანი“, 2004, P. 171-175;

ი. მოდებაძე. ეროვნული კულტურული კოდის შესწავლისათვის – კრებ.: დისციპლინათაშორისო კონფერენციის „ეროვნული და ეროვნული და სარწმუნოებრივი იდენტობის“ (National Multidisciplinary Conference National and Religious Identities October 4-10) მასალები, 2004. თბ., 2004, P. 44-45; ი. მოდებაძე. ი. მოდებაძე. ეროვნული კულტურული კოდი – ჟ. „კრიტერიუმი“,  №11-12, 2004, P.45-49;

Абаев 1948: В.И. Абаев. Понятие идеосемантики. Язык и мышление. XI, М.-Л., 1948 – Цит. по: Н. Кипиани. В.И. Абаев: идея «малой» и «большой семантики» // «Кавказский вестник», №3, 2001, Тб., P. 171.

Архимандрит... 1999: Архимандрит Рафаил. Христианство и модернизм. М., 1999.

Вежбицкая 2001: А.Вежбицкая. Понимание культур через посредство ключевых слов. М., 2001.

Гумбольдт 1956: В.Гумбольдт. О различии в строении человеческих языков и его влиянии на духовное развитие человеческого рода // Хрестоматия по истории языкознания XIX-XX вв. М., 1956.

Дюби 1991: Ж. Дюби. Развитие исторических исследований во Франции после 1950 г. // Одиссей. Человек в истории. Культурно-антропологическая история сегодня. М., 1991.

Малахов 1999: Вл. Малахов. Герменевтика и традиция. Традиция, в которой мы не живем // «Логос» №1 (1999) 11.

Модебадзе 2005: И.И. Модебадзе «Одержимость», «диссоциация личности» и «стабильность общества» (христианская ментальность, психоанализ и социо-культурные процессы)Грузинская русистика (литературоведение, лингвистика, культурология). Сб. научных трудов. Тб., ТГУ, 2005, P. 252-301;

Рикёр 1995: Поль Рикёр. Конфликт интерпретаций. Очерки по герменевтике. М., 1995.

Толкотт  2000: Парсонс Толкотт. О структуре социального действия.  М., 2000.


* The nominative case (singular/plural) created according to Georgian Grammar rules, from the Russian world “Risk”.



Volume 3, issue 1


Rustaveli Institute of Georgian Literature

Georgian Electronic Journal of Literature