Peculiarities of mental and cultural features of English proverbs and sayings containing absolute realities

The definition of the nature and content of the national-cultural semantics of mentality. The features reflection of the material, spiritual and a social values in English Proverbs and sayings. Ways of formation of toponyms in the English language.

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Proverbs are a good material to introduce features of national character, because they reflect originality, history and experiences of people of the ethno linguistic group and their knowledge of reality. Proverbs and sayings are an integral part of the process of mastering a foreign language. Language training should take place in the conditions of the real using of the language or should imitate these conditions as precisely as possible. Proverbs and sayings have been using in the educational process for a long time.

They help to express the same thought by different words, they are irreplaceable in the mastering dialogical and monological speech, making it alive, colorful and acute. In mental concept among all the variety and richness of its poetical significance and form it is difficult to find more interesting and researchable genre than proverbs and sayings. It was the subject of deep study of scientists in most different ideological branches.

Most of the scientists agreed that the proverbs are the mirror of national soul. Where was not only the person's point of view but also general people's outlook is expressed. Proverbs and sayings play important role in language. They give emotionality, expressiveness to the speech.

They have certain pure linguistic features that must always be taken into account in order to distinguish them from ordinary sentences. Proverbs are brief statements showing uncondensed form of the accumulated life experience of the community and serving as conventional practical symbols for abstract ideas. They are usually didactic and image bearing. Many of them become very polished and there is no extra word in proverbs and sayings.

Summarizing above mentioned information the following definition can be given to a proverb: It is a short, meaningful has the rhythmic organization in poetic style - which people had created for centuries in their social and historical life.

By the New Oxford Dictionary, reality, in everyday usage, means "the state of things as they actually exist". The reality - objects or phenomena of the material culture, ethno-national characteristics, customs and historical facts. In this work we included realities which mean general nouns: names of people, geographical objects and material culture. Realities could help us to recognize the spiritual life of nation through the proverbs and sayings.

The aim of scientific work:

- To analyze peculiarities of English proverbs containing realities which reflect cultural features;

- To identify the usage of realities in English mental concept.

The tasks of scientific work:

- To find out the proverbs and sayings with the absolute realities (names of people, geographical objects and material culture);

- To define the basic concepts: reality, proverb and saying, mentality and culture;

- To highlight the features of proverbs and sayings with realities.

The methods of scientific work:

- Semantically analysis;

- Synchronically analysis.

Hypothesis: It is hypothesized that some proverbs in English language reflect the mental and cultural features of nation through the reality units.

Result: English proverbs reflect the cultural and mental features of English people, because every proverb had its own specific meaning, which express the picture of the world of English people. Also, we analyzed that proverbs and sayings have been developing together with the history of the people.


Mentality - the way of thinking, attitude, spiritual disposition inherent to the group. In philosophy, cultural studies and journalism is usually used to describe the characteristics of people and culture.

Mentality - complex and multifaceted manifestation of mental activity of social individuals, including both conscious and unconscious, the specific relationship between the rational and emotional fulfillment in their actions, the quest for innovation and preservation of the cultural potential of the past.

Mentality - is the ideological matrix, the picture of the world in the human mind and its refinement into this picture.

It is a standard view of the world around us. Features of the mentality are, for example - intuitionism, rationalism, colors, family images, lyricism, etc.

The term "mentality" initially appeared in psychological science in the first third of the XX century, and firstly was introduced in ethnology and history, and then brought into the sphere of psychological knowledge and was the most heavy term used in the psychology of large groups.

Mentality developed through socialization of large human communities, united by the same social status, national unity, territorial concentration of fact. Specialists - psychologists in the mindset and mentality of stress, say:

Reflecting the specifics of the psychological life of the people, the mentality is revealed through the system of beliefs, judgments, standards, and states of mind, based on the available knowledge in a given society and beliefs, and defining, together with the prevailing needs and the archetypes of the collective unconscious hierarchy of values, and hence the characteristic of the members of this community of beliefs, ideas, inclinations, interests, attitudes, etc. to distinguish the specified community from others. The reflected consciousness of the relationship between the phenomena of reality, and the assessment of these phenomena are actually quite fully documented in a language that is by virtue of that objects of analysis in the study of mentality.

By treating cognitive personality, mentality is most clearly manifest in the typical behavior of the representatives of this culture, to express the stereotypes of behavior, which is closely adjacent to the stereotypes of decision-making, meaning in practice the choice of one of the behavioral alternatives.

Here we should distinguish those standard forms of social behavior that are borrowed from the past and are called customs and traditions and also as stable features of the behavior of an individual referred to his personality traits.

Typical behavior characteristic of the representatives of a specific community, allows us to describe the features of national or public nature, folding in a national or social type, which is a simplified schematic form and appears as a class or ethnic stereotype (A.V. Petrovsky).

Culture is a powerful human tool for survival, but it is a fragile phenomenon. It is constantly changing and easily lost because it exists only in our minds. Our written languages, governments, buildings, and other man-made things are merely the products of culture.

Culture is a modern concept based on a term first used in classical antiquity by the Roman orator, Cicero: "cultura animi".

The term "culture" appeared first in its current sense in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, to connote a process of cultivation or improvement, as in agriculture or horticulture.

In the 19th century, the term developed to refer first to the betterment or refinement of the individual, especially through education, and then to the fulfillment of national aspirations or ideals. In the mid-19th century, some scientists used the term "culture" to refer to a universal human capacity.

For the German sociologist Georg Simmel, culture referred to "the cultivation of individuals through the agency of external forms which have been objectified in the course of history". In the 20th century, "culture" emerged as a central concept in anthropology, encompassing the range of human phenomena that cannot be attributed to genetic inheritance. Specifically, the term "culture" in American anthropology had two meanings:

1) the evolved human capacity to classify and represent experiences with symbols, and to act imaginatively and creatively;

2) the distinct ways that people living in different parts of the world classified and represented their experiences, and acted creatively.

Hoebel describes culture as an integrated system of learned behavior patterns which are characteristic of the members of a society and which are not a result of biological inheritance.

Distinctions are currently made between the physical artifacts created by a society, its so-called material culture and everything else, the intangibles such as language, customs, etc. that are the main referent of the term "culture".



Proverbs - collective and conceptualized texts which are accumulated over the centuries of observation and experience of everyday life.

Their social focus and the main thrust is reflected in the proverb "Proverbs are the wisdom of the streets".

These texts are created and used for the transmission of folk wisdom concerning the well-known truths and basic moral qualities (good and evil, simplicity and cunning, honesty and falsehood, good and bad).

Proverbs are characterized by bright national laden and very clearly reflect the national identity of the people`s soul - their world view.

These texts reflect the living conditions of native speakers, their history, way of life, place of residence, which imposed in its entirety huge imprint of peculiarities of national perception of the world.

The national character in the world-picture is shown in the selection of different images for the expression of certain concepts, as well as in the actualization of different signs taken for the names of reality objects.

Proverbs give some idea of the naive (domestic, non-scientific) view of the world and represent countless everyday expressions describing the understanding and non-stereotyped, emotional and imaginative vision of certain life situations, events and objects.

The purpose of proverbs is to interpret the understanding of reality that allows us to consider them as linguistic units, representing the emotional nature of the culture.

As the units of the secondary category, the proverbs reveal the presence of two peculiar pictures of the world.

The first picture of the world is literally perceived image of reality, i. e., literal translation of the proverbs, as used only in relation to this particular situation. The second picture of the world is the result of emotional sense of human interaction with the surrounding reality and represents a new perspective on reality, that is, its reinterpretation and application to different situations.

Both pictures of the world come in contact with each other, the second picture of the world is closely related to the first pillar as in the original mapping of the specific situation of the real world.

The presence of two overlapping images of the world proves the specificity of conceptualizing reality of proverbs.

The fact that at the heart of proverbs there are of two distinct types of information: information about the world (scientific picture of the world and domestic), and information about the relationship of the subject to the world (subjective view of the world).

Thus, we found in the English proverb "If there were no clouds in the sky, we shouldn't enjoy the sun is the reflection of the nature of the UK, its humid climate, i. e. if there are clouds, it is likely to rain, and it is not a pleasant event for the people of this country. But in the background of this there is an idea that without the bad (clouds), we would not appreciate the good (the sun), as would not notice it. Being created by the people, proverbs meant the same, and therefore it is very imaginative, concise and accessible understanding, even if some realities are outside the existing knowledge of the recipient.

By virtue of its original imagery and associative texts proverbs inherent in a linguistic-cultural community, and are very interesting for members of linguistic-cultural community in the coincidence of the basic concepts of life for most people. Due to the fact that all people are close, morally problematic and search a person's place in the world.


Realities - words and phrases, object characteristics of life (life, culture, social and historical development) and the exact terms (equivalents) of certain languages. Relevance of the chosen topic is because the study of realities is one of the problems of modern linguistic science.

The term "reality" has appeared in linguistics only in the late 50s and until now, researchers have not come to a consensus about what the words refer to reality. Reality, in everyday usage, means "the state of things as they actually exist". The term "reality", in its widest sense, includes everything that is, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible.

Reality in this sense may include both being and nothingness, whereas "existence" is often restricted to being (compare with "nature"). In other words, "reality", as a philosophical category, includes the formal concept of "nothingness" and articulations and combinations of it with other concepts (those possessing extension in physical objects or processes for example).

"Reality," the concept, is contrasted with a wide variety of other concepts, largely depending upon the intellectual discipline.

It can help us to understand what we mean by "reality" to note that what we say "is not" real because we see it through different perspectives, therefore there is no basis for reality. But usually if there are no original and related proofs, it isn't reality. In philosophy, reality is contrasted with nonexistence (penguins do exist, so they are real) and mere possibility (a mountain made of gold is merely possible, but is not known to be real-that is, actual rather than possible-unless one is discovered). Sometimes philosophers speak as though reality is contrasted with existence itself, though ordinary language and many other philosophers would treat these as synonyms. They have in mind the notion that there is "a kind" of reality, a mental or intentional reality, perhaps, that imaginary objects, such as the aforementioned golden mountain, have. Alexius Minong is famous, or infamous, for holding that such things have so-called subsistence, and thus a kind of reality, even while they do not actually exist. Most philosophers find the very notion of "subsistence" mysterious and unnecessary, and one of the shibboleths and starting points of 20th century analytic philosophy has been the forceful rejection of the notion of subsistence, of "real" but nonexistent objects.

Much of scientific exploration, experimentation, interpretation and analysis is done on this level.

This view of reality is well expressed by Philip K. Dick's statement that "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."

The realities are divided into fourmain groups:

- Absolute (full) realities - the words that exist in one culture, one language. They are the proper names (especially geographical names, names of people, national values, etc.);

- Partial realities - non-equivalent vocabulary, false friends of translation. Coincide only partially by meaning. These are the words with cultural overtones that carry the background information;

- Realities that have no linguistic equivalent, but with the conceptual equivalent;

- Words with connotations that are equivalent.

We have chosen absolute realities, which are the proper names like names of people, material culture and geographical objects.



Proverbs and sayings, which include anthroponomy, have bright national specificity for recipient of other culture. In these texts anthroponomyacts as a proper name, a rich variety of associative and connotations, but already has a figurative meaning, and are used for a variety of situations.

It does not apply to your particular carrier, as it were, "absorbs" in all the inherent features and gives them to any other object that characterizes his actions, deeds, bringing to the forefront not the name itself, and its assessment as to the attitude of the speaker the object being named, and the new object to which the name is transferred. Conceptually proverbs and sayings with an element-anthroponomy complicated because for the isolation of their values, and comparing them with the values of equivalents in the native language of the recipient, as a rule, additional background knowledge in linguistics.

There is a specific interest to a group of proverbs and sayings, one component of which is the traditional English name or surname, as for example, Betty, Tom, Jack, Dick, John, Mary, Brown, Jones, Smith, etc.

For example, anthroponomical names-Tom, Dick, Harry are consolidated in the saying, Tom, Dick and Harry, and anthroponomy-names - in the saying Brown, Jones and Robinson, both sayings are synonymous, as implement the same meaning - average, mediocre, ordinary people, the first counter.

The equivalent sayings will cause in the minds of the recipients of other cultures like different images to their national pictures of the world, i. e., in this case, ordinary, average people in Britain will vary in material status, rights, habits, clothing, etc. and, accordingly, will be different images of these people's minds representatives of two compared linguistic and cultural communities. These proverbs also show us the popularity of these names in Britain.

The most common anthroponomy, found in English proverbs and sayings - anthroponomy Jack. It can be assumed that the frequent use of the name in the English proverbs and sayings due to its high prevalence among the English people. Because of its prevalence in many cases it becomes a household name.

As the saying Jack-of-all-trades, later gave birth to a more specific one - the proverb Jack of all trades and master of none, given a proper name used to refer to a person who is taken for different activities, but really did not know how to. The value of the English proverb defines its negative connotation.

This provision does not deny the fact of the applicability of the English proverb to a person with any name, if it is taken for a lot, but did not know how to do it (as a result of the generalization of the token Jack in this adage used to mean a fellow). It merely points out, first, to ease identification of nationality of English proverbs as it contains real anthroponomy, and, secondly, show that the basis for the expression of the same concept as different people put completely different principles and different lexical items.

An English proverb Before one can say Jack Robinson genetically served as the prototype of the real historical character, Jack Robinson, who inflicted a quick visit to their friends and leave before announcing his arrival.

Anthroponomy presence in the English proverb makes it difficult to identify the meaning of the text: it refers to the national selected text, and requires additional background knowledge on linguistic and cultural studies.

This proverb is transmitted by the speed of the image, which expresses the action much longer than duration of action.

The saying The vicar of Bray provides a link to the semi-legendary Vicar of Bray, who lived in the XVI century, who had changed his religion: twice was a Protestant and a Catholic twice.

The vicar of Bray represents the name of character, which was created not just to name a person, and for the shaped object characteristics.

Name-response in this case emphasizes the property is condemned man as unprincipled. According to this saying, unprincipled for the British - is inconsistency in the faith. The symbol is a lack of principles specific historical person that has a language of its own implementation. To analyze the concept of such proverbs recipient of other culture in linguistic and cultural communities it's necessary to understand the pattern of fragments of the world, which are referred to proverbs and sayings that contain an anthroponomy-features, including the features of the relationship of a people to certain behavioral traits of character or any other person, including the national estimate.


The study of English proverbs and sayings, containing in the structure of toponyms which showed that proverbs and sayings often do not have their equivalents in other cultures.

Besides, proverbs and sayings by virtue of its uniqueness as a rule belong to the culture of one nation and have no analogues in the culture of the other. The existence of the English culture, proverb with toponym like "The carry coals to Newcastle explained through the coincidence of mental association in terms of the concept of committing unreasonable actions.

An English proverb To carry coals to Newcastle verbalizes the meaning to do inappropriate things, analyzing the historically-cultural aspects: Newcastle is the noteworthy town of England and was the part of royal citadel.

English saying To be on the high-road/highway to Needham has the meaning of "being on the verge of bankrupt/insolvency".

To define the concept of saying it is necessary to identify the prototypical stage, which should be linked to such a settlement, as Needham.

Bringing data geography does not give any special characteristics that existed near the town of Ipswich, a small village - Needham Market.

This suggests that for the figurative metaphorical realization of the concept of ruin/bankrupt of the British, probably created the toponymical word Needham, to gain a foothold in this saying, and which is a derivative of the noun need (destitution, poverty). The proverb The send to Coventry has the meaning of "to turn away from anyone," incorporates the place-name calling really existing realities, and is used to convey the idea of boycotting, neglect and hostility towards anyone. A genetic prototype of the text reflects the following information: first, a prison in the city of Coventry in the XVII century was a place of exile and banishment royalists, and secondly, the hostility.

Here we can see that other toponymical proverbs and sayings are represented in first position and property specific location (the first picture of the world), and then transformed into a figurative expression of a larger concept (the second picture of the world). Thus, the lack of conceptual equivalents of proverbs and sayings of another language confirms the explanation that the representatives of the different communities perceive surrounding normal reality in different ways, according to their own views of the world, so the foundation of proverbs and sayings in different languages.

The saying To talk Billingsgate has the prototype of big fish market in London - Billingsgate.

In English proverb is characterized by illustrative and specific images, as it refers to a specific place - Billingsgate - very noisy due to its large area.

There is an idea that people there swear making, expressing that market is the place of noise.

Thus, proverbs and sayings containing toponyms reflect the peculiarities of life of other people and the geography of that country.


Material culture realities presented in English phraseology group of proverbs and sayings, which contain, as a rule, the names of dishes, drinks, currency, and etc. In the proverb, To pick the plums out of the pudding British reality pudding implements its specific value the most common among the English national Christmas dish. Inherent human desire to eat the most delicious first that would occur always represents the concept of taking the best. So pudding, being familiar and often prepared dishes for the British, was the target of reasonably imaginative rethinking in English phraseology.

English proverbs An ounce of practice is worth a pound of theory and An ounce of discretion is worth a pound of wit are examples of material cultural proverbs-containing unit of weight (ounce and pound).

These proverbs contain a meaning that for English people practice is more valuable than a pound of theory.

A pound in cultural aspect of English is known as very much, large, so a little amount of tact is more than a pound of wit.

One more example of the proverb Try to put a quart into a pint pot shows that for an adequate cross-cultural communication without any loss of information is necessary to know the actual values used in proverbs measurements or at least has a rough idea about them.

A quart contents 1.14 l of liquid and a pint is 0.57 l. Accordingly, it becomes clear reason for this categorization of reality of English people for expressing impossible ideas in very good examples of using the received measurement value in the country. In indirect context, it means try to do an impossible.

English proverb Give him an inch and he will take a mile/yard, verbalized the concept of greed, gluttony. Therefore referred meaning of inch" and "miles" are the realities of the English people, the presence of which requires linguistic and cultural knowledge to identify their internal form and, therefore, to understand the imaginative concept.

For comparison of large and small use measures of land measurement, which is very small in England. These realities - indications of linear measures (inch and mile) - at the first perception of containing texts indicate the nationality of these proverbs and sayings.


Besides, the specificity of proverbs and sayings that contain any of the categories of reality is that the national characteristics of attitude are reflected mainly in the sense of reality.

National and cultural identity encompasses all the words mean reality and can clearly be seen due to the unique facts of the material culture. Moreover, they show a very special and unique view of the people of the surrounding reality of its English representatives.

Most of the proverbs and sayings containing realities in the same culture do not exist an equivalent in another culture.

Proverbs and sayings of English culture have specific features, characterizing the color of some original national culture, its centuries-old history. Proverbs and sayings contain deep sense and national wisdom, which have roots far in the past. They reflect people's way of thinking and perception of the world. They are considered to be codes of culture, its specific laconic and witty language. Combined with other sources, they could show us unknown side of the `story', how different aspects of life were and are reflected in people's mind, what is considered important in a culture's perception of its micro world and thus remembered and transmitted, how are the `others' perceived, how is the `anger' and fear of the difficult times articulated and, as psychologists would say, compensated through that articulation.

In Anthroponomical realities of English proverbs, we can see that English people use names of people to express the ordinariness, generality in mental concept. In some case, English proverbs express people`s versatility and also the negative connotation according to them.

Some English proverbs express the quickly change of events, of course, originally using the anthroponomical reality, real historical person.

In appliance with toponymical realities, English proverbs use geographical objects to reflect the state of being on the verge of bankrupt, insolvency, destitution and poverty. Moreover, some names of geographical objects express the character of angry and swearing people inside the proverbs, taking into context the real toponyms, marking the unique places of England. Furthermore, in their historical and cultural sides, English proverbs containing toponyms convey the idea of boycotting, neglect and hostility towards anyone. A genetic prototype of these proverbs also present.

The presence of material culture units in English proverbs shows us the important elements of cultural and mental aspects of nation. Some proverbs have an idea of taking the best items, which reflect the inner character of English people. Analyzing the proverbs connected with the realities of material culture we have known that for English people the practice is on the first place than theory, and also tact is better than mind. These conclusions impact on our picture of the world according to English cultural specifics.

Summarizing the above investigations, we can construct in our mind the model of a mental and cultural world of English nation towards the character of people, life ideas and moral concepts. This work analyzed the problems and difficulties for recipients of other nations to understand the meanings of English proverbs and sayings including absolute realities.

Relevance of the chosen topic is because the study of realities is one of the problems of modern linguistic science. The term "reality" has appeared in linguistics only in the late 50s and until now, researchers have not come to a consensus about what the words refer to reality. We hope, that through this investigation it would be easily to recognize the mental and cultural specifics of English nation if someone is going to potentially get on with English people. As we said, the topicality and actuality of this work was in fact problems of understanding unique cultural texts and linguistic units of other nations is difficult and the concept absolute reality was not deeply investigated by scientists and linguists. Furthermore, this work shares with the aspects of the first picture of the world and the second picture of the world according to English proverbs and sayings containing absolute realities. semantics toponym language

In conclusion, we understood that English proverbs reflect the cultural and mental features of English people, because every proverb had its own specific meaning, which express the picture of the world of English people.

Also, we analyzed that proverbs and sayings have been developing together with the history of the people.


1. Ana Ibanez Moreno, An Analysis of the Cognitive Dimension of Proverbs in English and Spanish: the Conceptual Power of Language Reflecting Popular Believes.

2. Habeeb Ibrahim, Nations' Proverbs Unfair to Eve.

3. Julie Lovell,The proverbs of a culture reflect much of its attitudes, 2001.

4. , - .

5. Elias Dominguez Baraja, The function of proverbs in discourse. Berlin: de Gruyter Mouton., 2010.

6. Owen S. Adams, "Proverbial Phrases from California", Western Folklore.

7. John Simpson, Jennifer Speake,The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs.

8. A. Philosophical Thesis The Absolute Reality.


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