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2014-04-19

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LINGUISTICS
UDC 81
D.V. Pavlenok
Irkutsk state linguistic university
Irkutsk, Russia
dpavlenok@mail.ru
THE EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH OF THE NATIONAL-CULTURAL SPECIFICITY
OF THE PROFESSOR’S IMAGE IN THE LANGUAGE CONSCIOUSNESS OF RUSSIAN
AND FRENCH STUDENTS
[Экспериментальное исследование национально-культурной специфики образа
преподавателя в языковом сознании российских и французских студентов]
The article deals with the experimental research of the national-cultural specificity of the professor’s image in
the language consciousness of Russian and French students. The author of the article uses the psycholinguistic approach
for the comparative study of images based on the language consciousness theory by E. F. Tarasov and N.V. Ufimitseva.
Also a new concept of the professional code of the culture is introduced. The author carries out the comparative analysis
of given image based on reactions got in the course of free-association test. By means of content analysis the author
finds out the components of studied image (learning activity participants, professional activity, forms of professional
activity, estimation of professional activity, professional skills, personal skills, estimation of professor’s personality,
attitude to the professor) and reveals its ethnocultural specificity of the professional code in the structure of the studied
image.
Key words: language consciousness, psycholinguistics approach, association test, professional code, professor.
Since antiquity the problem of consciousness had been attracting the attention of researchers
in the field of philosophy, sociology, psychology, linguistics, psycholinguistics, cultural linguistics
and other areas. According to A.G. Spirkin, each discipline considers the mind with various
scientific and methodological perspectives, defining the research approach and raising it to the rank
of basic scientific concept [Spirkin, 2001].
In order to identify cultural identity of images of linguistic consciousness we choose
psycholinguistic approach, allowing to apply psychological methods (method of association test) to
solve such linguistic problems as identification, study and compare the images of linguistic
awareness. Here we rely on the theory of linguistic consciousness by E.F. Tarasov and N.V.
Ufimtseva, within which linguistic consciousness is regarded as “a set of images of consciousness,
using language means - words, free phrases and idioms, sentences, texts, associative fields”
[Tarasov, 2004, p. 36]. It should be stressed that this phenomenon is studied in the activity
paradigm, allowing, as underlined by T.L. Kalentyeva, to describe and compare the linguistic
consciousness not only through different ways of implementation of human speech, but also
through the images of consciousness [Kalentyeva, 1998, 2013].
It should be noted, that in this article the theoretical base for studying cultural identity of the
test image of language consciousness is consciousness structure, developed by A.N. Leontiev
[Leontiev, 1975] and amended by V.P. Zinchenko [Zinchenko, 1991, 2011]. Consciousness is the
ultimate interpretation of a five-layer structure (see Table 1).
Table 1. Consciousness structure of A.N. Leontiev and V.P. Zinchenko
Layers of consciousness
Ontological (object-activity)
Chronotopical
Subjective constituent
Sensible tissue
Time
Objective subjective
Biodynamic tissue of actions
Space
Reflexive
Evaluative
Spiritual
Sense
Co-meaning
significance
I
значение
(experienced Objective sense of cultural
phenomena
You (other)
Taking into consideration the fact, that “... in the base of worldview and outlook of every
nation there is own system of substantive meanings, social stereotypes, cognitive schemes.
Therefore, human consciousness is always ethnically stipulated ...” [Leontiev, 1993, p. 20], we
propose to introduce ethnocultural layer into the structure of consciousness, reflecting presence of
undeniable ethno-cultural specificity of language consciousness and its constituent images. This
layer in our understanding passes and sifts as “filter” incoming data to subjects, covering,
“enveloping” layers of consciousness by “ethnic paint”. At the same time, ethno-cultural layer, in
our opinion, is embodied primarily in the culture codes that represent “a set of signs (symbols),
meanings (and its combinations), which are enclosed in any subject of material and spiritual man
activity” [Big Dictionary of Cultural Studies, 2003]. In this work, based on the correlation with the
above-described structure of consciousness, culture codes are "a set of mental structures that
underlie in the base of the processes of cultural knowledge transition into the category of cultural
values (“evaluation”) through the process of linking with cultural meanings, values and chronotope,
characteristic for certain linguocultural community” [Pavlenok, 2013, p. 157].
To confirm the relevancy of review of culture codes as forming the ethno-cultural layer of
consciousness, N.F. Alefirenko indicates that the culture codes “form” a kind of matrix, or a
coordinate system used to specify and then store in our minds standards (samples) of culture”
[Alefirenko, 2010, p. 88]. It is important to mention, the author notes that although these categories
are universal (belong to any person), their language projection is not the same, i.e. codes
manifestation, their proportions, language images, in which they are embodied, are always
determined by certain linguoculture [Alefirenko, 2010].
Based on the above-mentioned, we can assume the existence in the structure of the integral
multi-layer image of the profession representative of unique professional code that defines a
specific set of values and mental structures (“expectations” and views), by which the representative
of any profession is related and “recognized” by ones people [Pavlenok, 2013]. It should be also
emphasized ethnolinguocultural conditionality of this code, which is particularly evident at various
ethno-cultural comparisons.
This article is aimed at the experimental study of cultural identity of the teacher image in the
linguistic consciousness of Russian and French students. Research material were associative
reactions of 315 Russian and 164 French students, received at 16 stimuli. It should be noted that the
use of free association experiment is stipulated by an attempt to detect ethno-cultural peculiarities of
language consciousness at unconscious for respondents level. At the same time, as noted by N.V.
Ufimtseva, “presented as a multidimensional associative network associative thesaurus gives a clear
idea about the structure and functioning of language consciousness” of “average” speaker of a
language, and thus his image of the world” [Ufimtseva, 2011, p. 230].
The resulting associative reactions were analyzed using content analysis technique, which
enables on the basis of quantitative characteristics to identify certain structural regularities
[Baranov, 2001]. Using this methodology there were identified components of the test image,
which, in our opinion, reflect a certain set of universal traits on which base it is possible to identify
and compare the professional code generated in the ethno-cultural layer of the representative of a
profession image.
We turn now to the direct analysis of our associative reactions, based on previously identified
components of the image:
1) Subjects of the educational process (teacher / un professeur, student / un étudiant). To a
large extent our attention will be paid to the analysis of direct stimulus teacher / un professeur,
because it is there, in our opinion, where is the biggest concentration of the analyzed image.
Table 2. The core of the associative field of stimuli teacher/ professeur
Associative reactions of students
Semantic groups
Russian
French
Semantic content of the
Teacher 8,6%, tutor 1,9%,
Enseignant 4,8%, fonctionnaire
profession
educator 1,3%
1,2%
Professional activity
Knowledge 3,5%, studies 2,9%, Etude(s) 4,8%, apprendre 3,6%,
study 1,9%
savoir 3%, apprentissage 1,2%,
enseignement 1,2%
Place of work
University 2,9%, school 1,3%
Ecole 7,8%
Professional qualities
Strict 6,7%, demanding 1,9%,
Autorité 1,2%, strict 1,2%
qualified 1,3%, experienced 1%
Personal qualities
Clever 9,5%, funny 1,9%
Forms of professional
lecture1%, pair 1%
(Des) cours 5,4%
activity organization
Specificity of professional
Français 4,8%, math(ématiques)
activity
4,8%,
littérature 1,2%
Evaluation of teacher
Good 1,9%, fair 1,6%
personality
Attitude to teacher
Respected 1,3%, respect 1,3%
Bof 1,2%
Participants of professional Pupil 1,9%
activity
Attributes
Règle 1,2%, tableau 1,2%
Social position
Grève 1,2%
As can be seen from Table 2, for Russian respondents the most actualized in the core of the
associative field are semantic groups “Semantic content of the profession”, “Professional qualities”
and “Personal qualities”, which have approximately equal indicator of the relative frequency. Based
on the data, by summarizing and abstracting some may assume that Russian respondents perceive
the teacher, primarily, as a person, endowed with certain personal (clever 9.5%, cheerful 1.9%) and
professional (strict 6.7%, demanding 1.9%, qualified 1.3%, experienced 1%) qualities, and fill the
analyzed image by certain personal sense, correlated, in our opinion, to the characteristic of the
teaching profession and the role he performed not only within the educational process, but also later
in life in society (reactions teacher 8.6%, tutor 1.9%, educator 1.3%). The presence in Russian
respondents answers of a large number of reactions-evaluations and lacunarity of semantic group
“Personal qualities” of the French confirms the peculiarity of Russian communicative behavior evaluation [Sternin, 2002].
It is also important to mention the existence of a group of Russian respondents “Professional
activity participants” with the corresponding reaction student 1.9%. Certainly, the relative
frequency of this associate in the core is not large, but the mere fact of appearance of the semantic
group is considered by us as a very positive trend, indicating immediate actualization “subjectsubject relations” within the educational process in the minds of the subjects.
In the core of French students associative field there is a significant “leader” - semantic group
“Professional activity”, filled with such associates, as apprendre 'learn, to teach' 3,6%, étude (s)
'education, training sessions' 4.8% , savoir 'knowledge, know' 3%, apprentissage 'apprenticeship,
teaching' 1,2%, enseignement 'teaching, learning' 1.2%. Then it is followed by “The specificity of
professional activity”, namely, various names of objects, among which prevails math (ématique (s))
'Mathematics' 4.8%, and in the third position “Workplace” (école 'school' 7.8% ). In our view, such
a distribution of semantic groups may indicate that the French perceive the image analyzed through
the prism of professional activity, i.e. through the educational process itself, associated with the
process of learning and obtaining / possession of knowledge, refracted in different specialization
(different subjects of teaching) and implemented in a certain place (educational institution). We
would also like to draw attention to such specific French semantic groups with zero (lacunar)
fullness of such groups among the Russians as “Attributes of professional activity” (règle 'rule'
1,2%, tableau 'board' 1.2%) and “Social position” (grève 'strike' 1.2%). It is well known that the
French, differing by constant readiness to protest, often organize strikes.
In terms of comparison of responses between the two countries we should pay attention to
such a group as a “Attitude to the teacher”. On the part of Russian respondents it is filled with such
associates as respected and respect, constituting 2.5% of the total number of reactions, and by the
French is the reaction bof 1,2%, meaning “pf!, So what!” and usually expressing indifference,
disregard for any subject.
As for the next stimulus for the surveyed in both countries a student is a young (jeune)
student (élève), studying at a university (université). Thus for Russian respondents he's funny, smart,
nice, but lazy; for the French - serious (sérieux), but not forgetting the holidays (la fête), parties
(soirée). However, representatives of both countries do not directly associate the teacher’s image
with the student’s one. Only in the periphery of the reactions of Russian subjects we find a single
answer - teacher.
2) Professional activity (teach / enseigner). According to the reactions, the experiment
participants in both countries see the process of teaching, primarily, as a process of knowledge
transmission: knowledge, to give knowledge, give away, transfer (transmettre), give (donner), etc.
However, the French students perceive the teacher more like the person, who gives
knowledge, as evidenced by the frequency of nuclear reaction professor (prof (esseur)). But
Russian subjects associate teaching with forms of educational activity (lesson, lecture, classes),
with the subjects themselves (subject, discipline, foreign language, music, economics), the place of
the classes (in institute of higher education). They believe that teaching, on the one hand, is
interesting, but on the other hand, hard, it is a hard work, it is necessary to have not only a vocation,
but to do it qualitatively, well, excellent. Probably, for our students it is of importance not only the
personality of the teacher, but the quality of the educational process. It is also important that only
French subjects realize educational function of teaching (educate (éduquer)), although it is in
Russian pedagogy they emphasize teacher’s performance of educational function in the learning
process.
3) Forms of organization of professional activity (class / un cours, exam / un examen). For
Russian respondents the teacher takes interesting, even hilarious, classes, but on the other hand it
can be long and boring. Students of France, although similar reactions-assessment can be noticed,
have 85% of neutral nuclear reactions: they are more connected with the names of specific subjects
(English (anglais), French (français), marketing (marketing), Mathematics (maths,
mathématiques)) .
Analysis of stimulus exam has showed that it is not directly connected with the test images in
the minds of respondents in both countries. Unlike French subjects, Russian students treat the exam
quite emotionally: professor takes the exam, which causes not only stress, but also agitation,
horror, nightmare, fear, etc. (for comparison, the French basically call the names of specific
exams). In both cases, the teacher takes difficult, complex - difficile, dur exam. It is also important
to mention the appearance of nationally precedential phenomenon in responses of Russian students
- exam automatically.
4) Evaluation of professional activity (interesting / intéressant, boring / ennuyeux). Russian
students may be interested in abstract subject, lesson or seminar; the French have only 11.5% of
peripheral reactions, related to learning of students. Also in the peripheral zone the Russian may be
interested in the student himself (reactions student, I). And only one testee thinks of a teacher in
such a way. The French do not have such mention of the subjects of learning activities.
The stimulus boring among Russian and French students caused similar syntagmatic
reactions: boring can be subject, lesson, lecture, classes ((les) cours). In peripheral reactions of
respondents in both countries there are certain names of subjects: English, lexicology, French ((le)
français), Physics ((la) physique), etc. French respondents also consider more abstract associates
boring: some studies (certains cours), lectures course (cours magistraux), unnecessary class (cours
inutile). It is important to mention, that unlike the French, Russian students consider professor,
lecturer and even teacher boring.
We can suppose that, according to Russian students, professor should take interesting subject
/ class, otherwise his discipline will be considered boring or the professor himself will be a boring
man. French respondents have the other opinion: although they are interested in definite subjects,
they consider boring either subjects and classes in the whole, or specific disciplines, at the same the
very personality of the professor is not of importance for them.
5) Professional qualities of the teacher (severe / sévère, authoritative / compétent, highly
qualified / (hautement) qualifié). In the language consciousness of Russian students, severe is not
only a professor, teacher, but also examiner, dean, head of the department and rector. French,
respondents assign severity only to professor (prof (esseur), les profs).
Stimulus authoritative among Russian students is not only connected with the personality of
the professor (the second most frequent reaction), but also with the rector, educator, teacher, dean
and professor. French respondents, only in 6% of the cases mention professor. It is interesting to
mention, that 3.7% of French and 1% of Russian subjects consider authoritative not a professor, but
themselves.
Highly qualified, above all, for Russian students are specialist, employee, doctor, and only
then professor. French respondents have similar syntagmatic reactions: engineer (ingénieur),
employee (cadre), doctor (médecin), specialist (spécialiste, expert), and responses, connected with
the professor, are single.
6) Personal qualities of the professor (smart / intelligent, wise / sage). Students of Russian and
French universities consider smart, primarily, themselves (student - des étudiants, I - moi, pupil élève). Only 2.8% of the Russian subjects recognize that the professor also has this quality, and
there is no this reaction in the responses of the French this reaction is absent. However, we can
assume that, most likely, a priori students consider smart the person, who gives them the
knowledge, as evidenced by the presence of the corresponding frequent response to the stimulus
professor.
When analyzing the reactions to the stimulus wise it turned out that Russian and French
respondents correlate wisdom not so much with the educational process and the professor in
particular, as with life in general. So wise is a person, who has some experience (experienced) and
belongs to the older generation (old man, elder, old (vieux, ancien), grandfather, etc.).
Nevertheless, 9% of Russian and 2.2% of French students see wise the very professor (enseignant,
prof de dessin), teacher (maître), educator. Also, 4.4% of French respondents say that they
themselves possess this quality (reaction moi), while Russian respondents’ response is single.
Unlike the French, 1.9% of Russian students may find dean or professor wise.
7) Evaluation of the professor’s individuality (fair / juste, unfair / injuste). Evaluation of the
teacher on the semantic scale “fair - unfair” is peculiar mainly to students of Russian universities.
Thus, the professor is perceived as fair in 11% of cases and unfair in 8.1% of cases, and teacher in 6.5% and 1.9% of cases, respectively. It is interesting to note that 3.7% of respondents believe
fair themselves (reactions student, I). Associate evaluation is also private (in the first case, the 7th
place in terms of frequency, in the second case - the first one). For comparison, the French reactions
are single (examen (exam), mon bac (my baccalaureate exam after secondary school), etc.).
8) Attitude to the professor (respect / respecter, criticize / critiquer). These incentives hardly
associate with the personality of the professor in the minds of students. Thus, the Russian respect
elders, themselves, parents, criticize themselves, work, people, and the French in the first case - the
rules ((les) règles), law (loi (s)), others (les autres, autrui), the second incentive means to judge
(juger), advance (avancer), evaluate (évaluer). Only 2.3% of Russian students emphasize a sense of
respect to the professor.
Thus, we have carried out the experimental study of the professor’s image in the linguistic
consciousness of French and Russian students, which allowed to identify and describe the
professional code of the professor. Based on the results, we can conclude that for Russian
respondents this profession is not confined to the educational process, but greatly affects the
formation of the student as a future professional. At the same time students associate professor with
some personal and professional qualities, thereby building personal relationship with the professor
within the educational process. French respondents consider professor less subjectively, through the
educational process itself, associated with the process of learning and obtaining / possession of
knowledge, refracted in different specialization (different subjects) and implemented in a certain
place (educational institution). For the French, the main purpose of the professor as a public servant
is to transfer knowledge, and not to establish personal relationships.
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