Circle of diseases in linguistic consciousness and medical tradition of Russians: classification experience based on the dictionary by V.I. Dal (summary)

© 2012 E.I. Kirilenko

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Key words: linguistic and cultural approach, circle of ilnesses, folk medicine, linguistic consciousness, cultural discourse, language as an anthropological phenomena, cultural semantics, medical experience

Abstract: The research, highlighted in the article, is concentrated on detection and systematization of the names of diseases, which are present in the “Explanatory Dictionary of the Living Great Russian Language” by V.I. Dal. The idea of classification, made in this research, is realized in the perspective of medical anthropology and is based on the integrative criteria, cumulating cultural, anthropological and medical components.  

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Language is one of the priority research fields in modern humanitaristics. Linguocultural approaches tend to expand humanitarian horizons of classical linguistics, suggest to study language as an anthropological phenomenon (see, e.g., Vendina, T., 2001). This research focuses on revealing and systematizing of names of diseases present in the dictionary by V.I. Dal.

Linguistic consciousness is a category that reflects connection between language structures and cultural meanings; it shows that language structures are ‘penetrated’ (T.Vendina) by fundamental mental assumptions. This category allows to go beyond the limits of strict linguistic analysis in the field of culture, to discover cultural preferences, attitudes to the body, reveal gender and age differences, some peculiarities of everyday life, including those related to hygiene behavior.

The present paper presents classification of vocabulary that reflects particular diseases based on the dictionary compiled by V.I.Dal. The idea of classification appears not only as a methodological tool, but also as a semantic element of the cultural text. The idea of classification as a principle of alignment of cultural discourse was brought to notice by M. Foucault who suggested to expand approaches to traditional methodological analysis and saw some fundamental cultural codes behind scientific schemes.

The idea to look at classification in the context of cultural semantics allows not only to reveal peculiarities of medical views that recognize particular diseases (in accordance with the level of development of medical knowledge), but also gives a possibility to formulate principles of disease classification in such a way that they reflect some basic “medical” ideas present in this cultural context, stable patterns of medical behavior and consciousness. This gives the perspective of cultural anthropology to the analysis of medical phenomena.

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