Metonymy as Semantic Mechanism of Creation Language Game in Dovlatov’s Creativity

© The Editorial Council and Editorial Board of Linguistic Studies

Linguistic Studies
Volume 35, 2018, pp.  
126-129

Metonymy as Semantic Mechanism of Creation Language Game in Dovlatov’s Creativity

Pushkar Olga

Article first published online: June 06, 2018 


Additional information

 Author Information: 

Pushkar Olga, Doctor of Philology, post-graduate student of Slavic Languages Department of H. S. Skovoroda Kharkiv National Pedagogical University (spec. 10.02.02. – the Russian language). Correspondence: ollgizza@gmail.com

Citation: 
Pushkar, O. Metonymy as Semantic Mechanism of Creation Language Game in Dovlatov’s Creativity [Text] // Linhvistychni Studiyi / Linguistic Studies : collection of scientific papers / Donetsk National University; Ed. by Anatoliy Zahnitko. Vinnytsia : Vasyl' Stus DonNU, 2018. Vol. 35. Pp. 126-129ISBN 966-7277-88-7

Publication History:

Volume first published online: June 06, 2018
Article received: March 24, 2018, accepted: May 15, 2018 and first published online: June 06, 2018

Annotation.

У статті наводиться аналіз такого семантичного механізму створення мовної гри, як метонімія у творчості Сергія Довлатова. Виявлено характерні типи та моделі метонімічних переносів для раннього та зрілого періодів творчості Сергія Довлатова. Визначено основні функції метонімії в оповіданнях і творах кожного періоду.

Keywords: language game, semantic mechanism, metonymy, comic effect, irony, individual style.



Abstract.

METONYMY AS SEMANTIC MECHANISM OF CREATION LANGUAGE GAME IN DOVLATOV’S CREATIVITY

Olga Pushkar

Slavic Languages Department, H. S. Skovoroda Kharkiv National Pedagogical University, Kharkiv, Ukraine

Abstract

Background: Language game has become the subject of close attention of philologists in recent years. Functioning language game in the works of art is still one of the main problems of modern linguistics. Thus, the study of language game as a characteristic feature of the writer’s individual style is perspective and actual direction in linguistics.

Purpose: The purpose of the analysis is to determine the specific features of S. Dovlatov's creative works from the point of view of the functioning of one of the dominant semantic mechanisms of language game metonymy, and figure out the evolution of using the metonymy throughout S. Dovlatov's literary works.

Results: The conducted research allows us to find out typical features due to functioning metonymy, as a semantic mechanism for creating language game, in S. Dovlatov's early and mature works of art. The early period of S. Dovlatov's creative work is characterized by the predominant use of partitive and attributive metonymy types for creation a comic effect. Local metonymy “the container – its contents” model is a widespread local metonymy model for both periods: the early and the mature ones of the writer's creativity. The causal type of metonymic transferences greatly prevails over other types of metonymy in the mature literary works of S. Dovlatov’s.Сreation of characters’ nicknames with causal metonymy is considered to be the characteristic feature of S. Dovlatov’s individual style. Many headlines of S. Dovlatov’s mature stories are based on causal or local metonymy types.

Discussion: Having analysed S. Dovlatov’s individual style in respect of the aspect of language game we have settled that such type of semantic language game as a metonymy is actively used by S. Dovlatov to construct statements with language game in the early and mature periods of the writer’s creativity. The prospect of the research implies the study of other typical semantic and syntactic mechanisms of creation language game in S. Dovlatov’s early and mature works of art.

Key words: language game, semantic mechanism, metonymy, comic effect, irony, individual style.

Vitae

Olga Pushkar is a post-graduate student of Slavic Languages Department of H. S. Skovoroda Kharkiv National Pedagogical University (spec. 10.02.02. – the Russian language). Her areas of research interests comprise text stylistics and phenomenon of language game

Сorrespondence: ollgizza@gmail.com


Article.

Ольга Пушкар

УДК 811.161.1’38

METONYMY AS A SEMANTIC MECHANISM OF THE LANGUAGE GAME IN S. DOVLATOV’S WORKS

 

У статті наводиться аналіз такого семантичного механізму створення мовної гри, як метонімія у творчості Сергія Довлатова. Виявлено характерні типи та моделі метонімічних переносів для раннього та зрілого періодів творчості Сергія Довлатова. Визначено основні функції метонімії в оповіданнях і творах кожного періоду.

Ключові слова: мовна гра, семантичний механізм, метонімія, комічний ефект, іронія, ідіостиль.

 

S. Dovlatov is one of the most liberated writers who is free from social conventions in his creative works.  The use of language game is considered to be the dominant feature of S. Dovlatov’s individual style.

In the article, the language game is determined within the framework of the semiotic approach. So, if the language game is based on the play upon the meaning of signs, we define this phenomenon as the semantic language game. Another type of the language game is a syntactic one, which is based on the play upon the correlation between the signs in the speech chain (Alexandrova 27). The main role is assigned to the syntactic form, however the semantic content also has a significant influence on the artistic effect of the language game. At the same time, the category of pragmatics exists in both semantic and syntactic types of the language game.

Having analyzed S. Dovlatov’s individual style in respect of the aspect of language game we defined that such type of semantic language game as the metonymy is actively used by S. Dovlatov in the early and mature periods of his writing.

The purpose of the analysis is to determine the specific features of S. Dovlatov’s creative works in terms of functioning such semantic mechanism as the metonymy, and to figure out the evolution of its usage throughout S. Dovlatov’s literary works.

The metonymy is “the regular or occasional substitution of one subject’s name by another, which is associated with this subject by contiguity, adjacency, involvement in one situation” (Gulak 56). The metonymy is defined as “a semiotic pattern that is manifested when the nomination of one event’s component is transferred to another, the class name of objects is constituted by the object, the designation of a part is used instead of the whole and the whole instead of a part for contiguity within one situation” (Selivanova 104).

The classification of metonymic transfers based on logical-semantic links between contiguity concepts is applied in the article. There are local, temporal, attributive, causal and partitive (synecdoche) types of metonymic transfers (Birikh).

Different types of the metonymy in the early S. Dovlatov’s literary works perform an entertaining function which serves for creating a comic effect and entertaining oneself and the interlocutor. For example, a comic effect in the early story “The donkey needs to be thin” is achieved by the metonymic transfer of partitive type (synecdoche): Вы помните случай с майором Барлоу? Он пошел на концерт органной музыки, а через неделю выбросился из небоскреба. На месте его гибели обнаружили лишь служебный жетон. В общем, майора Барлоу хоронили в коробке из-под сигарет... (Dovlatov 1: 76).

The synecdoche in the example is formed by the “whole – part” model (“man – an object belonging to man”). Служебный жетон is used in the nominative function, replacing the person of майор Барлоу. Creating unreal situation is the starting point that causes the comic effect in the story.

The following example demonstrates the attributive metonymy performing the entertaining function: В трамвае красивую женщину не встретишь. В полумраке такси, откинувшись на цитрусовые сиденья, мчатся длинноногие и бессердечные – их всюду ждут (Dovlatov 1: 182).

The attributive metonymies длинноногие and бессердечные regarded from originally longer multi-word combination where the noun domination is defined by two adjectives, which reveals a particular type of contiguity. Thus, the metonymy can be unfold to “длинноногие и бессердечные красивые женщины”. A. Kalinin remarks that “metonymy in adjectives arises as a result of the simplification, “reduction” of certain word combinations, and the possibility of such reduction depends on the contiguity of objects whose attributes receive the same name” (Kalinin, 20).

In the example, the author speaks ironically about modern young women. The attributive metonymic transfers are based on the characteristic features of beautiful women (appearance – длинноногие, inner world – бессердечные: external beauty is united with internal ugliness). So, two main features of beautiful young women stand out, and then form the image of modern woman. These metonymies perform nominative and connotative functions simultaneously.

Local metonymic transfer (model “the container its contents”) often serves to euphemize the statement (the masking function) in the early S. Dovlatov’s works. The author avoids the direct nomination of alcohol by using the name of the alcohol container instead. The following example focuses on the size of such container: Гаенко достал из карманамаленькуюи нес ее перед собой, как фонарик (Dovlatov 1: 163).

In the above example, the comic effect occurs because of the quivering attitude of the character to маленькая (‘a bottle of vodka with a capacity of 0.25 liters’).

Metonymic transfers with euphemistic function are also typical for S. Dovlatov’s works of the mature period. For example: Он протянул мне булькнувший сверток. Это была завуалированная форма гонорара. Глоток перед атакой (Dovlatov 1: 442). In the given fragment the author combines attribute and local metonymies. The local metonymy сверток results from “the subject – its contents” model. The participle булькнувший (which is considered to be attributive metonymy: “an attribute, that characterizes the object’s act – the sound produced by this object”) helps to understand the content of the parcel. Then, there is the metaphor завуалированная форма гонорара in the next sentence. This metaphor in the concentrated form explains why the characters were given this package and the following parceled metaphorical construction глоток перед атакой describes what it means for them.

In the mature period of S. Dovlatov’s creative work, the language game based on metonymic transfers provides an ironic effect. In this way, the causal metonymy is the widespread metonymy type in the story “Zapovednik”. Productive models “the author – the author’s work (creativity)”, “the person – the image of this person” are aimed at “debunking” Pushkin’s myth. In “Zapovednik” Pushkin “turns into the state property, the genuine interest is replaced by a cult” (Serman 150). Thus, S. Dovlatov ironically represents those events that debunk not only uneducated tourists, but also the workers of the Pushkin Hills Preserve: <…> Например, сняли портрет Ганнибала.

– Почему?

– Какой-то деятель утверждает, что это не Ганнибал. Ордена, видите ли, не соответствуют. Якобы это генерал Закомельский <…>

– Значит, правильно, что сняли?

– Да какая разница – Ганнибал, Закомельский... Туристы желают видеть Ганнибала. Они за это деньги платят. На фига им Закомельский?! Вот наш директор и повесил Ганнибала... Точнее, Закомельского под видом Ганнибала. А какому-то деятелю не понравилось... (Dovlatov 2: 206-207).

S. Dovlatov raises the issue of hypocrisy and replacement of the original exhibit of the preserve for the fake one. The author ironically (even satirically) describes the case with the fake Hannibal’s portrait. By means of the repeated causal metonymies, which are formed by the model “the name of a person – a portrait of this person”, the author focuses the reader’s attention on the fake museum exhibit and shows indifference of the Pushkin cult’s servants. The main functions of metonymies are entertainment and negative-appraisal.

Sometimes, causal metonymy represents the authorєs ironic attitude to the Soviet ideology in Dovlatov’s mature works. For example, as in the story “Compromiss”, the total devotion to ideological orientations is ridiculed. The worship of communist symbols in the Estonian District Committee, which, as A. Genis notes, “so diligently imitates the Moscow one, that, consequently, turns into its caricature”. (Genis 81-82): На первом этаже возвышался бронзовый Ленин. На втором – тоже бронзовый Ленин, поменьше. На третьем – Карл Маркс с похоронным венком бороды.

– Интересно, кто на четвертом дежурит? – спросил, ухмыляясь, Жбанков.

Там снова оказался Ленин, но уже из гипса (Dovlatov 1: 355).

The double metonymic constructions of the causal type are used. They are formed according to the models “a person a sculptural image of this person” and “material a product of this material” (бронзовый Ленин, Карл Маркс, Ленин, но уже из гипса).

The expressive effect of the above metonymies is also achieved by the inclusion of precedent names (the proper names of Soviet political figures) in their structure. In V. Zaitseva’s opinion, the expressiveness of the metonymy, which includes anthroponyms, depends on the readers’ background knowledge. “They should be in the same national-cultural space with the author of the publication. <...> These proper names not only form secondary nominations, but function as symbols of a certain historical time, create a national cultural background of the message” (Zaitseva 15).

The main function here is the ironic one. Inclusion of anthroponyms in the structure of metonymy also adds the illusion of reality to the creative work.

Another feature of metonymy functioning in the S. Dovlatov’s mature period prose is the creation of characters’ nicknames. Let us provide an example: Уже несколько лет “соперник ветра” работает барменом в Мюнди (Dovlatov 1: 262).

Соперник ветра is a metonymic nickname of one of the riders in the example. In order to decode this metonymy, it should be correlated with the official headline of the jubilee note about the Tallinn Hippodrome “Соперники ветра” in the newspaper.

Causal metonymy concentrates the maximum amount of information in the example. V. Telia says about this feature of creating secondary nominations the following: “In the process of creating new names or nominations, the speaker may have a need to identify a fragment of reality by adding his assessment to it and also expressing an emotional attitude towards it” (Telia 336). So, S. Dovlatov with the help of metonymy demonstrates his subjective attitude to the character and the situation at the hippodrome in general.

In addition, the artistic effect is produced due to the arrangement of these elements in strong positions: in the title of the note and in the final phrase, forming the circular semantic composition of the chapter.

Partitive metonymy is also used for the comic denomination of characters in S. Dovlatov’s creative works of the mature period. For example, in the story “Compromiss” we meet metonymy of the partitive type, which is formed by the “part – whole” model: Алла пришла в громадном коленкоровом сомбреро. Она им явно гордилась.

Я с тоской огляделся. Не хватало еще, чтобы меня видели с этим сомбреро Маринины подруги (Dovlatov 1: 272).

The partitive type of the metonymy transfer results from “the item of clothing – a woman in this item” model. Combination the metonymy сомбреро with the pronoun этим (‘which expresses the speaker’s disapproving, ironic attitude to a person or object’) helps narrator to express the negative attitude toward the portrayed character. The main function of the metonymy in the given example is the attitudinal one.

Besides, several headlines of S. Dovlatov’s creative works are based on partitive metonymy. The productive model of partitive metonymic transfer “part – whole” is introduced in the names of such works as “Zona”, “Zapovednik”, “Filial”. The article by K. Mechik-Blank is devoted to the headline peculiarities of Dovlatov’s books: “Dovlatov’s headlines are denotative and connotative at the same time. They sound neutral for those who open his book for the first time. But after reading the headline reinterpreted, it becomes like a predicate to the story” (Mechik-Blank). So, according to K. Mechik-Blank’s opinion, “Zona” is “a simple narrative about prison camp life for a person unfamiliar with the work. After reading the book, its headline takes on a new interpretation. Dovlatov emphasizes the similarity of the “zone” and the “big” world in the text, in letters to the publisher, so that when the book is read to the last page, its headline sounds different than it did at the beginning. It sounds as the definition of relations between the prison camp and the life in liberty, which (relations) are built on metonymic principle, where the part represents the whole and where the whole is, of course, Russia” (Mechik-Blank).

The headline “Zapovednik” is another example which illustrates a synecdoche with a “part whole” relation. Thus, this headline, as well as the “Zona”, can serve as the denomination of Russia-wide. K. Mechik-Blank believes that “Zapovednik” without specifying “Pushkin” is considered to be an ironic appraisal characteristic of the country” (Mechik-Blank).  L. Tikhonova, the deputy director in Mikhailovskoye, also considers this story to be “deeply symbolic”. “It is not said that it is our preserve. Maybe this image symbolizes the whole country” (Covalova 290). Thus, we can talk about the interaction between metonymy and symbol in S. Dovlatov’s mature prose. The author uses the strong position of the headline to embody the figurative content.

K. Mechik-Blank considered the headline of the story “Filial” to be the “metonymy of the creative elite” (Mechik-Blank). In the story the author concentrates on the image of the literary emigration world.

The headline “Chemodan” is supposed to be the metonymy of the local type: “the container its contents” model. The following interpretation of this headline becomes symbolic: a suitcase – its contents (the hero’s personal belongings) a funny story about the hero’s life, associated with this object. The image of a person is organized through a set of things presented in the collection of stories, each story “attached” to a thing, taken from the author’s life (Shiryaeva 194). “Chemodan” is S. Dovlatov’s memory of the “lost, priceless, unique life”. Thus, according to N. Marova’s affirmation, the headline is the thematic and ideological focus of the creative work, which (the headline) helps the reader to embody the author’s intention (Marova 172).

Having analyzed the metonymy, as a semantic mechanism for creating a language game, we find out the following features of its functioning in S. Dovlatov’s early and mature creative works. The early period of S. Dovlatov’s writing is characterized by the predominant use of partitive and attributive metonymy types for creation a comic effect. Partitive metonymy prevails in the creation of unreal situations in the stories. Creation elliptical structure is the typical feature of attributive metonymy. Local metonymy is often used for making euphemistic statements. “The container – its contents” model is a widespread local metonymy model for both periods: the early and the mature ones of the writer’s works.

The causal type of metonymic transfers greatly prevails over other types of metonymy in the mature period of S. Dovlatov’s works. Productive models “author the author’s work (his creativity)” and “a person the image of this person” are aimed to create irony as in the story “Zapovednik”. Using precedent names in the causal metonymy structure helps to create a reality effect; precedent names also act as symbols in S. Dovlatov’s texts.

Causal metonymy is the productive means for creation characters’ nicknames in S. Dovlatov’s individual style. Such nicknames perform an attitudinal function in the stories. Partitive metonymy also often reflects the author’s subjective attitude toward the characters.

Many headlines of S. Dovlatov’s mature stories are based on causal or local metonymy types. In such cases, the interaction of metonymy and symbol is the characteristic feature which actualizes additional, implicit meanings.

The prospect for the research includes the study of other typical semantic and syntactic mechanisms of creation language game in S. Dovlatov’s early and mature periods of creativity.

References. 

References

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List of Sources

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Надійшла до редакції 24 березня 2018 року.