Respectus Philologicus
Respectus Philologicus

Respectus Philologicus eISSN 2335-2388
2021, vol. 39 (44), pp. 161–172 DOI:

Language Representation Features of Primary Human Needs in Discourse: a Case Study on Short Prose by A. Solzhenitsyn

Olena N. Statsenko
Sumy National Agrarian University, Department of Foreign Languages
Gerasim Kondratyev Str. 160, Sumy 40000, Ukraine
Research interests: cognitive linguistics, cognitive discourse analysis, English as a foreign language

Abstract. The article is devoted to the cognitive analysis of linguistic means, representing the primary human needs in extreme conditions. The nominations denoting the concepts of “food” and “warmth” are subjected to the lexico-semantic, grammatical, stylistic consideration. A choice of the discourse for analysis is due to describing a human life in detention when the primary adaptive needs prevail all others and become the most valuable. The representation of human basic biological need in food and warmth is considered in the given contexts. The use of colloquial vocabulary, grammatical norms violation, as well as figurative comparisons and transformed phraseological units in the contexts determine peculiarities of the verbal explication of the concept “food”. The author pays attention to the stylistically reduced vocabulary, which stands out the lexeme “belly”, acquiring new semantic shades in the analyzed fragments. With the nomination of warmth as another important human need for existence, the lexeme “stove” is associated. The paper identifies and analyzes the factors that cause the life values changes at the cognitive level of a person experiencing deprivation of basic biological needs.

Keywords: A. Solzhenitsyn, cognitive linguistics, discourse, verbal means, anthropocentrism.

Submitted 9 December 2020 / Accepted 24 January 2021
Įteikta 2020 12 09 / Priimta 2021 01 24
Copyright © 2021 Olena N. Statsenko. Published by Vilnius University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY-NC-ND 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium provided the original author and source are credited.


The fact that a person is a social phenomenon and a biological being with inherent needs and requirements is indisputable. Along with the desire for communication and the tendency to fill the life with the value-implication social relations, as Bakhtin asserted, “to be means to communicate dialogically. When the dialogue ends, everything ends” (1972, p. 434), the biological need for food and warmth for human physical existence is undoubtedly considered as one of the most important (see, for example, Maslow, 1970; Obukhovskij, 2003; Alderfer, 1972). The paramount importance of these two human needs is an irrefutable factor in maintaining and continuing a person’s existence in comfortable conditions, but in survival, extreme situations these needs are aggravated. The fundamental component of the classical needs pyramid is physiological needs for food and safety. Maslow claimed: “A person who is lacking food, safety, love, and esteem would most probably hunger for food more strongly than for anything else. If all the needs are unsatisfied, and the physiological needs then dominate the organism, all other needs may become simply nonexistent or be pushed into the background” (Maslow, 1970, p. 37).Thus, all cognitive abilities of a hungry person are primarily subordinated to the search for food, an individual is not interested in such concepts like love, poetry and philosophy, a person craves for the satisfaction of a basic need for food. In this regard, the aforementioned biological needs become leading, come to the fore, and social ones become less significant: “not a search for truth is needed, but a search for food” (Shalamov, 2008, p. 779). Maslow calls the state of extreme hunger a “chronic extreme hunger of the emergency type” (1970, p. 38) and is convinced that a typical person living in conditions of a well-developed society experiences, such hunger rarely enough, once or twice in his life, because the task of every society is to ensure the satisfaction of the most pressing biological needs.

Being in harsh life circumstances, the individual is in constant search of daily bread and maintains the temperature regime necessary for existence. This is reflected in the peculiarities of the individual’s speech activity. Hence, the paper deals with the cognitive analysis of the basic concepts revealing the peculiar properties of person’s primary needs under the conditions of their frustration in the aspect of anthropocentrism, the new and relevant direction in linguistics “provides for the analysis of cognitive structures enabling human communication” (Dubtsova et al., 2020, p. 144). Givon defines the investigated sphere of the individual primary adaptive needs as follows: “a narrow circle of communicative topics limited by the most urgent adaptive needs: food, comfort, warmth, safety” and calls them basic (2015, p. 104). Human conceptualization (and therefore linguistic semantics), according to Lakoff (1987), has a metaphorical character and is based on the rethinking of the basic concepts of human experience. “If our capacity for categorization and reason is based on our basic bodily functioning and on our purposes, then it follows that the preservation of our bodily functioning and the maximal freedom to pursue our purposes are basic human values” (Lakoff, 1987, p. 302). Such concepts as satiety and its opposition hunger, the ability to experience cold and warmth, he emphasizes especially and considers them as “basic-level, directly meaningful concepts” (Lakoff, 1987, pp. 302–303). A cognitive analysis of discourse (see van Dijk, 1981; Givon, 2015; Lakoff, 1987; Longacre, 1992; Kibrik, 2003) belongs to the explanatory group of approaches and “assumes that language activity is one of the types of human cognitive activity, and language phenomena can be adequately understood only in the context of other cognitive processes, such as knowledge representation, memory, attention, consciousness” (Kibrik, 2003, p. 5). The considered cognitive processes belong to so-called off-line phenomena, including long-term memory, a system of categories and categorization, structures of knowledge representation, lexicon, etc. These phenomena are associated with the function of language as a system for the long-term storage of information in the individual’s mind. (Kibrik, 2003). Selected discourse, the subject of the research, refers to the narrative type, containing a framework of ordered in time events, which are described by the same type of grammatical forms (for example, verbs in the past tense, perfect aspect) and possesses certain sustainable morphosyntactic and lexical characteristics (Longacre, 1992). Although the representatives of the basic biological adaptive need food and warmth received a wide enough lexicographic description (see, for example, Fassmer, 2004; Ozhegov, 2006; Krylov, 2005; Fyodorov, 2008), but they were not subjected to a separate in-depth study in the context of current cognitive research. Precisely this point contains the novelty and relevance of the paper. The research aims to conduct a lingua-cognitive analysis of the lexemes bread, porridge, stove as the main representatives of the basic concepts of “food” and “warmth” in the textual and contextual aspects of discourse.

A shift in universal human values towards biological needs is revealed under the influence of food and warmth deprivation. This psychological phenomenon is reflected in the linguistic features of the analyzed discourse, among them: a grammar deviation from language norms; verbal utterances containing concepts of “food” with an abundance of diminutive-hypocoristic forms of speech; the phenomenon of ethnic bilingualism or diglossia; semantic modification of the phraseological units “considering a psychological attitude towards reality and emotional traits of a person” (Dubtsova et al., 2020, p. 144); pragmatic communication patterns – “a category of emotional types of communication interaction consists in positional, situational and other repetitions” (Suchkova, 2010, p. 149); communicative failures (Dubtsova et al., 2020) as a result of low-temperature conditions influence; method of literary styles mixing to enhance emotionality and linguistic expressiveness of the text. The aim of the study is achieved through these identified and analyzed linguistic features.

1. The linguistic features of the lexeme bread and its worth to a human of extreme situations

The connection between the cognitive abilities of a person experiencing primary needs deprivation and the language is undoubted. Indeed, “usual life, everyday needs of a person is an important argument for understanding the connection of lexical semantics and grammatical expression of a word with the conceptual system of language” (Radchuk, 2018, p. 80). A person torn out of the living standard, chronically lacking in food and warmth, and living solely on the impulse of these needs, can feel happiness and satisfaction at the slightest availability of these primary needs.

Let us follow the writer’s ability to bring to the fore the human need for food and how it relates to the lexical semantics and the grammatical expression of the word: “Uzhinal Shuhov bez hleba: dve porcii da eshche s hlebom – zhirno budet, hleb na zavtra pojdet. Bryuho – zlodej, starogo dobra ne pomnit, zavtra opyat’ sprosit” (Solzhenitsyn, 1989, p. 92). With this precise, completely unedited comparison, the author conveys the daily need to replenish the energy balance. A lexeme брюхо (bryuho) – belly usually occurred in the neuter singular inanimate, but in the context acquires the qualities of the animate subject: it has a memory and is in constant need for food. The etymological dictionary of Fassmer relates an Old Russian word брюхо (bryuho) – belly with the words шишка (shishka) – lump, набухать (nabuhat’) – to swell up, and with its common Slavic meaning выпуклость (vypuklost’) – convexity (2004, p. 225). In Ozhegov’s Dictionary a lexeme брюхо (bryuho) – belly has a connotation of “animal abdomen”, and only with a colloquial, negative meaning is used as a “large sized human stomach” (2006, p. 112). The use of vernacular, general parlance жирно будет, брюхо – злодей (zhirno budet, bryuho – zlodej) – to have enough, the belly is a villain allows the context to acquire new semantic shades of a negative character. Analyzing the implementation of the lexeme belly, it is necessary to focus on whether it acts as a separate subject, and on the resulting dualism. The expression жирно будет (zhirno budet) – to have enough is represented in a large number of lexicographic sources. For example, in the “Big Phrase Dictionary” of Michelson it is defined as “too much, too luxurious”, also it is represented in the form of paremia Брюхо злодей: старого добра не помнит (что ни день, то есть давай(Bryuho zlodej: starogo dobra ne pomnit (chto ni den’, to est’ davaj)) – The belly is a villain: does not remember the good things (one should give him to eat every day), “А брюхо-враг – вчерашнего не помнит” (A bryuho-vrag – vcherashnego ne pomnit) – The belly is an enemy – does not remember the food it was yesterday, Были сыты доселе, но брюхо злодей, старого добра не помнит, ему давай каждый день снова (Byli syty dosele, no bryuho zlodej, starogo dobra ne pomnit, emu davaj kazhdyj den’ snova) – Were full until now, but the belly is a villain, does not remember the good things, give him the food every day again (2005, p. 225). The opposition of good and evil is reflected: брюхо – злодей, добра не помнит (bryuho – zlodej, dobra ne pomnit) – the belly is a villain, it does not remember the good).

One of the important social aspects of life is a person’s material condition. Poverty and wealth are identified firstly and foremost with the availability or absence of food, especially bread for Slavic mentality, defined using the verbal markers иметь, быть (imet’, byt’) – to have, to be e. g. иметь кусок хлеба (imet’ kusok hleba) – to have a piece of bread; хлеб есть посох жизни (hleb est’ posoh zhizni) – bread is the staff of life; есть хлеб, будет и к хлебу (est’ hleb, budet i k hlebu) – if we have bread for eating, we’ll have more for eating with bread. Korolova et al. (2020, p. 181) noticed, that “in ancient Latvian proverbs belonging to this theme, very simple food (bread and porridge) is predominantly mentioned. The diet of Russian peasants did not differ from that of the Latvians (Latgalians). The Russians everywhere use the proverb “Хлеб да каша – пища наша” [Bread and porridge – our food]; “Хлеб да вода – молодецкая еда” [Bread and water – the food of the brave ones] (Preiļi district, Sanauža). Nevertheless, Latvian (Latgalian) proverbs may also feature a higher degree of wealth”. However, the symbol of bread for determining a person’s material welfare is ambivalent (Bobro, 2019, p. 8). On the one hand, the phraseological units such as иметь хлеб (imet’ hleb) – to have some bread; иметь кусок хлеба (imet’ kusok hleba) – to have a piece of bread, иметь хлеб насущный (imet’ hleb nasushchnyj) – to have a daily bread; хлеб есть (hleb est’) – to eat bread express its common lingua-cultural semantics “to have everything necessary for life, to be free from wants”. However, on the other hand, the value of bread is still relative. It turns out that the existence of bread alone is already an indicator of poverty: перебиваться с хлеба на воду/ квас/ соль (perebivat’sya s hleba na vodu/ kvas/ sol’) – to live from hand to mouth; сидеть на хлебе и воде (sidet’ na hlebe i vode – to live on bread and water; хлеб да вода – бедняка еда (hleb da voda – bednyaka eda) – bread and water are poor man’s food.

In the context of survival, there has been some reassessment of the concept of poverty and wealth. The presence of bread or porridge (also has a very special meaning for Slavic mentality) is the way for maintaining life’s energy in the body: “I kogda on otklonilsya – natyanulis’ ego bushlat i telogrejka, i levoj storonoj grudi, u serdca, on oshchutil, kak podavlivaet tverdoe chto-to. Eto tverdoe bylo – iz vnutrennego karmanchika ugol hlebnoj krayushki, toj poloviny utrennej pajki, kotoruyu on vzyal sebe na obed” (Solzhenitsyn, 1989, p. 30). The bread was kept by heart as a guarantee that life would continue. It should be emphasized that it is inappropriate for a person experiencing extreme hardship and surviving to use the diminutive-hypocoristic forms of speech. However, to describe the presence of such an important life factor as bread, the author makes an exception. Using the suffix -юшк- (-yushk-): краюшка (krayushka) – a small hunk of bread, instead of the common краюха (krayuha) – a hunk of bread, suffix -чик- (-chik-): карманчик (karmanchik) – a little pocket instead of the common карман (karman) – pocket within one sentence makes possible to realize the relevance of bread possession for a person in extreme conditions.

The abovementioned quotation is by no means the only proof that bread was of paramount importance to the survival of a person in a situation that threatened the existence. The writer repeatedly returns to the image of bread, emphasizing its primacy and supplementing it with specificity, resorting to a punctual description of the eating process. “Togda dostal hlebushek v beloj tryapochke i, derzha tryapochku v zapazushke, chtoby ni kroshka mimo toj tryapochki ne upala, stal pomalu-pomalu otkusyvat’ i zhevat’. Hleb on prones pod dvumya odezhkami, grel ego sobstvennym teplom – i ottogo on ne merzlyj byl nichut’” (Solzhenitsyn, 1989, p. 30). The purposely heated use of exceptionally diminutive-hypocoristic suffixes -yшек-(-ushek-), -очк-(-ochk-), -ушк-(-ushk-), -ежк-(-ezhk-) is clearly visible. The author thus focuses on the dominant, cornerstone relevance of bread to human survival.

In human basic needs deprivation, it is important to realize the food availability without updating its quantity. The feeling of saturation comes from the idea that a person has food, not from the amount of food consumed. “Est’ nado – chtob dumka byla na odnoj ede, vot kak sejchas eti kusochki malye otkusyvaesh’, i yazykom ih mnesh’, i shchekami podsasyvaesh’ – i takoj tebe duhovityj etot hleb chernyj syroj” (Solzhenitsyn, 1989, p. 31). The author used the word from the passive lexical reserve думка (dumka) – thought instead of a standard мысль (mysl’) – thought, which is preserved in Ukrainian language asset but seems out of Russian character. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as ethnic bilingualism or diglossia, which is characteristic of ethnically heterogeneous societies and manifests itself in various social micro-structures. In our case, an individual with limited freedom of movement and constant contact with foreign-language speakers perceives their speech as native. In extreme need and deprivation conditions, the boundaries between languages are blurred, and the common problem is that of survival. So it gives global significance to the process of quenching hunger. Also, the author enriches Russian by expanding the language and including loan words. The use of an abnormal preposition of place на (na) – on in the phrase на одной еде (na odnoj ede) – only on food in contrast to the generally accepted об (ob) – about helps to increase the perception of food importance. The further addition with a short adjective form малые (malye) – small standing after the determined subjective кусочки (kusochki) – small pieces, gives the feeling of a deliberate solemnity of the meal. As a short form of adjectives is a linguistic feature of a high style; however, there is no contrasting opposition.

In the places of detention bearing constant need and deprivation, people use bread instead of the cutlery as a spoon, which is often a luxury in the abovementioned situation. The surviving individual does not burden himself with thinking about the cutlery, but only about the food itself. “Doel Shuhov pajku svoyu do samyh ruk, odnako goloj korochki kusok – polukrugloj verhnej korochki – ostavil. Potomu chto nikakoj lozhkoj tak dochista kashi ne vyesh’ iz miski, kak hlebom.” (Solzhenitsyn, 1989, p. 32). Emphasize the phrase доел до самых рук (doel do samyh ruk) – finished eating to the very hands, which is used in the meaning “to eat all food that there were available”. Unregistered by lexicographic sources, this phraseological unit is occasional. In “Phraseology Dictionary of Russian Literary Language” by A. Fyodorov we can find a synonymic expression до последней капли (do poslednej kapli) – up to the last drop, which is used in the expressive colloquial style and has the meaning “everything without a trace, to the bottom” (2008, p. 124). Nevertheless, this literary phraseological unit was clearly not sufficiently expressive for the writer, and he gave preference to an authorial one with the extraordinary internal strain and emotional tension.

The next example brings to light the fact that bread valuable not only for the individual life but also for an entire generation and a particular historical period. “A tebe – hleba dvesti gramm lishnih v vecher. Dvesti gramm zhizn’yu pravyat. Na dvesti grammah Belomorkanal postroen” (Solzhenitsyn, 1989, p. 38). The use of synecdoche (a variant of metonymy) двести грамм (dvesti gramm) – two hundred grams, combined with a hyperbola жизнью правят (zhizn’yu pravyat) – rule the life, increases the possibilities of reflecting a harsh reality where human life depends on a portion of two hundred grams of bread. Deviation from the normal (using грамм (gramm)) – grams instead of граммов (grammov) – of grams, on the one hand, is a colloquial speech marker, which emphasizes the hardships of a man in difficult circumstances, and on the other strengthens the opposition of the verb правят (pravyat) – rule, which is used in the Official style. Stylistic heterogeneity makes it clear that such a small chunk of bread plays an unprecedented role in life management. In a concise phrase the writer depicts the huge emotional and evaluative burden that the concept bread carries.

2. Linguistic features of the lexeme porridge in textual and contextual aspects of discourse

Point out that bread and porridge have long been the main, irreplaceable dish for the Slavic peoples in the daily ration. It is archetypal Russian, important and beloved food. The fact is evidenced by the paremia: Щи да каш пища наша (SHCHi da kasha – pishcha nasha) – cabbage soup and porridge is our food; Щи да каша – жизнь (мать) наша; (SHCHi da kasha – zhizn’ (mat’) nasha)   cabbage soup and porridge is our life (mother) (Zhukov, 2000, p. 367). The identification of the concept of “porridge” with the notions of life, mother and food in general meaning demonstrates the people’s great esteem for the dish and the reason to speak about this product as a component of Russian mentality. Under conditions of extreme survival, its relevance goes without any exception. Moreover, a portion of prepared cereal (any species) was highly appreciated: “Pavlo protyanul emu kashu, ne sprashivaya, hochet li on. Brovi Bujnovskogo podnyalis’, glaza ego smotreli na kashu, kak na chudo nevidannoe. Vinovataya ulybka razdvinula istreskannye guby kapitana, hodivshego i vokrug Evropy, i Velikim severnym putem. I on naklonilsya, schastlivyj, nad nepolnym cherpakom zhidkoj ovsyanoj kashi, bezzhirnoj vovse, – nad ovsom i vodoj” (Solzhenitsyn, 1989, p. 50). The author chooses for this dish a very expressive folk-poetic comparison, taken from Russian folklore как на чудо невиданное (kak na chudo nevidannoe) – like an unprecedented miracle, emphasizing porridge exclusivity and primacy for human nutrition. However, in the conditions of survival, a person can feel happy and quite satisfied with even this simple food. This is confirmed by the following quotation: “Na vtoroe byla kasha iz magary. Ona zastyla v odin slitok, Shuhov ee otlamyval kusochkami. Magara ne to chto holodnaya – ona i goryachaya ni vkusa, ni sytosti ne ostavlyaet: trava i trava, tol’ko zheltaya, pod vid pshena. Pridumali davat’ ee vmesto krupy, govoryat – ot kitajcev. V varenom vese trista gramm tyanet – i lady: kasha ne kasha, a idet za kashu” (Solzhenitsyn, 1989, p. 11). Thanks to this unusual, colloquial opposition каша не каша, а идёт за кашу (kasha ne kasha, a idyot za kashu) – It is a porridge or not, but might be eaten as a porridge, the writer manages to depict a kind of porridge as being completely unfit for food, but with some similarity to it. In other words, anything that resembled porridge is useful to saturate a person in extreme conditions.

It is generally known that magara is a one-year-old cultural plant of the grass family (lat. Setaria), sometimes called bristlegrass. This is an unpopular grain for our geographical latitudes nowadays, but it was cultivated mainly in the Northern Caucasus, Western Siberia and Kazakhstan. It is very common as Siberian millet in China and the Far East. “According to the historical documents, long before the widespread introduction of rice farming in China, millet had been the first crop cultivated in the region, which had ensured the survival of the people” (Fomenko et al., 2020, p. 160). Ivan Denisovich, the main protagonist of the narrative, believes that the Chinese usually eat this product. The refined grain certainly looks like millet, only a smaller one. “The concept of “millet” in Chinese is associated with an enduring person who always finds a way out of difficult situations. For example, the chengyu 黍谷生春, which can be literally translated as “millet is being revived to life”, means finding a way out of a difficult situation and making dramatic changes for the better” (Fomenko et al., 2020, p. 160). Of course, the writer did not compare the concept of “millet” and the character of the protagonist, but Ivan Denisovich has an outstanding ability to overcome various difficulties in harsh life circumstances. Shalamov also confirmed that this product was eaten in the places of detention: “Krupa dvadcati naimenovanij, vovse ne izvestnaya nam v techenie vsej nashej zhizni: magar, pshenichnaya sechka – vse eto bylo chereschur zagadochno. I strashno” (1998, p. 36). Thus, unusual food negatively affects the human mental state and can cause the feelings of anxiety and even fear. The quote abounds in negative particles не and ни (ne, ni) – no, not: “не то что холодная – она и горячая ни вкуса, ни сытости не оставляет” (ne to chto holodnaya – ona i goryachaya ni vkusa, ni sytosti ne ostavlyaet) – now it is cold, but even being hot it leaves neither taste nor satiety, which increases the denial, negativity, as well as emphasizes the value of porridge even with magara for a hungry person. Based on a linguistic analysis of the lexemes bread and porridge, it is concluded, that these kinds of food acquire a special value meaning under extreme conditions, the importance and absolute priority for the individual existential needs increase exponentially.

3. The concept warmth as a necessary attribute of “food” in the textual aspect of discourse

Human perception and understanding of the existing conditions inevitably lead to the selectivity of categories most relevant for maintaining life. As Nikolayeva claims, “Attributing certain objectively inherent properties to the objects and phenomena of the surrounding world, a person demonstrates concern to these properties” (1983, p. 235). Understanding the relevance to a person in the difficult conditions processes affects language means he chooses to describe the processes. In the stories, Solzhenitsyn highlights the essential characteristic of food as warmth. “Shuhov derzhalsya na odnom tol’ko zhelanii: uspet’ v stolovuyu so svoej brigadoj i balandu s”est’ goryachej, a ne holodnoj. Holodnaya i polceny ne imela protiv goryachej” (Solzhenitsyn, 1989, p. 84). With the help of such a concise antonymic contrasting горячей, а не холодной (goryachej, a ne holodnoj) – hot, but not cold, the author determines the priority of warm food consumption. Note that antithesis is present in both the first and second parts of the quote: холодная против горячей (holodnaya protiv goryachej) – cold vs hot. The parcelling of the phraseology полцены не имела (polceny ne imela) – have not half of the price highlights and reinforces the awareness that a cold food lost its value.

The primacy of food in extreme situations is undeniable, but the understanding that food does not meet the thermal characteristics necessary for life leads to insufficient satisfaction of this needs both physically and psychologically: “Iz-za togo, chto bez pajki zavtrakal i chto holodnoe vse s”el, chuvstvoval sebya SHuhov segodnya nesytym” (Solzhenitsyn, 1989, p. 25). The context emphasizes that a person has no feeling of nourishment because of consuming cold food. It is backed up by an anthropomorphic metaphor чтобы брюхо не занывало, есть не просило (chtoby bryuho ne zanyvalo, est’ ne prosilo) – so that the belly does not whine, does not ask for food. The following quote also confirms this: “Odna radost’ v balande byvaet, chto goryacha, no SHuhovu dostalas’ teper’ sovsem holodnaya. Odnako on stal est’ ee tak zhe medlenno, vnimchivo” (Solzhenitsyn, 1989, p. 11). The process of consumption itself is changing, which the writer notes with adverbial epithets медленно, внимчиво (medlenno, vnimchivo) – slowly, attentively. A man takes his time absorbing food to get even a little bit saturated and comprehend the eating process cognitively. Consequently, the individual does not feel enough physical saturation, as the food is cold, so he tries to perceive satiety cognitively. Thus, the process of recognizing the nomination of food as warm or hot occurs at the cognitive level, assuming what kind of food is more valuable and relevant in survival conditions.

4. Verbalization of the concept warmth as a basic biological need in the textual aspect of discourse

It should be noted that the nomination of “warmth” is relevant not only as a temperature characteristic of food but also in general meaning under unfavourable climatic conditions for living, e. g. in the northern regions, where the main character of the investigated narrative was. Under such circumstances, the individual becomes extremely dependent, both physically and psychologically, on the warmth itself and its sources. The following quote proves this: “U vsekh u nih golova ushla v plechi, bushlaty zapahnuty, i vsem im holodno ne tak ot moroza, kak ot dumki, chto i den’ celyj na etom moroze probyt’” (Solzhenitsyn, 1989, p. 6). With a metaphorical expression голова ушла в плечи (golova ushla v plechi) – the head went into the shoulders, the writer represents the difficult emotional state of a person who is trying to protect himself in this way from the negative weather conditions. This semantic transformation of the phraseological unit is not accidental; it reflects the internal, mental, and physical and physiological state. Thus, Solzhenitsyn shows that a person is trying to distance himself from the negative influences of the external environment in a mental way. Repetitions actualize the fact that every person in the described conditions suffers from the cold: у всех у них, и всем им (u vsekh u nih, i vsem im) – all of them, and for all of them. The factor of a communicative environment is always important for a human being. The exception to this statement is the presence of negative temperature conditions: “V kolonne, kogda poteplej, vse razgovarivayut – krichi ne krichi na nih. A segodnya prignulis’ vse, kazhdyj za spinu perednego horonitsya, i ushli v svoi dumki” (Solzhenitsyn, 1989, p. 25). Thus, for communication an individual needs a comfortable thermal regime and its absence leads to a reluctance to enter into a communicative relationship with each other: ушли в свои думки (ushli v svoi dumki) – went into their own thoughts, an author’s phraseological phrase, which is emotionally more expressive thanks to the use of the lexeme думка (dumka) – thought, in comparison with the literary “уйти (уходить) в себя (ujti (uhodit’) v sebya) – withdraw into oneself – to become uncommunicative, withdrawn, to focus on thoughts, experiences” (Tikhonov, 2007, p. 301).

It is known that since ancient times a stove served as the main source of heat in the premises. It was one of the initial constructions to be built in a new house and was located in the middle of the living space for uniform heating. Its main role has not changed in extreme conditions. Solzhenitsyn conveys his impressions of the furnace in such a way: “Da i russkaya pech’, kak ya priglyadelsya, neudobna dlya stryapni. No potomu, dolzhno byt’, prishla ona k nashim predkam iz samogo kamennogo veka, chto, protoplennaya raz na dosvet’i, ves’ den’ hranit v sebe teplymi korm i pojlo dlya skota, pishchu i vodu dlya cheloveka. I spat’ teplo” (Solzhenitsyn, 1989, p. 118). According to the author, the stove is better suited for keeping the room warm than preparing food. Moreover, that is why it is necessary to use (this is what happened in Russian villages and suburbs even after the invention of electricity and central heating) and does not lose its relevance to maintain vital temperature conditions for a person who is in conditions of constant cold: “A mig – nash! Poka nachal’stvo razberetsya – pritknis’, gde poteplej, syad’, sidi, eshche nalomaesh’ spinu. Horosho, esli okolo pechki – portyanki pereobernut’ da sogret’ ih malost’. Togda vo ves’ den’ nogi budut teplye” (Solzhenitsyn, 1989, p. 30). In prison camps conditions, the stove is the only source of heat, near which, even once warmed up, it is possible not to freeze during the day. The author confirms this by varying the adjectives in comparative degree: теплей, потеплей (teplej, poteplej) – warm, warmer, emphasizing the importance of obtaining heating in difficult weather conditions.


Thus, the cognitive analysis of the lexical units representing primary human needs in the textual and contextual aspects of discourse demonstrates that the psychological state of this basic needs deprivation affects the nature and thematic content of the communication.

Due to the Slavic mentality, the tokens food and bread are equal in their associative meaning, which is also confirmed by the abundance of phraseological units, especially paremias which include the lexeme bread. Accordingly, the need for food, therefore for bread, is cognitively conditioned. The token bread is shown as an indicator of the human well-being level based on the Slavic and foreign paremias. So the image of bread carries an extremely positive, life-affirming load in human cognitive world perception, which is confirmed by the examples of discourse as well as by a great number of linguistic means, such as diminutive-hypocoristic suffixes which lexemes denoting bread contain, ethnic bilingualism, reference to Old Slavonic tokens etc. Porridge is another important food product for Slavic culture, which is reflected in the discourse under study. For a person in difficult living conditions, the cognitive perception of the word porridge is equal in value with the lexeme bread. These two concepts become incredibly important and irreplaceable sources of life energy in extreme living conditions. The etymological references and the phraseological units containing mentioned lexeme confirm that a person in extreme situations gives a special meaning to this verbal unit.

The study analyzes the nomination warmth, which has an associative link with the concept of food. The lexeme stove revealed the direct associations with the researched nomination. The analyzed contexts with the word stove, which is the primary source of warmth, contain various adjective and adverbial formations with a common root, confirming their direct connection. The research includes the description of the stable linguistic figures of speech transformation in the context of A. Solzhenitsyn’s short prose. In particular, the revealed semantic modification of the phraseological units with the lexemes warmth, stove. In intentionally changed stable expressions, the mental and physiological state of a person is represented, emphasising the connection between language and the cognitive processes of an individual.

The discussion confirms that the primary human needs for food and warmth are actualized in extreme conditions, and, as a consequence, there is a shift in universal values and the priority of basic physiological needs, which is confirmed by the revealed linguistic features of discourse. The material of the discussion opens opportunities for further linguistics researches in the field of comparative lexicology (comparison of the basic concepts of “food” and “warmth” significance in the linguistic features of foreign languages and cultures), as well as in practical phycology (to prevent, verbally identify and successfully overcome psychological deviations arising from the frustration of basic physiological needs).


Solzhenitsyn, A. I., 1989. Rasskazy. [Stories]. Moskva: Sovremennik. [In Russian]


Fassmer, M., 2004. Etimologicheskij slovar’ russkogo yazyka. [The etymological dictionary of the Russian language]. T. 1. Moskva: Progress. [In Russian]

Fyodorov, A. I., 2008. Frazeologicheskij slovar’ russkogo literaturnogo yazyka. [The Phraseological dictionary of the Russian literary language]. Moskva: Astrel’, AST. [In Russian]

Krylov, G. A., 2005. Etimologicheskij slovar’ russkogo yazyka. [The etymological dictionary of the Russian language]. Sankt-Peterburg: Victory. [In Russian]

Mihelson, M. I., 2005. Bol’shoj tolkovo-frazeologicheskij slovar’. [Big explanatory phraseological dictionary]. Moskva: Astrel. [In Russian]

Ozhegov, S. I., Shvedova, N. Y., 2006. Tolkovyj slovar’ russkogo yazyka. [The Explanatory Dictionary of the Russian Language]. Moskva: Russkij yazyk. [In Russian]

Tihonov, A. N., 2007. Frazeologicheskij slovar’ russkogo yazyka. [The phraseological dictionary of the Russian language]. Moskva: Russkij yazyk-Media. [In Russian]

Zhukov, V. P., 2000. Slovar’ russkih poslovic i pogovorok. [Dictionary of Russian proverbs and sayings]. Moskva: Russkij yazyk. [In Russian]


Alderfer, C. P., 1972. Existence, Relatedness, and Growth; Human Needs in Organizational Settings. New York: Free Press.

Bahtin, M. M., 1972. Problemy poetiki Dostoevskogo Problems of Dostoevsky’s poetics. [Problems of Dostoevsky’s poetics]. [e-book]. Moskva: Hudozhestvennaya literature [In Russian]

Bobro, M. P., 2019. Aksіologіchnі ta lіngvokul’turnі parametri konceptu zhittya yak skladnika ukraїns’koї konceptosferi. [Axiological and linguocultural parameters of the concept life as a folder of the Ukrainian concept sphere]. Ph.D. Harkіvs’kij nacіonal’nij pedagogіchnij unіversitet іmenі G. S. Skovorodi. [in Ukrainian]

Dubtsova, O., Petrenko, V., Kovalenko, O., Samsonenko, N., 2020. Lingua-Ethological Causes of Communicative Failures: Pragmatic Aspect. Journal of Educational and Social Research, 10 (1), pp. 143–151.

Fomenko, T., Bilotserkovets, M., Klochkova, T., Statsenko O., Sbruieva, A., Kozlova, O., Kozlov, D., 2020. Overcoming Barriers in Intercultural Communication: A Case Study on Agricultural Idioms in English, Ukrainian and Chinese. Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, 9 (6), pp. 157–166.

Givon, T., 2015. Slozhnost’ i razvitie. In: YAzyk i mysl’. Sovremennaya kognitivnaya lingvistika. Moskva: Yazyki slavyanskoj kul’tury, pp. 89–123. [In Russian]

Kibrik, A. A., 2003. Analiz diskursa v kognitivnoj perspective. [Discourse analysis in a cognitive perspective]. PhD. Moskva: Institut yazykoznaniya RAN. [In Russian]

Korolova, J., Kovzele, O., Kacane, I., 2020. Paremias of the Latvians and the Russians in Latgale: from the Holy Scripture to Modern Existence. Respectus Philologicus, 38 (43), p. 176–189. Available at: {Accessed 10 December 2020].

Lakoff, G., 1987. Women, fire, and dangerous things. What Categories Reveal about the Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Longacre, R., 1992. The Discourse Strategy of an Appeals Letter. In: Discourse Description. Diverse linguistic analyses of a fund-raising text. Amsterdam: J. Benjamins Pub. Co, pp. 109–130.

Maslow, A., 1970. Motivation and personality. New York: Harper & Row.

Nikolaeva, T. M., 1983. Kachestvennye prilagatel’nye i otrazhenie kartiny mira. [Qualitative adjectives and the reflection of the “world picture”]. Slavyanskoe i balkanskoe yazykoznanie. Problemy leksikologii. Moskva: Nauka, pp. 235–236. [In Russian]

Obuhovskij, K., 2003. Galaktika potrebnostej. Psihologiya vlechenij cheloveka. [Galaxy of needs. Psychology of human attractions]. Moskva: SPb. Rech’. [In Russian]

Radchuk, O. V., 2018. Kognitivnyj podhod k izucheniyu vzaimovliyaniya yazykov pri utrate kontaktnogo prozhivaniya. [Cognitive approach to the study of the mutual influence of languages in the loss of contact living]. Kommunikativnoe prostranstvo Belarusi. Tezisy Mezhdunarodnoj nauchnoj konferencii. Minsk: Minskij gosudarstvennyj lingvisticheskij universitet, pp. 79–82 [In Russian]

Shalamov, V. T., 1998. Sobranie sochinenij. [Collected works]. T. 1. Moskva: Hudozhestvennaja literature. [In Russian]

Shalamov, V. T., 2008. Kolymskie rasskazy. Stihotvoreniya. [Kolyma stories. Poems]. Moskva: Eksmo, pp. 179–180. [In Russian]

Suchkova, G. M., 2010. Pattern kommunikacii kak tip emocional’nal’nogo obshcheniya. [Communication pattern as a type of emotional communication]. Vestnik VGU. Seriya: Lingvistika i mezhkul’turnaya kommunikaciya, 2, pp. 149–154. [In Russian]

Van Dijk, T. A., 1981. Studies in the pragmatics of discourse. The Hague: Mouton.