Pavenkov O.S. Contemporary linguistic analysis of the concept “Love”

Выпуск журнала: 

УДК 81-114.2


Pavenkov O.S.

This article is devoted to the linguistic analysis of the concept "love" conducted according to contemporary science of language. The author considered three approaches of concept analysis: philosophical, lingua-cognitive and lingua-cultural. The common view of these approaches is considering "love" not only as the basic element of the personal language but also as the expression of cultural features of the whole nation. To conclude, the concept "love" occupies the primary position  among such concepts as "happiness", "hope", "faith", "goodness". Emotional, cognitive and volitional aspects are necessarily presented in united love.

Keywords: concept, love, lingua-cognitive approach, lingua-cultural approach, cultural value.



Павенков О.С.

Статья посвящена лингвистическому анализу концепта любви, осуществляемому  в современном языкознании. Автор рассмотрел три подхода к анализу концепта любви: философский, лингво-когнитивный, лингво-культурологический подходы.  Общность этих трех подходов состоит в том, что  концепт любви рассматривается не только как базовый элемент языка личности, но как выражение культурных особенностей народа. Сделан  вывод, что концепт любви занимает лидирующее положение среди концептов счастья, надежды, веры и добра. Не только эмоциональные, но и когнитивные и волевые аспекты обязательно присутствуют в единой любви. 

Ключевые слова: концепт, любовь, лингво-когнитивный подход, лингво-культурологический подход, культурная ценность. 


The urgency of this article is explained by two fundamental ideas of European linguistics: 

1. The idea of relationship between culture and language, philosophy of love and linguistic. Traditional European linguistic science have influenced the emergence of applied linguistics and pragmatics as an independent linguistic discipline.

2. The idea of existential significance of caritative love as spiritual feeling, the importance of  study of love in the framework of applied linguistics.

The appearance of new directions of research in the field of linguistics is explained by the change of paradigms in linguistics. The current stage of development of humanitarian knowledge is characterized by the important methodological shift in the integration of linguistic knowledge and modern methods of statistical research. It is emerged new linguistic disciplines, which study the language with connection to the human consciousness and thought, culture and spiritual life of people. According to this trend, study of concept of love becomes important.

The term "concept", which came in applied linguistic from logic and mathematics, becomes more widespread. The analysis of conceptual framework was conducted in philosophical, lingua-cognitive and lingua-cultural works: G. Deleuze [6], F. Guattari [6], S.G. Vorkachev [4; 5; 6], M.V. Nikitin [12], B.A. Serebrennikov [13], V.V. Kolesov [9], V.G. Zussman [8] and others. There are three main approaches to the definition of concept:

1. Philosophical approach. Concept is considered as integrity, reflecting the content of text (Deleuze and Guattari).

 Deleuze and Guattari in the work "What is philosophy?" give the following definition of the concept: the concept "is an whole unity, because totalize its components, however, it is the fragmentary whole. Only in this way it can stand out from the chaos of mental life" [7, p. 21-22]. Therefore, the concept of love (not love itself) must have components that is, the forms of the concept, but love itself cannot have any components, because love is unity. Of course, the concept of love is not trivial, it is the philosophical and linguistic concept. Like any concept, the concept of love is created «depending on the problems which are represented for us badly seen or ill-posed (pedagogy of the concept)» [7, p. 22]. Problems of lacking and primitivization understanding of love in modern society set the focus of the conceptual constructing. J. Deleuze and F. Guattari write: «The philosophical concept ... itself, on account of its creative consistency, creates an event » [7, p. 41]. Clarifying words of Deleuze and Guattari, we argue that the concept of love creates co-existence of individuals, which we can understand in the context of situation.

The concept of love is not static, but it has own history. Concept of love is connected with other concepts, for example, with such concepts as "friendship", "communication", "virtue" – «not only in its history but also in its formation» [7, p. 40].

Thus, the creative nature of the concept is connected with creative power of love, which has the ability to overcome differences between people and to make peace and order in the sphere of interpersonal relations.

2. Lingua-cognitive approach. This approach involves the views of those thinkers who consider the concept as a synonym (M.V. Nikitin, B.A. Serebrennikov). They carried out lingua-cognitive research of the concept.

M. Nikitin points out that there is the correlation between the concept and meaning: «When we speak about the concepts and values, we are essentially dealing with the same object – conceptual level of abstracting summarizing units of consciousness... Meanings save all that refers to the concepts: content, structure, system ties, the character of the reflective nature etc., because the meanings are  concepts» [12, p. 42]. Ideas and concepts are so related with each other, that «it is prohibited to deny their significant intersections and overlay, as well as their constant interaction and mutual enrichment» [13, p. 144].

M. Nikitin in his book "Foundations of linguistic theory of meaning" (1988) considers as opposed the level of values and the level of concepts. B. Serebrennikov continues the tradition of M. Nikitin and distinguishes meaning and concept. It is noteworthy that during the discussion of the components of the conceptual system B. Serebrennikov considers verbal and nonverbal concepts. The substantial part of the conceptual system consists of the first type concepts - verbal concept. The author studied the relationship the world of reality and the world of their concepts in the mind of person [13, p. 170].  Serebrennikov opens new level of understanding of the concept. The concept of love combines the verbal and nonverbal components, because words and actions, and feelings are involved in love. It determinates the uniqueness of the concept of love. 

   Thus, these authors consider the concept as generalizing, abstracted and included in the basic conceptual layers of mental structure of man. Lingua-cognitive approach to the study of the concept of love and its lexical representation allows to reveal specific logic of Russian religious philosophers as representatives of specific type of consciousness expressed in language. Language is one of the main means of verbal or non-verbal expression of the consciousness of personality, his conceptual sphere.  Lingua-cognitive approach opens for researches content and inner deeper structure of concept of love and his sybconcepts (secondary concepts): apape, eros, filio etc. 

3. Lingua-cultural approach (V. Karasik, V. Zussman). Using this approach researcher can gain information about inner structure of concepts, identify system of values and appreciation, which is influenced by the cultural and spiritual experience of mankind. Lingua-cultural approach focuses on the study of cultural concepts. According to lingua-cultural approach developed by Karasik the concept is considered as the basic unit of culture. V. Zussman suggests that «the concept is always part of the whole, which is influenced by the system as a whole... Concept is micro-model of culture, and culture is the macro-model concept. The concept creates a culture and it is generated by culture» [8, p. 41]. The researcher draws a parallel between man as a microcosm and the macrocosm and the concept as a microcosm of culture and culture as a macrocosm. This kind of comparative research allows to make the conclusion about possibility of the reconstruction of the entire system of concepts of specific culture.

Thus lingua-cultural approach considers concepts as cultural phenomena. Concept of love have complex inner structure and are expressed as an integral component of linguistic systems.

 We have to solve the following issue: what is the type of concept of love? The researchers describe the various kinds of concepts: lingua-cultural, age-related, grammar, emotional, lexical, phraseological, syntactic and others. Russian researcher N.N. Boldyrev developed the classification of concepts: 

1. Concrete sensible image;

2. Representation (generalized sensible image);

3. Scheme – the mind pattern of the object or phenomenon, which has space-boundary character;

4. Concept. Concept contains the most common, essential features of object or phenomenon, its objective, logically engineered characteristics. There are not secondary attributes in the concepts;

5. Prototype – the categorical concept, which gives an idea about the typical member of a particular category, providing foundation for the conceptualization;

6. Propositional structure, or proposition is the model of a particular sphere of experience. Model consists of elements: the arguments, the ties between them. And their characteristics. Proposition is generalized logical model of relations, which is reflected in the grammar;

7. Frame – complex multi-component concept, the "package" of information, knowledge about a stereotypical situation. Scripts – a presented dynamically frames. Script consists of  episodes developing during the time step-by-step. 

8. Gestalt – a conceptual structure, complete image that combines the sensual and rational components in their unity and wholeness. Gestalt is a result of holistic, undifferentiated perception of the situation, the highest level of abstraction; non-discrete, unstructured knowledge [1, p. 36-38].

Thus, despite the diversity of existing approaches to the study of the concept in modern linguistics, the common view is that the concept of love is considered as not only basic element of language of the individual, but also it is the expression of cultural features of the people. We suggest that the concept of love is a gestalt, because:

1. The concept of love combines rational and irrational components. (Pavenkov O.V.).

2. The concept of love is present at the will, feelings and the mind of man [16; 17].

In recent decades of development of modern linguistics, the concept of "Love" was analyzed in the following directions: 

1. Love as the component of national mentality. Some researchers consider this concept through the prism of national mentality. Love is the Russian cultural dominant, it is a special linguistic and cultural value (Kolesov V.V.);

2. Love as meta-linguistic concept. Researchers of this direction try to find a ways for adequate interpretation of love, which is connected with meta-language (Werzbickaya A.).

3. Love as lingua-cultural concept. Researchers investigate the specificity of the concept of "love" in Russian and English languages, described etnosemantics of the concepts "Love" and "Happiness" in Russian and English langauges (Vorkachev S.G.). Vorkachev notices that «in contrast to its nearest "teleonomical neighbor" –   happiness, it is impossible to describe the concept of love in terms of the essential features, which is connected with the specific causes of this feeling» [6, p. 136]. Christianity points out these specific causes, which unknown for science. 

4. Love as irrational feeling (semantical model of love). L.E. Kuznetsova  analyzed of ideas of love in the ethical and psychological research and creates a semantic model of the concept of love. Love in human is a deep, irrational feelings of man,  directed to another person, generating strong emotions. Respect, care and tenderness are expressions of love.

Researcher analyzed descriptions of love as interpersonal feelings in ethical and psychological work. Based on the results of her investigation Kuznetsova has revealed the following characteristics of semantic model of the concept of love: 

1) The integral concept "value". Love as value;

2) The central position of love in the value system;

3) Concept of love is "positive";

4) Unmotivated choice of love object, its involuntariness;

5) Individuality love object;

6) Sexually colored (in the forms of erotic "love") [10, p. 202]. From our point of view sexually colored "love" is not love, because the essence of love is clean altruistic sacrifice, which has been liberated from all egoism, passion and lust.  

S. Stepanov, analyzing the token "love", "humor", "like" highlights such important component of the concept of "love" as "mutual similarity." The researcher points out that of the inner form of the concept is caused by the mutual similarity of two persons and their actions [14].

Love as a universal value culture [11, p. 384], which directed on the object as something certainly valuable. According to S.G. Vorkachev, love is «teleonomical squared concept»: it forms the meaning of individual life both through going out from individual existence, and through the striving for the unity with the absolute Good [4, p. 41]. Teleonomical concepts is considered by Vorkachev as «higher spiritual values that form and embody the moral ideal for human. The striving for moral ideal creates the moral justification of his life...» [6].

The concept of love reflects the understanding of the basic, fundamental values and the "existential benefits" [2, p. 75], which expressed the basic beliefs, principles, and goals in life, and is in line with the concept of "happiness", "Faith", "hope". It is directly linked with the formation of the human meaning of life as goals that go beyond its immediate individual existence [6].

Thus, the common idea of these directions of research is that love is considered as one of the key concepts of thought and culture. The concept of love occupies primary position among such concepts as happiness, hope, faith, good. The concept of love is worldview universal value, which establishes «the base of culture» [15, p. 8], and the main spiritual value connected with the meaning of life. Love is not only feeling or emotion. An emotional, cognitive and volitional aspect necessarily exists in united love. There is no love without these aspects, however love does not consists on these aspects because love is unity and there are not elements in love.   



1. Болдырев Н.Н. Концепт и значение слова // Методические проблемы когнитивной лингвистики. – Воронеж: ВГУ, 2001.

2. Брудный А. А. Психологическая герменевтика. – М., 1998.

3. Вежбицкая А. Толкование эмоциональных концептов // Вежбицкая А. Язык. Культура. Познание. – М.: Рус. словари, 1997.

4. Воркачев С.Г. Любовь как лингвокультурный концепт. Монография – М.: Гнозис, 2007.

5. Воркачев С.Г. Концепт счастья в русском языковом сознании: опыт лингвокультурологического анализа. – Краснодар:  КГТУ, 2002. 

6. Воркачев, С.Г. Сопоставительная этносемантика телеономных концептов «любовь» и «сча¬стье» (русско-английские параллели): моно¬графия. –  Волгоград: Перемена, 2003. 

7. Делез Ж., Гваттари Ф. Что такое философия? / Пер.с фр. и послесл. Зенкина С. – М.: Академический проект, 2009.

8. Зусман В.Г. Концепт в культурологическом аспекте // Межкультурная коммуникация: Учеб. пособие. – Нижний Новгород: Деком, 2001.

9. Колесов В.В. Язык и ментальность. – СПб.: Петербургское Востоковедение, 2004.

10. Кузнецова Л.Э. Любовь. Антология концептов. Т. 3. / Под ред. В.И. Карасика, И.А. Стернина. – Волгоград: Парадигма, 2006. 

11. Можейко М. А. Любовь //Новейший философский словарь. – Минск, 1999/

12. Никитин М.В. Основы лингвистической теории значения. – М.: Высш. шк., 1988.

13. Серебренников Б.А. Роль человеческого фактора в языке: Язык и картина мира. – М.: Наука, 1988.

14. Степанов Ю.С. Концепт [Электронный ресурс] // Poetica [сайт]. 2014. URL: (accessed on 06.12.2014).

15. Степин В.С. Философия в современной культуре: новые перспективы. (Материалы «круглого стола») // Вопросы философии. 2004. № 4. 

16. Pavenkov O.V. Metaphysics of caritative love of Lossky N.O. [Электронный ресурс] // La Filosofia rusa, philosophy of Russia, Russian philosophy in Spain. 2014. URL:  (accessed on 05.05.2014)

17. Pavenkov O.V. Metaphysics of Love in the Religious Philosophy of P. A. Florensky [Электронный ресурс] // La Filosofia rusa, philosophy of Russia, Russian philosophy in Spain. 2014. URL: (accessed on 05.05.2014).


Сведения об авторе:

Павенков Олег Владимирович –  кандидат философских наук, старший преподаватель Санкт-Петербургского государственного университета кино и телевидения, аспирант Санкт-Петербургской Православной Духовной Академии (Санкт-Петербург, Россия).

Data about the author:

Pavenkov Oleg Vladimirovich – Candidate of Philosophical Sciences, Senior Lecturer, St. Petersburg State University of Cinema and Television, graduate student of Saint Petersburg Theological Academy (Saint Petersburg, Russia).