Death and Disease Themed Curses in Turkish and Russian: A Comparison from the Perspective of Cultural Linguistics


MILLI FOLKLOR, no.132, pp.126-139, 2021 (AHCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Journal Name: MILLI FOLKLOR
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Linguistics & Language Behavior Abstracts, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.126-139
  • Keywords: Cultural linguistics, Turkish and Russian curses, speech acts, formulaic expressions, cultural signs
  • Ankara Haci Bayram Veli University Affiliated: Yes


Curses which express negative wishes such as material or moral harm, disease, death and disasters contain information about the common fears, worries, unaccepted values, pain, sadness, perception of poverty and their sociological roots in the consciousness of societies. Since these formulaic expressions which are speech acts as well as they involve a reaction, attitude and behavior towards their respondent, realize the act of cursing and are based on a common cultural memory, they reflect how nations perceive the world and how they live, think and behave as well. Therefore, since these speech acts carry codes about different societies' traditions and moral values, historical, mythological and religious realities, they are among the study areas of cultural linguistics which deals with the reflections of cultural aspects and social memory on language. The curses which are treated in cultural linguistics studies are studied with the purpose of analyzing a nation's cultural concepts and values and how these are expressed, as well as being studies comparatively to evaluate the similarities and differences in various cultures. This study, in which death and disease themed curses in Turkish and Russian are compared in terms of cultural linguistics, aims at evaluating through which signs and facts the content of the curses are expressed and setting forth the similarities and differences in cultural concepts and phenomena. In line with this aim, Turkish and Russian curses with themes of death and disease were compiled making use of various sources and the obtained data were classified according to their performative and conceptual content (death, disease, physical anguish and pain, time of death or disease, its characteristics, conditions, etc.). 69 Turkish and 58 Russian curses in each content were evaluated in a comparative manner in terms of cultural concepts and codes. As a result of the comparison of Turkish and Russian curses with the themes of death and disease, it was determined that there are common cultural patterns in the curses in both languages but the curses have certain differences as well in terms of both quantity and the emphasized content. It was seen that different signs and metaphorical expressions are made use of based on beliefs, traditions, social experiences and values even in the expression of similar themes. Turkish curses emphasize more detailed cultural codes in terms of performative functions and in particular curses with the theme of death contain more variety compared to Russian curses due to the cultural meanings attributed to funerals and grief rituals, time of death, the deceased person and what happens after death. The curses with the theme of disease reflect the universal common fears and worries related to health and experiences in the memory of both cultures about epidemics and diseases, however the act of cursing with such themes can also be expressed through different cultural signs. It is noteworthy that curses about death, under which conditions and how death takes place, what happens after death, diseases and physical pain are shaped in the context of in particular Allah or belief in afterlife with the influence of Islam in Turkish curses. It was seen that besides the Christian belief, the reflections of pagan traditions and the fear of mythological characters and animals are also evident in Russian curses.