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Lectures on Russian language and communication by Prof. Per Durst-Andersen, Copenhagen Business School

Event ended

On March 19 and 21, Per Durst-Andersen, professor of language and communication at Copenhagen Business School, will deliver lectures at HSE, on Russian language and communication.

Monday, March 19 – two lectures

‘Communicative supertypes. Why Russian, Chinese and English differ fundamentally from one another’

Start time: 6.10 pm
Address: 21/4 Staraya Basmannaya Ulitsa, Room 506
Working language: Engilsh

Abstract:
By including evidence from various types of communication and discourse it is demonstrated that people having, respectively, Russian, Chinese and English as their mother tongue communicate in three distinct ways because their languages belong to different communicative supertypes: (1) Russian describes situations in external and internal reality – it is third person-oriented; (2) Chinese is oriented towards the speaker’s experiences – it is first person-oriented; and (3) English gives information to the hearer – it is second person-oriented. The reason for this trichotomy is found in the human brain, where it appears that reality exists in three different modalities, as well as in the communicative setting, where we also find three different kinds of reality due to the fact that any communicative situation involves exactly three obligatory participants, i.e. the speaker, the hearer, and reality – the latter in the shape of a situation named by the verb. The three different orientations are so deeply anchored in the bodies of their speakers that the orientation from one’s mother tongue is usually transferred directly to a foreign language with the result that one’s way of communicating becomes ill-formed.

‘Russian as a reality-oriented language with a sharp distinction between external and internal reality’

Start time: 7:40pm
Address: 21/4 Staraya Basmannaya Ulitsa, Room 506
Working language: Engilsh

Abstract:
The talk will focus on various verbal and nominal categories of Russian and on how they are tied together to form a complete whole. As a specific communicative supertype oriented towards situations in primarily external reality, the verb and its lexical-semantic classes (state verbs, activity verbs and action verbs) and grammatical categories (such as aspect) are of primary importance. States are divided into location and possession (external reality) as well as experience and quality (internal reality) and it is demonstrated that (1) this distinction is signaled by existential byt’ and copular byt’, respectively, and (2) verbs can only speak with the voice of external reality, while adjectives can only speak with the voice of internal reality. This is a peculiarity of Russian. The category of aspect divides actions in external reality into processes and events – a crucial distinction normally named by one verb (e.g., arrest) in other languages, but by two verbs in Russian (arestovat’/arestovyvat’), because it is impossible to find the collective concept “action” in external reality, only its manifestations, viz. a process and an event. Moreover, it is demonstrated that various syntactic constructions and case alternations reflect different internally formed situations. Finally, it is shown that the function of indefinite and negative pronouns in Russian is based on the notion of referentiality vs. non-referentiality. Without knowing the orientation of the Russian language people learning it will have difficulty in grasping its various distinctions and they will not know how to use them and their effect on the hearer in real life situations.

Wednesday, March 21

‘Language and culture. Their influence on perception, cognition, action/interaction and communication’

Start time: 6pm
Address: 21/4 Staraya Basmannaya Ulitsa, Room 503
Working language: Engilsh

Abstract:
The language-culture controversy and the question of their mutual influence on one another exemplified by Sapir/Whorf and Chomsky/Pinker are basically illogical. In order to discuss the influence of language and culture it is crucial to find a so-called tertium comparationis, i.e. a third entity to which language and culture can be compared. Perception, cognition, action/interaction and communication together make up this so-called third entity. If we do that, then it is easy to see that both language and culture may influence how as human beings we perceive, cognize, act/interact and communicate in the society we live in, but the question is in which areas and exactly in which way language and culture apply their influence? I shall examine all four areas incorporating experimental evidence as well as other pieces of external and internal evidence and attempt to demonstrate the specific role of culture and the specific role of language in each area. Among other things, societal logic, problem solving, conflict resolution, and pedagogical culture will be touched upon. The conclusion is that since both culture and language influence all four areas, their effect on human beings is twice as big as could be expected. Examples are primarily taken from the American English, Russian and Chinese linguacultures with focus on the former and the latter.

Everyone interested is welcome to attend!

If you need a pass to HSE, please send your name and surname via email at ilazareva@hse.ru.