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American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages

Culture in Grammar
Author(s): Patricia R. Chaput
Source: The Slavic and East European Journal, Vol. 41, No. 3 (Autumn, 1997), pp. 403-414
Published by: American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/310183
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CULTURE IN GRAMMAR
PatriciaR. Chaput, HarvardUniversity

While thereis generalconsensusthattheteachingof culturebelongsin the


foreignlanguage curriculum,thereis littleconsensuson what specifically
shouldbe taught.Not thatthisis surprising-theconceptofcultureis enorand pedagogmouslycomplex,and definitions
varyaccordingto disciplinary
ical perspective(Moorjani and Field, Omaggio Hadley, Patrikis).In practice,elementaryand intermediate
languagetextbooksoftenpresentculture
in termsof the everydayactivitiesa visitoror touristmightencounterhealth,education,family,and pershopping,restaurants,transportation,
an
introduction
to
orpoliticaltopics-essentiallyhow
some
other
social
haps
to understandsituationsand how to behave appropriatelyand to one's
advantage. We mightalso findan introductionto high culture-famous
institutions,
figures,or phenomenain the realmof literatureand the arts.
Althoughundoubtedlyimportant,both of these typesof culturaltopics
produce teachingdilemmaswhichwillbe familiarto experiencedteachers.
The everydaytopicsmay seem simpleand straightforward,
but theyoften
forstudentsto retain,frequently
prove difficult
involvingsocial ritualsthat
are different
fromthepatternsstudentsknowin theirown cultures.Tested
afteran intervalof months,performanceon these topics may be poor;
studentsfrequentlywill have forgottenthe formulasand sequences required by the targetculturesituations,and will have fallenback on the
attemptto translatepatternsfamiliarfromtheirown experience. High
culturetopics pose a slightlydifferent
problem in that studentsusually
know so little about the targetculturethat they may not yet have an
interestin these topics; since they don't yet know why they should be
interested,oftentheyaren't. "Discussion" of these topics may consistof
parrottingback whateverthe textbookor readinghas presented,and the
topics oftendegenerateinto the culturecapsules of years ago-the short
descriptionsof institutionsand issues deemed essentialto students"culturalliteracy,"but difficult
to integrateintotheprogramof study.
It would appear that a major problem in presentingspecificcultural
topics is the lack of experienceand culturalcontextthatwould persuade
SEEJ,Vol.41,No. 3 (1997):p. 403-p.414

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403

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andform,
butherewe havea
inbothcontent
students
oftheirimportance
wheredo we begin?
circular
dilemma.Ifwe needcultureto teachculture,
to thequestionofthe
In thispaperI proposea non-traditional
beginning
introduction
of culture,whichuses languagetopicsto linkand provoke
questionsabout Russiandeep cultureand featuresof the Russianand
WhatmakesRussianculture
distinctive?
WhatdeAmericanworldviews.1
finesitsRussianness,
ofthought
are encountered
whatpatterns
amongits
andwhatrangeofvaluesandattitudes
is sharedorexperienced
citizens,
by
and outlookdiffer
from
them?How does beingRussianin upbringing
betweenthesetwo
andwhydo we perceive"differences"
beingAmerican,
cultures?2
These essentialquestionshavelongbeenimpliedbythecliche
thatforeign
a commontheentreeintoa foreign
culture,
languageprovides
placethatis oftencitedbutseldompursued.Butitis all too clearthatthe
studyof a foreign
bringculturalunderlanguagedoes notautomatically
and releasefromethnocentrism
standing
(Briere),and although
curiosity
about deep culturedifferences
mayunderliemanystudents'decisionto
takea language,itis fartoo commonto findthesequestions
unaddressed,
as iftheyaretoodifficult,
ortooelusive,andcouldbe answered
onlyatthe
mostadvancedlevelsofstudy.Sadly,manystudents
emergefromforeign
everhavingconfronted
languagestudywithout
questionsofdeep culture,
havingacquiredno morethana set of foreignlabelsforunchallenged
native-culture
views.
The approachproposedhereuses grammar
topicsas a vehicleto raise
about
Russian
cultural
attitudes
and
to
values,and inevitably
questions
about
American
It
that
culture.
assumes
the
provokeparallelquestions
studyof a secondcultureshouldbe "a contrastive
process,a dialogue
betweentwowaysof livingand viewingtheworld"(Moorjaniand Field
it challengesstudents
to beginto identify
thepatterns
of
26). Therefore
theirown cultureas theylearnRussianalternatives,
and to see those
alternatives-whether
theyare socialritualsor theroleofhighculturein
a
context.Thisapproachis notintendedto be
cultural
society-in larger
in
or
to
sense
becomea pseudo-course
in anthropology
or
exhaustive,
any
with
lectures
and
discussions.
It
is
raise
intended
to
sociology,
lengthy
and encouragecriticalthoughtwhichwill (it
questions,stimulatecuriosity,

is hoped) continueoutsideof theclassroom.It is also intendedto show


students
whattheywillneedto becomefamiliar
withandto learninorder
to "getinside"ofRussianlanguageandcultureandto beginto see things
froma Russianperspective.
Therefollowbelowfiveexamplesof topicsindicative
of the kindsof
culturalissuesthatcan easilybe raisedin thefirst
yearoflanguagestudy.
issuesbya
Ideally,eachnewmajorgrammar
topicwillbe linkedtocultural
briefdiscussion
inEnglish.Thisdiscussion
contextualizes
(ina sense,"justiand attention
thatmustbe paid to a grammatical
fies")the importance

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inGrammar 405
Culture
thateachtopicis notmerely
fact
topicbyillustrating
justanother
linguistic
or construction
to be memorized,
butthatit can be linkedin interesting
waysto a largerculturalcontext.Studentsare also challengedto think
aboutthesamequestioninreference
toAmerican
culture
and(ifdifferent)
theirownnativeculture.Experienceindicates
thatitis notonlypossible,
butadvantageous,
to takethefirst
smallstepstowardthesetopicsat the
of
Russian
whenstudents
havejustcometo
verybeginning
languagestudy,
a course,fullofcuriosity
aboutwhatmakesRussianculture
Russian.Byso
we
to
a
foundation
for
a
of thoughtful
career
doing begin lay
language
and
intellectual
satisfaction.3
inquiry
1) The natureof vocabularyand thestructure
of a lexicon. An essential

Russiantopic,butrather
a universal
topicthatis actuallynota specifically
ofthelexicon.Students
oftenapproach
one, has to do withthestructure
inregardto common
languageas a seriesoflexicalequivalents,
especially
nouns.But researchintowordmeaningshowshowvocabulary
itemsare
notexactlyequivalent(Hirsch33-60). It appearsthatspeakersof a lanin theformofprototypes
or
guagein a givenculturemaystoremeanings
mentalmodelsor information
networks
basedon indischemata,abstract
vidualand social experience,
directexperiencecomdevelopedthrough
binedwithcommunication
withothermembers
oftheculture.Putsimply,
definitions
accumulated
and feedback,
developthrough
exposure,testing
ina sharedsenseofwhatistypical
ofobjects(andactions)ortheir
resulting
class.As Hirschsummarizes
inthenow-familiar
exampleofbird,theprotowhereas
creature,"
typeforAmericans
appearsto be "a vaguelyrobinlike
"ifRosch[theinvestigator]
hadtestedhersubjectsinAustralia,
herresults
wouldprobably
havebeendifferent,
andshewouldhavefoundthetypical
birdschemato be unlikea robininmanyrespects"
(51).
forourstudents,
theprocessof expoPerhapsevenmoreinterestingly
and
feedback
which
come
to
an understanding
of
sure,testing
by
speakers
and
the
of
for
in
lexical
items
results
meaning
range meaningpossible
individual
that
can
be
in
likened
to
function
coninterpretations
implicit
tractsina legalsystem.
Likelaws,theyarebasedonprecedent,
andsubject
to negotiation
or verification
whenthereis misunderstanding.
As in law,
can
to
with
new
circumstances
interpretation varyaccording circumstances,
Such a perspective
on the
frequently
givingriseto newinterpretations.
lexiconis betterable to renderits inherent
and
the
of
role
dynamism,
in
over
time.
It
dramatizes
to
stuspeakers'experience supporting
change
dentstheinsufficiency
ofEnglishlexicalequivalents,
whenwhatis needed
is a senseofthecollective
of
Russian
experience
speakers.
Forcommonobjectsthismeansseeingexamplesoftheobjects,learning
howtheyare usedand theassociations
theycarry-anaspectofmeaning
thatshouldnotbe overlooked.
Forexample,Kramsch
contrasts
theassocia-

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SlavicandEastEuropeanJournal

tionsofthewordgameinEnglishandjeu inFrench,inwhichEnglishgame
is associatedwiththe wordssports,competition,
win,lose, team,rules,
whereasin the Frenchculturalimagination
jeu is associatedwith"such
wordsas loisir[leisure],s'amuser[to have fun],enfants
pas
[children],
serieux[notserious],contraire
de travail[oppositeofwork].Gamemight
be thedictionary
ofjeu, butitiscertainly
notitscultural
equivalent
equivalent"(106-7). For abstract
is evenmorecomconceptslearning
meanings
abouta nation'shistory
andtraditions,
plexandrequireslearning
including
on
this
social
and
cultural
andtradition.
existing
perspectives
history
A first
suchexperience
can be suppliedthrough
steptowardproviding
withconcrete
Not
is
it
forstudents
useful
to see
acquaintance
objects. only
(and touch)examplesofcommonobjects,butthelessonslearnedthrough
theirsamenessand differences
also teachan important
lesson.For examof how abstractnotionssuchas the Russian
ple, a tangibleillustration
verbs,ormotionverbs(see below),differently
studying/learning
apportion
and represent
theirrespective
fieldscan be foundin
conceptual/semantic
the situationwithnotebooks.Here, of course,notebookwillbe either
on whether
thenotebookis boundon
mempa6bor 6AOKHcom,
depending
the leftor at the top; moreover,3-ringbinderswere unfamiliar
until
recently-and thereforehad no Russian name (were theynancu because

thepageswereremovable,
ormempa6ubecausetheyopenedinthesame
thelackofa simpleequivalent
fornotebookis to be
way?).To understand
betterpreparedto understand
thegenerallackofexactequivalents
across
thecomplexities
inabstract
involved
notionsthat
languages,andespecially
are boundto historical
experience.
In elementary
we faceatleastthreeimportant
tasks
language,therefore,
inconnection
withthistopic:1) toteachstudents
whata lexiconis,andthat
wordscannotbe defined
fromourAmerican(or
foreign
bynotionsarising
othercultural)experience;
to
concreteob2) presentto students
through
video4
and
other
means
of
and
jects,pictures,
examples objects notionsin
thetargetculture,
so thatstudents
themselves
canbeginto accumulate
the
to
the
of
students
that
necessary
experience;3) begin process persuading
thereis a greatdeal ofknowledge
requiredto speaka language,andthere
is
no
such
as
really
thing "justlanguage."
introduction
2) Gender.Grammatical
genderrequires
veryearlyinRussian
courses,andthereis no doubtthatgenderinlanguagehasposedproblems
forbothRussianandAmerican
societies.In thelastdecadeinAmericawe
have seen the renaming
in gender-neutral
languageof manymasculinenamedprofessions:
fireman
tofirefighter,
mailpolicemantopoliceofficer,
manto mailcarrier,
chairman
to chairperson
orchair,etc.Gradually
more
writers
are usinggender-inclusive
to
languageand we tryto be sensitive
traditional
At leastwe havea greatlinguistic
advangenderassociations.

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CultureinGrammar 407

onlyin somenouns
tagein English,in thatgenderis expressedexplicitly
in
form
the
andpronouns,
notinvirtually
language.Willthis
everysingular
to reinstitute
feminine
trendcontinue?Or shouldwe considerreverting
inforfor
useful
as
a
vehicle
suffixes
as
providing
(such -ess,e.g. priestess)
mation as to the sex of the person in question. Safireasks, ". .. does it

or Congresswoman?
reallyhurtto know?What'swrongwithchairwoman
has
been made in this
Let's go further:
now thatthe anti-sexist
point
the
next
to have more
it
be
better
for
wouldn't
generation
generation,
information
ratherthanless?"(Safire10)
intoan answerto Safire.In the
The Russianexperienceoffers
insight
Russian
faceda genderissuein the
of
this
decades
century
society
early
of
and
establishment
ofa neworder.At
transformation
society
attempted
the"liberation"
of
thattimelanguagewasputto theserviceofrecognizing
inthebuilding
ofthenewsociety
womenandtheirinclusion
bythecreation
thathad existedin
of feminine
formsforprofessions.
Manyprofessions
and
so thatmasculine
variantacquireda feminine
suffix,
onlya masculine
feminine
forms
existedside-by-side
cblpoeapKca)(Rothstein
(e.g. cbtpoeap,
forwomeninthe
460;see also ComrieandStone159-167).Unfortunately
newsociety,
thefeminine
forms
neverachievedgenuinely
equalstatus,and
infacttheirintroduction
canbe saidtohavebackfired,
sincemanyofthese
andeventually
becamemarked
forms
meaning
beganto acquirepejorative
as second-class.Manyofficial
formsneveracquiredfemaleparallelsso
that,as Rothstein
observes,"a femaleHerooftheSovietUnioncouldonly
be called Fepou Co6emcKozoCoio3a, the masculineform;callingher
repouun CoeemctKoo Coioaa would have to be a joke" (461).5 Today,not

forms,
onlyhave thenewcreationsbeen rejected,butmoreestablished
such as nucametbHuqa and noamecca have also declinedin frequencyand

status,so thatthe Russiansolutionseemsto have been to choosethe


masculine
formas a meansofreducing
statusdifferences.6
Statusis integralto thisquestionin bothRussianand Americansocifurther
we can consider
eties,and ifwe wantto carrythislineofinquiry
in
which
these
societies
status
and
in
which
theirlanways
ways
assign
to
of
statusin
it.
We
can
the
relative
social
guagesexpress
significance
point
Russianand Americancontexts,
whereit has historically
dramatiplayed
inAmericawasmarked
roles.Whereasearlycolonialsociety
callydifferent
ofEuropeancategories
ofstatusanda faiththat"inAmerica
bya rejection
man countedformore,took less accountof his superiors-indeedfreachievedwhatever
distinction
hisownabilquentlydeniedtheirexistence,
ityandthebountyofthelandallowedhim,lookedanymanintheeyeand
knewhimas an equal beforethe law and beforeGod" (Rudolph34),
Russiansocietyofthisperiodandbeyondpreserved
a strong
senseofsocial
andprestige.
Classandrank(forthosewhoserved)wereevident
hierarchy
on sight(or knownto relevant
ranksrequiredeven
parties)and different

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Slavicand EastEuropeanJournal

different
formsof address.Althoughsocialmobility
increasedin
greatly
the"classlesssociety"ofSovietCommunism,
theprimary
rewardforsuccesswasnota highsalary,
as intheWest,buthigher
statusandtheaccompasocial
As
Russian
once
a
society
nying
perquisites.
againgoes through
of
economic
and
transition
it
will
be
to
see
social
whether
period
interesting
therelationship
rewards
forsuccessshifts,
as
betweenstatusand financial
thecountry
with
struggles change.
Anotherelementary
3) Possessives.
my,your,our,
topicis thepossessives:
ofwhatispossessable
inour
his,her,andso on.Thistopicraisesthequestion
twocultures.In Englishwe saytakemyhand,eatyourvegetables,
and trymy

dentist.
The Dutchlinguist
Honselaarlookedat onepartofthequestionof
thelinguistic
distribution
ofpossessives
inRussianbycomparing
theexpressionofpossessionincertainenvironments
inRussianandhisnativeDutch.
His investigation,
whichbeganwiththeassumption
thatRussiandiffered
fromDutchin havingfewerpossessives
revealedthatthetwo
expressed,
butindifferent
situalanguagesexpresspossessionwithsimilar
frequency,
tions.He documented
thatRussiandoesnotusepossessives
fortheclassof
and otherobjectsthatare viewedas
inalienables-bodyparts,clothing,
ofthepossessor.
extensions
Inthesecases"possession,"
whichisnotactually
atall,butsomekindofattachment
orassociation,
isimplied,
and
possession
Dutch(similarly
inordertoexpressdefiEnglish)is oftenusingpossessives
niteness.Russianindicatesdefiniteness
by othermeans,butin turnexpressespossessionwhereEnglishandDutchwouldnot.
Russianattitudes
towardpossessionmayalso be indirectly
reflected
in
lexical use. During researchon the usage of the verbsnoJab3o6ambcRand

in Moscow,speakerssuggested
thatone ofthedifferences
ucnoJb30soamb
inusageofthetwoverbswastheviewoftheobjectas individually
"belonging"to theuser,or theuserseeingtheobjectas his(or her)ownto use
(Chaput103).
The culturaldimensionto thesequestionsis to ask further,
not only
but
also
how
do
two
these
view
societies
linguistically,
culturally,
possession
and determine
whatis legitimately
forexample,
possessable?Historically,
thetradition
ofproperty
is verydifferent;
whereasin America
ownership
thetradition
ofprivateproperty
is unquestioned,
in Russiaon morethan
one occasionreformist
movements
havelookedto themythologized
Russianpeasantcommuneas an idealforRussiansocietyto follow(see, for
example,Boym86-88). In theSovietperiodcollective
ownership
through
the statewas a fundamental
principleof Communist
society,but in an
ironicreversal,theubiquity
and abstractness
ofstateownership
no doubt

playeda role in thedevelopmentof an extensiveeconomyna.eeeso,in which


state propertyoftenfoundits way into privateuse.7 Instead of provoking

was widelytoleratedand supportedas an


shock,the counter-economy

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Culturein Grammar 409

essentialantidoteto thechronic
andinefficiencies
ofSovietsocishortages
a built-in,
feature
of
ety,"an integral
partoftheSovietsystem,
permanent
Soviet society.. . . Ordinarypeople take it for grantedas an essential

lubricant
fortherigidities
oftheplannedeconomy"(Smith113).
Whatlinkis therebetweenthepatterns
ofhowwe viewpossession,
and
theclearlydiffering
viewsoftherights
oftheindividual
vs.thecollective
in
the two societies?Many Russiancitizensdo not see post-perestroika
to a fewindividuals
at a costof
changesin positiveterms,and see benefit
loss to societyas a whole.For manytheshiftto materialistic
valuesis an
undesirable
shift
towardtheemptiness
andsuperficiality
ofWestern
values,
from
Russian
ideals.
If
howwillthese
continues,
away
higher
privatization
viewsbe reconciled?
As thegap betweenrichand poorwidens,willRussiansocietycontinueto toleratethenewpatterns
ofownership;
orwillwe
see yetanothermoveto return
to traditional
"communal"
values?
4) Aspect.Aspectis one of themostinteresting
topicsforcross-cultural
howsocietiessegment
becauseitconcerns
andviewtimeand
speculation,
relations.
Notthataspectisa purely
butas
temporal
temporal
phenomenon,
a packagingsystemforverbalnotionsthatis necessarily
relatedto their
existencein timeaspectgivesus a meansof assigning
different
valuesto
eventsandexperiences
as theyprogress.
we findthat
Amongourstudents
if
speakersofEnglishtendtooverusetheperfective
aspect,andfrequently,
notconstantly,
see eventsintermsoftheaccomplishment
ofsomeproject.
To a simplequestion,whatwillyoudo thisweekend,
students
oftenwantto
andevenwhentheyunderexpressan answerintermsofaccomplishment,
standthatwasn'tthequestion,theywanttheright
toexpresstheanswerin
thoseterms.ButifwelookatAmerican
wesee manylinksbetween
society
ourculture
andthese"perfective"
values.Acrosstheboardweframe
events
interms
ofaccomplishment
andachievement
andwecompartmentalize
time
intounitsto fitintoagendasand to reassignas tasksto be accomplished.
"As a NorthAmerican,
theword'time'makesmenervous.
Gallowaywrites,
To meitis concrete,
real,touchable,
linear,madeup ofuniform
segments:
seconds,minutes,hours.At the symboliclevel,it represents
pressure,
action.I am
stress,deadlines,schedules,lists,agenda,responsibility,
hookedintothe ethicof lateness,of productivity,
of doing"(quotedin
In
America
we
Omaggio-Hadley
370).
eagerlysegmenthumanlifeinto
middleage,oldagemultiple
stages-childhood,
youth,
youngadulthood,
eachstagewithitsinception
anditsclosure,andateachstageweworry
about
whatwe haveaccomplished
orhowweplantospendthisstage.8In popular
wegivespecialattention
tobeginnings
andconclusions,
wemake
psychology
themas wholes,and assign
processesintoprojectsso thatwe can identify
them"closure,"whichpermits
"evaluation."9
Inkeles,etal., ina comparativearticleon RussianandAmerican
traitsnote"thegreatempersonality

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Slavicand EastEuropeanJournal

foundintheAmerican
records... [and]absentfrom
phasisonachievement
ofneedfor
theRussianones."TheyalsonotetheAmericans'
"greatstrength
also
Stewart
39-42).
approval"(7;
indifferent
To tryto illustrate
eventcanbe constructed
thewaya similar
a
American
Protestant
church
I
have
the
of
used
ways
comparison typical
oftheAmerican
servicewitha RussianOrthodoxservice-theperception
serviceas an event,atwhichworshipers
areexpectedto arriveon timeand
whichstartsat a specifictime,whereworshipers
enter,sit,and usually
itsdistinct
remainintheirseats,andwheretheyfollowtheservicethrough
and
leaves.
to
its
which
distinct
at
time
everyone
getsup
stagesup
ending,
in
contrast
Orthodox
services
are
less
Russian
By
many
"unitary," that
and can move
need
not
arrive
on
remain
time,
they
standing
worshipers
aboutthechurch,and theservicesare notenclosedin neatlytimedslots.
The Protestant
oftimeinoureventto thesegmentation
servicesconform
oriented
whiletheRussianOrthodox
services
seemtoflowcontinusociety,
inprogress
intime.
ously,liketheworshipers,
events
Understanding
aspectrequiresseeingactionsnotonlyas unitary
andaccomplishments,
ofboundaries
andwithout
butalsowithout
theframe
theimplicit
ofperfective
forward
orientation
sequences.In a senseitmeans
termsas well.In one Russianclassan
valuingtimeand eventsin different
student,who had just understood
undergraduate
partof theperfectiveexclaimed:"Thisisn'tlanguage,thisis
imperfective
dichotomy,
suddenly
to aspect
He wasunawarethatone ofthegreatcontributions
philosophy!"
research
Zeno Vendler,
inan articleintended
wasmadebythephilosopher,
forphilosophers,
on English"VerbsandTimes."
PartoftheAmericanorientation
to timeis its"future"
the
orientation,
visitor
totheUnitedStatesdescribed
hisexperibelief,as a youngPakistani
was betterthanthepresent.I metpeoplewhohad
ence,that"thefuture
orhadlosttheirjobs,butallofthemcarriedwith
undergone
majorsurgery
themthe notionthatthingswould improve .... Hope does springeternal

in the Americanbreast"(Faridi11). Dundesoffersconfirmation


of the
future-orientation
of Americansocietyin aspectsofcultureranging
from
and
that
dismiss
the
ain't
seen
nothin
proverbs sayings
past("you
yet")to
Ford
a
in
to
the
advertising
slogans("there's
yourfuture")
penchantfor
now
and
later"
He
that
"For
states
Americans,
"buying
(73-77).
paying
is subjecttochange.Americans
thusacceptthepastfatalistonlythefuture
of Russian
ically!)"(75). We can onlyspeculateaboutthe orientation
but
even
the
casual
observer
will
note
the
of
absence
a strong
society,
In fact,to carryspeculation
future-bias.
the
further,
perhaps slogansofthe
Sovietperiod,exhorting
citizensto moveforward
to a radiant
were
future
an effort
to articulatea futureorientation
thatwas not manifest
in the
ethnicRussianworldview,
butwhichwasseenas essentialto achieverapid
economicprogress.Such exhortations
wouldsoundout of place in the

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CultureinGrammar 411

Americancontext,where"the futureis now."10Perhaps,too, the segeconomic"plans"was an


mentation
ofprogress
bymeansoftheinfamous
effort
to segment
theRussian"flow"oftimeintounitsthatcouldbe correfora culturethatdid notnaturally
latedwithaccomplishment,
comparttimeinsuchterms.
mentalize
ofmotionverbsthatis
5) VerbsofMotion.Russian,ofcourse,hasa system
is the
viewedas complexbyspeakersofEnglish.One ofthemainproblems
discrimination
ofone-waymotionfromotherkinds.Students
havetrouble
withtheconceptualframework,
in identifying
a typeofmotionthatdoes
nothaveto be identified
inEnglish;no doubt,as withotherissues,one of
the problemsis in valuingdistinctions
thatEnglishdoes not express.
(Hence theunspokenstudentquestion,"ifwe don'tneedthem,are they
reallyessential?")
The cultural
linkpresented
hererelieson Moyle'sarticleon ethnicRussianattitudes
towardmovement
and
through
space,or boundary-crossing
territorial
inAmerican
passage.Moylenotestheverypositiveassociations
culturethatattachto travel,movement
andopenspace-fromourheroes
whoaremobiletravelers,
frontiersmen
andadventurers
toourimageofthe
Homeon theRangetoourjet-setters
moandtheupwardly
boundary-less
bile. By contrast,
ethnicRussianculturehas oftenassignedto boundarycrossers
a negative
roleandthrough
Russianhistory
therehavebeenrituals
to protectagainststrangers
and travelers
whooncewerefearedto be the
thevillage,andingeneraltripsacrossboundunquietdead.Tripsawayfrom
withtravelers
as potentially
threatenaries,wereoftenviewedas negative,
To non-Russians
itmayseem
ingfigures,
perhapseventhedevilindisguise.
curiousthatnotonlythedeadwerelamented,
butalsosoldiers
goingintothe
and
brides
about
to
be
married.
Of
the
term
of
servicefor
course,
army
soldierswas fora timeso longthattheymight
wellnotreturn,
andbrides
wereleavingtojointheirhusband'sfamily,
butMoylepointsoutthatthere
are otherassociations
ofsoldiersandbrideswithdeathandthedevil.Soldier'stalesinRussianrarely
ofthewestern
tradition,
depictthejollytraveler
butmoreoftenportray
whoaretricked
soldiers
the
by devilandneverreach
home.Bridesmaybe leavinghome,buttheirentry
intomarriage
wasaccomwhich
them
the
rituals,
paniedbyfunerary
gave
uniquely rightto lament
or at death,implying
thattheywerequalified
others,eitherat marriage
by
virtueofalreadyhavingmadethattransition
themselves.
Thereis otherevidenceofnegativeassociations
withterritorial
passage.
On theone daya yearin tsaristtimeswhena serfcouldleave an abusive
landownerand move to anotherproperty,IOpbees eHb, fewserfsmoved,

sinceitwas apparently
moreintimidating
to leavethanto remainin cruel
conditions.
And perhapsmostrevealing
to us is thefactthatexilehas remaineda principle
formofpunishment
forcenturies,
intothepresentday.

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412

Slavic and East European Journal

All of these boundary-crossing


tripsare, of course, one-way,and the
identification
of evidence markingone-waytripsas special makes the existence of a whole set of verbsforone-waymotionmuchless surprising.In
fact,one mightconcludethatthe absence of a special verbforthiskindof
motion,so essentialto distinguishfromotherkindsof motion,mightbe
cause forsurprise.
The pointof these examplesis not to say thatwe can or should embark
on lengthyexaminationsof thesetopicsin thelanguageclassroom,butit is
to see the languageclass as a springboardto culturaltopics.By introducing
culturaltopics alongside related grammarand language topics we have
made the directconnectionbetweenlanguageand culture,and the kindof
connectionthatmaybe absentbetweenlanguageand the situationaltopics
of hotels, restaurants,and shopping,or language and the high culture
topics of figuresand institutions.
By lookingfirstin the directionof deep
culture,we suggestto studentswhere, and at what kinds of thingsthey
thatcontributeto
mightlook to begin to discoverthe culturaldifferences
the Russian or Americanworldviews,thatunderliethe behaviortheywill
encounterand the culturalinstitutions
thatare valued-not to stereotype,
not to see all Russians as likeminded,but to see attitudesand eventsthat
have contributedto the Russian culturalexperience.
By takingthe timeto make culturalconnectionswithgrammaticaltopics
we enjoy a rich opportunityto demonstratelinksbetween language and
culturethatour studentsmay not see withoutour help. This is a tangible
way to show the centralityof language to culturalexperienceand to provoke criticalthoughtabout Russian and Americanculture."The point is
not foreveryoneto become a philosopher,a linguist,and an anthropologist;thepointis to enrichand to enhancethefieldoflanguageteachingand
learningby askingquestionssuggestedby otherdisciplines"(Patrikis13). I
am convincedthatstimulating
criticalthinkingin a languagecourse is one
of the mostimportantthingsthatwe can do forour students.
NOTES
1 Worldview:
"thecomprehensive
setofassumptions,
orpostulates
thata group
premises,
holdsaboutthemselves,
theirenvironment,
space,timeandtheworldandthewaythatit
is ordered.. . How a peopleperceiveand understand
theworldwillin largemeasure
determinetheir behavior in it...

A world view...

is only partlybased in formal

ofphilosophical
reflection.
It mostly
consists
ofimplicit
conexplicitsystems
concepts,
arenotawarethattheyholdandwhichtheycouldnotexplicceptsthatgroupmembers
weretheyaskedtodo so" (Moyle87). Foran introduction
tocategories
in
itlyarticulate
whichworldview
canbe discussed,
see theworkofFlorenceKluckhohn.
Foran applicationofKluckhohn's
theoretical
toAmerican
see Stewart.
culture,
concepts
2 Care shouldbe takento avoidthe impression
of homogeneity
in eitherRussianor
Americanculture.Rather,"The numberofpossiblesolutions
to ... universal
human

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Culturein Grammar

5
6

413

tothem,
In eachsociety
islimited.
arefoundthefullrangeofpossiblesolutions
problems
withalternative
solutions
as cultural
buta dominant
solutionis usuallypresent
existing
variations"
Kluckhohn
11,summarizing
1963).
(Stewart
It is likelythatthetopicsproposedbelowwillcalltomindtheworkofSapirandWhorf,
oflanguage
onperceptions
ofreality.
Evento
andespecially
thequestionoftheinfluence
wouldgo farbeyondwhatis possiblehereandbeyond
beginto discussthesehypotheses
and to raiseinteresting
questions,not to assertor
myintent-tomakeconnections
defendthekindsofeffects
proposedintheirwork.
A fascinating,
videoformoreadvancedstudents
is Griinberg
and
ifat timesunsettling
misunderstanding
Paperno's"MacUK u C6emaHaa," whichnotonlymakescross-cultural
a centraltheme,butalsooffers
mother's
emotional
gems,suchas Svetlana's
unexpected
ofattachment
topo)uHa Poccua.
expression
womenfortheir
Ofcourse,we haveMamb-zepounJ,
an awardwhichquaintly
recognizes
achievement.
child-bearing
usedas nouns,e.g.
nameswereadjectives
ComrieandStonenotethatwhenprofessional
l OMOM,
a tendency
"evenherethereis,withhigher
ynpaeas.aou4uu
prestige
professions,
ina university
touseonlythemasculine
form.
Thustheheadofa department
is,irrespectiveof sex, 3asebyiyou4uKaqbeWpou"
(162-3).

7 Forexample,according
onJanuary
to Smith,"Izvestiadisclosed
1, 1975,thatmorethan
motorists
weredriving
onstate-owned
one-third
ofSovietprivate
gasolinein1972-1973."
He quotesa Sovietchemist
whohadobtainedsomeconcrete
fora garagefloornaAeso,
whoexplainedthat"Nobodynoticed.Nobodycared.Theconcrete
reallydoesn'tbelong
to anyoneanyway
(108-9)."
8 In Russianculture
childhood
butotherlinesareblurred;
"middle
enjoysa specialstatus,
notcelebrated
as a newbeginning,
as in"Life
age"as a stageisbarelynotedandcertainly
beginsat forty."
9 A self-help
thatwhenyoucleanyourclosetsoryour
expertI onceheardrecommended
decideyouarefinished,
butcallyourspouseorfamily
around
basement,
youdon'tsimply
to admireyouraccomplishment
and congratulate
you,and by thisact of praiseand
closure.
(thatis,byevaluation),
congratulation
youestablish
10 This futureorientation
is longstanding,
it maynothave been sharedby all
although
ofsociety.
ofAmerican
thehistory
segments
Rudolph,in tracing
collegesanduniversievidenceof"theAmerican
faithintomorrow,
intheunquestionable
ties,findsrecurring
to achievea betterworld,"herein reference
to theearly19th
capacityof Americans
century
(48-49).

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