Phytonymic Phraseology and Linguocultural Features of Paremiological Units

South Asian Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities
Year: 2021 (August), Volume: (2), Issue. (4)
First page: (81) Last page: (90)
Online ISSN: 2582-7065
doi: 10.48165/sajssh.2021.2405

Phytonymic Phraseology and Linguocultural Features of Paremiological Units

Mirzayeva Aysu
Baku State University, Z. Khalilov, 23, Baku, Azerbaijan

Corresponding Author: Mirzayeva Aysu, Email: 

Online Published:
8th Aug 2021

5th May 2021

6th July 2021

How to cite the Article

Aysu, M. (2021). Phytonymic Phraseology and Linguocultural Features of Paremiological Units. South Asian Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, 2(4), 81–90. Cite
Aysu, Mirzayeva. “Phytonymic Phraseology and Linguocultural Features of Paremiological Units.” South Asian Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, vol. 2, no. 4, 2021, pp. 81–90, Cite
Aysu M. Phytonymic Phraseology and Linguocultural Features of Paremiological Units. SAJSSH. 2021;2(4):81‑90. DOI: 10.48165/sajssh.2021.2405 Cite
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The article comparatively examines phytonomic phraseology, forming a branch of onomastic phraseology of English and Azerbaijani languages. Internal classification of onomastic phraseology is provided for this purpose and the criteria for designation of phytonymic phraseology are determined. Such a system of markers embraces lexical units that are more or less connected with the plant world, as well as words denoting the species of plants. Phytonymic phraseologies were selected from relevant lexicographic sources and grouped on the basis of materials of Azerbaijani and English languages. The research shows that phytonymic phraseology forms an independent group in the onomastic phraseology of each language. The characteristics of the development of phytonomic phraseology by species and type names were studied and high frequency of some species’ names in phytonomic phraseology was found out. The article also addresses the issues over adequacy and equivalence of phytonomic phraseology of diferent-system languages. The study in this area indicates considerable role of phytonomic phraseology in the verbalization of national-cultural indicators. Direct connection of ethnocultural marker and the code with the onym used in the composition were clarified in phytonomic phraseology.      


phytonym, phytonymic phraseology, species, linguocultural, paremiological, ethnocultural code.


The phraseological system of each language is of special interest ranging from the aspect of the units included, features of their origin, their national-cultural identity, structural and semantic features of phraseologies, as well as differences in their constituent components, the formation of general semantics and many others and is always in the spotlight of linguists. The existence of numerous research work on phraseology and nevertheless the study of this field from new aspects shows clearly that, linguistic problems, particularly linguocultural ones with regard to stable compounds were not yet resolved. The anthropocentric inclination of modern linguistics, as well as interest in perfect study of phraseology, the need for determination of the principles of finding adequate equivalents of phraseological units in literary translation and teaching make urgent the study of phraseology from a different perspective. 

Onomastic phraseology includes linguistic units, closely related to the history, traditions, way of thinking and national character of people. There is a necessity to reveal the reasons for the development of anthroponym, toponym, mythonym, theonym, phytonym, zoonym and other onomastic units, quantitative indicators, as well as to display etymology, historical and cultural features, to clarify the role of a specific name in the formation of general semantics of the phraseological unit and to conduct research in this direction. The article aims to focus on comparative study of phraseological and paremiological units, which are phytonyms in the languages of different systems.

English, Russian and Azerbaijani phraseological phrases with phytonym structure were taken and analyzed as the research material. The source of the material is proper dictionaries for the mentioned languages. Phytonims and lexical units with the meaning of plant in their semantics play the role of marker for the selection of the required units.

Onomastic phraseology based on the materials of a number of languages was the subject of research. The study of onomastic, including phytonymic phraseological and paremiological compounds from the linguocultural aspect has been widely covered recently (Borisova, 2014; Vasilenko, 2008; Konovalova, 2001; Boyarkina &  Kashtanova, 2016). There also exists studies on the comparative study of certain types of phraseology of English and Azerbaijani languages (See: (Konovalova, 2001; Boyarkina & Kashtanova, 2016). However, the onomastic phraseology of the Azerbaijani language was involved in the study, neither in general plan nor on the basis of respective onomastic units, nor in comparison with English and other languages. Insufficient attention was paid to national-cultural specificity and linguocultural value of onomastic phraseology. 

This aspect stipulates scientific novelty of the article, whereas the other aspect is attempting to study comparatively phytonym-based stable combinations of the Azerbaijani, English and Russian languages in a linguocultural plan for the first time. The research work considers the process of semantic evolution of phytonymic phraseology and the designation of main circle of phytonims, which are components of phraseological units. The subject of research here are the issues over the role of borrowing units, as well as international phraseology, the reasons for their borrowing and their distribution by type of onym.

The main purpose of choosing this study topic is to expand further the theoretical practical base of research in this direction and to assist in the collection of material on onomastic phraseology.

Working hypotheses of the study:

1. Phraseology with an onomastic component comprises an individual layer in the general phraseological system of the language.

2. Onyms of all types have the ability to perform the function of an integral component of the phraseological unit.

3. The number of phytonymic and zoonymic phraseologies in onomastic phraseology of each language is large and the productivity of the onym expressing the concept of species is quite high in such units. 

Scientific-theoretical work on onomastic phraseology comprises the methodological basis of the research.


The research used methods of complete selection of material from a lexicographic source, its functional-semantic analysis, comparison-collation and description, as well as content analysis methods. The method of content analysis was applied for the purpose of grouping and studying of phraseological units through which the same and similar phytonymic markers are processed.

1. Classification of onomastic phraseology by type of onym

Various criteria can be taken as a basis for the classification of phraseological units and it is noticeable in the classifications given so far. It includes the relationship between the components, sorting of the components, the structural order, grammatical characteristics, the semantics of the components, the layer possession of the component in the lexical fund of the language, etc. There are different types of classification of phraseological units depending on the criterion in linguistics. For example, the “petrified” grammatical relationships of the components, the structure, the origin, the nature of the grammatical relationships between the components, the relevance of the component to the parts of speech, the nature of the object expressed by the component and others taken as a criterion for classification. Researchers try to classify phraseological system in two directions: 1) semantic; 2) traditional. The names of these areas of classification have unrelated features. The criterion becomes known from the name upon the semantic classification, i.e. the classification is based on semantics. However, the criterion in the traditional classification is unknown. Mirzaliyeva (2009) dealt with six subdivisions of phraseological units based on diverse principles- capacity (scope), principle of formation, semantic structure, principle of semantic junction, lexical structure, expressive and stylistic characteristics (Mirzaliyeva, 2009).

The units of the onomastic system, which have a special position in general lexical system of the language form separate subsystems and microsystems according to different areas. A. Gurbanov said: “There is no clear guiding concept of onomastic structure in general linguistics on the whole and onomastic units are not specifically classified in Turkology” and suggested the division of onomastic units into 7 independent groups. These were: 1) anthroponyms; 2) ethnonyms; 3) toponyms; 4) hydronyms; 5) zoonyms; 6) cosmonims; 7) ctematonyms (Gurbanov,  2004, p.7-8). This division of the author did not include phytonyms. Despite this, they also form a special onomastic layer.  

Phraseologisms are also grouped into ethnonymic phraseology, hydronomic phraseology, phytonymic phraseology, zoonomic phraseology, cosmonymic phraseology and ktematonomic phraseology depending on the type of onomastic unit in the structure.

Although expressions with phytonim components, including phraseology are not special research subject in Azerbaijani linguistics, the issue was also touched upon in certain studies. Speaking of the phraseological units related to plant names in Turkic languages, G.Mahmudova underscored the existence of the phraseologies formed in Turkic languages with the participation of these words, and their calling phytophraseologisms. Moreover, they are a minority in comparison with somatic phraseological units and zoophraseologisms. The author noted the efficiency of phrasemes containing such names in connection with the exceptional role of livestock, especially domestic animals like camels, horses and sheep in the life of Kipchak-speaking peoples (Mahmudova, 2009).

One paragraph of N. Seyidaliyev’s monograph entitled “Phraseology of the language of Azerbaijani epos and tales” is dedicated to “phraseological combinations formed by onomastic names”. The author distinguishes the following groups of onomastic phraseology: 1) those formed in connection with the names of historical figures; 2) created on the basis of geographical names, 3) created in connection with religion (Seyidaliyev, 2006). As is known, N. Seyidaliyev did not consider the onomastic layer containing phytonims. However, as we will see later this type of phraseologisms is quite commonly encountered in our language.

2. Designation markers of phytonomical phraseology 

It is necessary to confirm the existence of a name denoting a phytonym in the combination in order to determine whether a phraseology and a paremiological unit contain a phytonym. It requires defining the condition of a lexical unit to be a phytonym. A number of researchers include such concepts as “forest”, “garden”, “planting”, “field” into phytonims (See: (Guliev, 2004)). Such lexical units do not meet the definition term of phytonym, i.e. the demand of specific name of the plant, while attracting attention as concepts closely related to phytonymy. Their semantics allows us to determine the connection of this or other context with phytonymics. For example, “As long as the pot boils, friendship lasts”, Аs is the gardener, so is the garden, etc. 

It should be noted that plants are divided into species and plant species are divided into types. For example, tree-species, oak, hornbeam, iron tree-type, flower-species, violets, marigold, poppy-types belong to this species. Species names should also be included in phytonym in this regard. Furthermore, there is a similarity between the name of the plant and the name of its yield. For example, apple tree – apple, walnut tree – walnut, rose – plant, rose – the name of the flower of the same plant, violet – plant, violet – the flower of the same plant and so on. This feature displays some controversial points in the selection of some phytonym phraseologisms. For example: A hard nut to crack. Dogs that put up many hares kill none. Old enemies do not become friends. There is small choice in rotten apples. Be shy as a violet. Also not the name of the plant, but its yield name are used in other phraseologisms of this type. We consider it expedient to include such phraseological units in phytonymic phraseology.

3.Phytonymic phraseology formed with species and type name

Onomastic units containing the name of a type or species can be distinguished on the basis of species-type contrasting. There are plenty of onomastic phraseologisms in English, as well as in Azerbaijani language containing plant names. It is observed that the unit denoting sometimes species and the type out of the phytonyms is embraced into the onomastic phraseological unit. This motive manifests itself more in the word of “tree”. For example: Lower your head modestly while passing, and you will harvest bananas. Strike while the iron is hot. A great ship asks deep waters. No sweat, no sweet. As a tree falls, so shall it lie. Shake the tree when the fruit is ripe. The tree is known by its fruit, etc.

Some species names are most commonly seen in phytonymic phraseology. Frequent usage of phraseological units containing species names like  flower” and “tree” in dictionaries is noteworthy. For instance, “Take the bitter with the sweet”, “Among the blind the one-eyed man is king”, “Make hay while the sun shines, “April showers bring May flowers, etc. It should also be noted that the formation of the units of the same or similar meaning is observed with the replacement of species by type in such paremiological units: “After the feast comes the reckoning”,  “Every white has  its black, and every sweet its sour”, etc. The fact that the species component is more productive, it is explained by the word’s covering of all types. For example, the word “tree” can replace “oak”, “plane”, “apple tree”, “willow” and the names of other specific trees.  

Equivalence or proximity is observed in some of the onomastic phraseologisms included in the phraseological system of different peoples. For example: The tree is known by its fruit. The apples on the other side of the wall are the sweetest. Never a rose without thorns.  An apple never falls far from the tree. General meaning of the mentioned paremias of English and Azerbaijani languages is the same. If Azerbaijani language means a tree and its yield in the latter in general, then in the English idiom the specification was made on apple. 

The content of phytonymic phraseology covers the attitudes towards different areas of human life and human qualities. When people create figurative expressions, they refer to a number of items and events with which they interact. In the meantime it definitely depicts the facts which people communicate mostly, surround and observe as the object of comparison. They also generalize phytonims by seeing similarities of their lifestyle in only a certain part of it. In our opinion, the attribute of the object that people try to summarize a material of nature, i.e. its existence in its natural flow, regardless of human thought and living in accordance with the relevant area of human life are taken as a basis in such points. The comparison of the events of human life with the natural fact showed natural and general essence of the facts and events in human life and thought. The following classification is more noticeable in this regard:

1) Those related to the quandaries of life: A hard nut to crack. Verbal translation: Life is not a bed of golden roses.

2) Resolution: Grasp the nettle and it won’t sting you.

3) Indecision: To beat about the bush. 

4) Resemblance: There is small choice in rotten apples. 

5) Relationship, resemblance: As the tree, so the fruit. Verbal translation: Yield looks like its tree.

6) Strength, unity, and weakness: Oaks may fall when reeds stand the storm. Little strokes fell great oaks. Verbal translation: Weak blows also destroy large oaks. Great oaks from little acorns grow. 

7) Diligence: He that would eat the fruit must climb the tree. 

Phraseological units with phytonim components were created on the basis of human observations on the plant world and their attitudes towards the plants. Researchers estimate that, phraseologies consisting of ‘rose’ component make up about 7% of phytonymic phraseology of the English language (See: (Arsentyeva, 2006)). The rose is considered a symbol of beauty, love and youth among English people. Phraseology like English rose is distinguished as real English beauty and as fresh as a rose – meaning as fresh as a rose flower.

The second most productive phytonym is apple (5.8%). For instance, an apple of another tree; apple – pie order; to upset smbs apple. Four phraseologies with “apple” structure belong to Biblical mythology: Adams apple; apple of discord, the apple of ones eye; the apple of Sodom.

Phraseological units containing the component ‘nuts’ make up 5% of phytonymic phraseologisms: Be nuts on smth; be nuts to smb. This component represents efforts on a particular case. For example: a hard (tough) nut; he who would eat the nut must first crakc the shell (he that would eat the kernel must crack the nut)- verbal translation: Break the hazelnut first if you want to eat the kernel (the one who wants fish throws himself into the river).

The exploration of national-cultural specifics of phraseology assumes great importance in terms of studying national language landscape. It is possible to perceive the realities of the English and Azerbaijani speakers in the process of comparative analysis and to clarify the similar and distinctive reasons on expressing the attitude. The study of the above-mentioned due to phytonymic phraseology helps to reveal a lot of causes of national attitudes towards different types of plants. National identity is defined at the semantic level according to main phraseological meaning.


Phraseology with an onomastic component forms a special layer in phraseological and paremiological systems of various languages. Onyms of all types function as an integral component of a phraseological unit. Onomastic phraseology can be classified based on the types of onomastic units of a language. Such a classification makes it possible to distinguish groups such as anthroponymic, toponymic, zoonymic, phytonomic, hydronymic phraseology and to study each of these groups separately on the materials of both one language and diferent-system languages.

Phraseological and paremiological units containing phytonym components form a certain majority in different languages and their number is higher than anthroponyms, toponyms, hydronyms and other onym units. Phraseology with phytonim and zoonym components are comparable in terms of both productivity and meaning pecularities. 

The main indicator of the definition of phytonymic phraseologisms are phytonims. However, lexical units referred to botosemiotics, such as “forest”, “garden”, “planting”, “field”, as well as words denoting the name of the plant yield also serve as designation markers of phytonymic phraseologism.

The use of species names is observed In phytonomic phraseology. The components such as “flower”, “tree”, “grass” express species in such units. The substitution of the component on the basis of species and type is recorded in phytonymic phraseology of the compared languages. The alternation manifests itself in phraseological systems of both the same and various-system languages. 

Ethnocultural markers and codes in phytonymic phraseology, one of the main language units in which national-cultural components are verbalized, are connected with the constituent phytonym component.

Species names are more involved in the setting up phytonomic phraseologisms, since the plants are divided into species and plant species into types.

Species names “tree” and “flower” are most often used in the composition in phytonymic phraseology. The functionality of these species’ names can be justified by their role and their frequent use in human life. 

Adequacy, equivalence and non-equivalence are revealed in phytonymic phraseology included in the phraseological system of various peoples. Adequacy and equivalence originate from the similarity of plants and their yield, as well as that of the characteristics of these plants. Non-equivalence is characterized by distinct views on a particular feature in national civilizations. Phytonymic phraseology displays a number of ethnocultural motives of national attitude towards different plant types. General meaning of phytonymic phraseology is related to various aspects of human life and human qualities.


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