The role of phytonims in the embodiment of the human image in the Turkish language

By Sarkaritel June 11, 2021 20:20

This scientific article is devoted to the use of phytonims in the embodiment of the human image in the Turkish language. The units used to express positive and negative traits are analyzed. The wide range of language possibilities in the expression of the human image through phytonim is considered. In Turkish, the emphasis is on the vocabulary of the language in depicting human figures and their characters.

The human image has always been the focus of philosophers, writers, linguists, psychologists, and religious leaders. This image is reflected in the form of a multidimensional scale-system, which is realized in various forms related to a person’s appearance, mental abilities, age, nationality, social status, psychological state.

The vocabulary-semantic field of man corresponds to the strict definitions of “human”with minimal knowledge.

Humanis a creaturewiththegiftofthinkingandspeech, theabilitytocreatetoolsandusetheminthesocialprocess.

Humanis a socialbeingwhoisthesubjectoflabor, mind, intellect, socialandhistoricalactivity, andculture.

Of course, the meaning of the term “human” is much broader than that reflected in the definitions of explanatory dictionaries. Different types of speech allow us to expand this concept with the following formulas and definitions:

Humanis the ruler of the world, the ruler of all living and non-living things, including himself, body and soul. A miracle of creation, a genius, a “crown of nature,” who values everything and everyone, endowed with intelligence and super clever, emotion and high sensitivity;

opposition, contradiction, and, at the same time, dialectical unity, attraction, interaction, and contradictions in reciprocal relationships, forces, substances, qualities, and the focus of attention;

king and a slave, the immortal substance of the soul, and at the same time a perishable earthly body, and so on.[1]

These and many other statements about human allow us to confirm that his inseparable image is directly connected not only with real reality, but also with other possible and impossible worlds, with the infinity of the universe in time and space.

The human image reflects positive and negative qualities.

In Chinese philosophy, during the Confucian period, a system of human values was created, which included the positive qualities of kindness, honesty, devotion, loyalty, morality, diligence, generosity, wisdom, etc.: wise man, noble man, noble land, humane land, a man of will, and so on.

The ideal man is considered a noble man with three basic qualities: charity, wisdom, and courage. These three features were considered common.

In addition to the concepts of positive categories, the term “little man” is also used to describe a person’s personality. Usually, the little man resists the noble land, and in his image all the negative things that people encounter are combined.

“The real husband thinks only of justice, the little man only thinks of profit.” There is a lexical corpus to describe all aspects of human life in every language. But,such a corpus often lacks direct lexical signs to describe a person.Then the secondary corps comes to the rescue. Secondary lexical-semantic variants, which are formed from primary lexical-semantic variants on the basis of any similarity, identification, are used to describe a person in a figurative sense. In the formation of secondary lexical-semantic variants, lexical units that already exist in the language are used, which participate in the processes of semantic formation in order to deepen and expand knowledge about the person.

The systematic and complex description of such units in the modern linguistic literature is given in the works of many researchers (Yu.D. Apresyan, V.N. Telia, E.S.Kubryakov, N.D. Arutyunov, T.V.Bulygina, A.D. Shmelev, V.V. Kolesov, M.V. Pimenova, M.P.Odintsova). , L.B. Nikitina, N.A.Sedova, N.D.Fedyaeva, V.P.Zavalnikov and others).

One of the directions of semantic development of lexical units is the formation of secondary lexical-semantic variants, based on the names of trees and shrubs, plants, cereals, flowers, herbs, vegetables, fruits, mushrooms and other phytonims.

The use of phytonims to characterize a person has existed since ancient times. After all, from the time of man’s existence, he lived in close harmony with nature and treated the surrounding trees and plants differently: he revered and protected some as a place of pilgrimage, feared others, and used others in daily practical life.

In the current period of scientific and technological progress, in the XXI century, when information technology is rapidly entering all spheres of life, the influence of literary language on the vernacular, dialects is great. This, in turn, cause some of the tools available in the vernacular to be forgotten and gradually disappear. Undoubtedly, one of such lexical units is plant names in Uzbek language.

Theassociationsofmanwiththeobjectsoflivingnature, whichappearon a figurativebasis, havedeeproots. Theyaretheresultofcomplexmentaloperations, providingdifferentrepresentativesoftheplantandanimalworldwithspecificqualitiesandthengivingthemspecificfeatures, basedontheircommonfeatures, anycommonalityinthesignofhismind.

Theplantkingdomisoneofnature’streasures. Itisknownthatourpeoplefromtheearliesttimestriedtoknowandstudythepropertiesofplants. Theyhavebeenusedtotreatvariousailments.

Theproblemoffigurativenominationof a personthrough a phytonymicdictionaryhasnotlostitsimportanceinlinguistics. Thereasonforitslinguisticvalueliesinthecontinuousprocessofself-realizationinthelivingnatureenvironmentthatsurroundshuman. Thisprocessisconstantlybeingprovidedwithnewformsofanthropocentricinterpretationofthezoosphereandphytosphere, andisspreadingwidelyanddeeply. Ontheonehand, itcoversallthenewlayersofvocabulary, ontheotherhand, itpenetratesintodifferentlevelsoflanguagelevels.Themostpowerfuloftheselevels – thetextlevel – isnotleftouteither.

Strictly speaking, at the text level, the process of understanding human in terms of the flora / fauna world has always taken place, but such nominations have not been considered in conjunction with or separately from other levels. As an example of such textual interpretations, let us name the works of art by J. Hawks’ “Owl” and J. Aldridge’s “The Eagle of the Sea,” where the images of birds are projected onto the characters, describing them through a prism and their qualities.

Advances in science and technology, the globalization and rapid application of scientific advances, and the rapid and easy access to inventions and technologies are increasing the need for language and setting new, promising, and complex tasks for linguists..

Language is directly and indirectly related to the spirituality and culture of a nation. As long as there is no pure language among the languages of the world, it is not possible for a certain language to live at the expense of its own words. One of the stable laws for the language process is that a certain mix of moving languages, one influencing the other. From the point of view of the inseparable connection of language with the concepts of spirituality and culture, it is impossible to be indifferent to the word and the customs and traditions of a particular nation, which are being mastered at its core.

The fact that the Uzbek and Turkish languages have the same roots means that they have similarities and differences. The expression of the human image with the help of phytonyms is given on the basis of the way of life and worldview of the speakers of both languages.

While phytonyms often serve to express a person’s appearance, zoonyms embody more human character. In the Uzbek language, the combination “sarviboyuli” and “sarvqomat” (beautifully figured) is given in the same way in Turkish as “selviboylu” (beautiful stature).

As the flower is used in the sense of elegance and beauty, the expressions “guldayqiz” (flower girl), “guldayoila” (flower family), “guldayhunar” (flower profession), “qo’li gul” (flower hand) are widely used in Uzbek to express the beauty of everything. In Turkish, the word “rose” means a rose and resembles a beautiful girl.

Unrestrained, young people who are just entering the big life are like navnihol” “yangichiqqannihol” (new shoots). This can also be found in the Turkish language, which means “Fidangibi” (like a sapling).

A word “filiz”, meaning bud, is used for young, beautiful people, such as seedlings.

Theemergenceofanthropocentricmeaningsintheepigmaticsofzoonymsandphytonimstakesplacesoquicklythatthereisnotimetowritethemdownindictionaries, whichexplainsthedifferencesintheirwordcombinations. Thisfactconfirmsthehighdemandforzoonymicandphytonymicvocabularyforthenominationofnewconceptsandtruthsthathaveemergedinitinmodernsociety, andtheexpediencyofregularlinguisticrevisionoftheresultsofsuchnominations.


Researchhasshownthatwhen a personisnominatedforsexonthebasisofphytonims, non-linguistic (sensitive) informationisprocessedonthebasisoffivesenses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste).Forexample, the word “lemon” express 1) jargon, unpleasantbehavior2) uglygirl, mug, mordovorot 3) lightskinmulatto (inthespeechofblacks); the word “banana”exprass 1) joke, clown, comedian 2) a beautifulmulatto.[2]

Inthefieldofphytonymicnominations, unmotivatedsimilaritiesarenoticeable, whichallowustoconcludethattheselectedfeatureofthephyto-objectisconditionaltonameanyqualityof a person.Lookingahead, wenotethatsuch a conditionalpropertymanifestsitselfinallelementsofthefigurativestructureofthefigurativeconceptof “person / person”.

Thebeginningofthestudyofphytonymicdictionaryisassociatedwiththenameof F.I.Buslaev, whoputtheculturologicalaspectoftheresearchinthefirstplace. Thus, hepointedouttheconnectionbetweenthenamesoftheplantworldandthespiritualcultureofthepeople, emphasizingthat “… thenomenclatureofplantbotanytakesusto a mythologicalperiod” (Buslaev, 2011: 17).

Researchonthesameaspectwascontinuedin M. Zobilin’s “People’sFlowers”, inwhichthescientiststudiedindetailthereflectionofplantnomenclatureinRussianfolklore (beliefs, conspiraciesandfoxes, rituals, customs). So, ifyoufumigateyourweaponwithgrasswiththorns, thennot a singlebirdcanescapethebullet, andifyouputthreemagicpeasinthebellyof a killedsnake, buryitintheground, thenwhentheflowergrows, cutandeatatmidnight, youcanhavegreatpower – readtheopinionsofothers (Zabilin, 2014: 477-478, 480).

V.A. Merkulovaphytonims (especiallyediblegrasses, fungi, andberriesthatgrowinthewild) areetymologically, i.e., semanticallymotivatedintermsofword-formationstructure, semanticmotivationthatexplainstheoriginoftheword, andlearnsfromformalrelationshippatterns. (Merkulova, 1967: 5) … Theauthoremphasizesthatoneandthesamephytonymcanhavedifferentdesignations, whichreflectsthepeculiaritiesofthefolklorenamesofplants, whicharebothlinguistically

InKopocheva’s “RatioofArtificialandNaturalNominations (BasedonPlantNames)” shestudiesphytonimsfrom a motivationalperspectiveandidentifiesobjectiveandconditionalsignsofmotivation, thefirstbeingdividedintoobjective (shape, color) signs, size, generalspeciesofplants, smell, taste) andrelative (localcharacteristics, timeofplantactivity, itseffectonhumansandanimals) (Kopocheva, 1985). Nominatively, fromanaxiologicalpointofview, ananalysisofphytonims (aswellas a vocabularyrepresenting a candidatefortheanimalkingdom) isgiveninVendina’s “RussianLinguisticImageoftheWorldthroughthePrismofWordFormation (Macrocosm)”.

It is impossible not to agree with the researcher that the study of the facts of word formation in this context allows to enter into the value system of a nation, to understand the importance of the so-called truths for native speakers. It provides the key to understanding the ethnic psychology of a nation (Vendina, 1998: 9-10).

Ethnobotanical records devoted to the analysis of “phyto-portraits” or single plant images carried out within the framework of cultural linguistics are an interesting phenomenon among the scientific works on phytoenymy.

For example, V.B. Kolosova explores the place of the phytonym “shuvoq” (wormwood) in traditional Slavic culture and argues that despite its beneficial properties (the plant has long been used by the Slavs as a medicinal tool), wormwood is anti-phytonym. (Kolosova, 2004: 28).

Such an active study of phytonymics in terms of various aspects confirms the importance of the phytonymic dictionary as one of the oldest lexical microsystems.[3]

In the Turkish language, phytonims and their representation of human beings are not sufficiently studied. If we compare it with the Uzbek language, we can see many differences and similarities.

In Uzbek, the word “tilizahar” (poison tongue) is used in Turkish “dikendilli” (thorn-tongued) to mean “poisonous tongue”. Indeed, just as a thorn hurts the body, a bitter word hurts. The compound “biberdilli” (pepper tongue) is also used for people who use bad words more. A small but very bitter variety of pepper is called “kelinningtili” (bride’s tongue) in Uzbek, and is a certified plant in Turkish botany is called “Kaynanadili” (mother-in low tongue).

The crimson apple-faced expression is also called “elmayanaklı” (apple cheek) in Turkish.

The metaphor of “lablari qizil gilosday”(red cherry lips) is used in the same way to describe people with “kiraz dudakli”(cherry lips) and “nar çiçeği” (pomegranate blossom) and “menekşe gibi” (violet) to describe very beautiful people. Transient beauties are interpreted as “bahar çiçeği gibi” (like a spring flower).

Whatever is around the ivy plant hangs and grows. That’s why it’s called a person who doesn’t put on other people’s skirts “Sarmaşık gibi” (like an ivy).

“Kabak çiçeği gibi”(Like a pumpkin flower) is used to describe people who dress brightly, who like brightness and attention.

A kind, sensible woman, especially in the definition of mothers,  “Reyhan kokulu” (basil scent ) is widely used in both Uzbek and Turkish to describe the smell of basil.

The examples above show that there are similarities between the two languages. But there are also phrases that come in different senses. In Turkish, a person who does not understand is compared to “Armut gibi” (like a pear). The combinations “Kavun kafalı”(Melon Head), “Odun gibi” (Like Wood), “Ot kafalı”(Horse Head) also have the same meaning.

A word “Kütük gibi”(stump-like) personis a personwhoisgreedyanddoesnotbenefitanyone.

Theimageof a personremovedfromtheworkplaceorfromanypositionisrepresentedbythecombination“Yaprak gibi koparıldı” (cutofflike a leaf).

Poplaristhenameof a treeinTurkishandisusedas a “poplar” fortallpeople.

“Karpuz gibi göbekli” (Watermelon-likebelly)meansfatbelly, fatas a ball. “Çınar gibi” (Like a planetree)is a long-livedandpatientoldman, andinthisexampletheclosenessandsimilaritybetweenthetwolanguagesisclearlyproved.

Todescribe a blackman, theanalogyof“üzüm gibi” (like a grape)isused. “Patlıcan burunlu” (eggplant-nosed) – a slightlylarger, crow-nosed, thatis, intheportraitofanadultwith a largenose.

Itisalsouseda fraze“mısır püskülü” (egyptiantassels) – forscatteredcurlyhair, “fasulye sırığı”(beanpeel) – forthinandlongpeople, “çam yarması gibi”(likepinenuts) – forstrong, energeticpeoplefromthewomb.

Ingeneral, thecreationofanimageof a personthroughphytonimsshowsthebreadthoflanguagepossibilitiesandenhancesartisticexpression. Itservestobroadenthestudent’shorizonsandmake a broaderimpression.


SalimovaZebo Rustam kizi

Teacher at the “Department of History, Culture, Politics

and Economics of the Turkic Nations”

of the Tashkent State University of Oriental Studies

Tel: +998 99 811-26-87


[1] [Odintsova, M.P. Insteadofanintroduction: tothetheoryoftheimageof a personinthelinguisticpictureoftheworld / M.P. Odintsova // Language. Human. Picture of theworld. Linguo-anthropologicalandphilosophicalessays (basedontheRussianlanguage). / ed. M. P. Odintsova. – Omsk: Omsk. stateun-t, 2000. – Part 1. – S. 8-11.].

[2]Anikina T.V. DerivativestructureofphytonymicphrasesinEnglishandRussian. Scientificresult. Questionsoftheoreticalandpracticallinguistics. Vol.4, №4, 2018

[3]Kechaikina, L. M. (Boyarkina L. M.) The concept of a person / personality “in zoonymic reflection and its verbalization in English linguoculture (based on the lexeme a rabbit) I L. M. Kechaikina //.


By Sarkaritel June 11, 2021 20:20