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Журнальный клуб Интелрос » Лабиринт » №4, 2013

I. Hudabiunigg
«The Russian bear dances until dawn»: The animal metaphor for Russia and its representatives in German media (2000 – 2013)

Has the age-old ethnic caricature for Russia turned macho? The report on one of the “hottest, wildest, most expensive night spots” in Moscow, a club for the “nouveau riche” gives the impression, that Russian billionaires use their masculinity besides their money to treat scantily clad women as a kind of commodity for their disposal. But why does the article in a German quality newspaper catch the reader’s eye already in its headline by using this animal metaphor?

In several analyses it has been shown that the “Russian bear“ (henceforth RB) is being applied not only to the Russian empire under the czar or the Soviet Union but to “an entire culture” [19] much more so than other ethnic caricatures.

The following analysis will explore this metaphor with the help of cognitive-linguistic methods in its pragmatic context of the media texts.

The data used are from articles on Russia by the German media and mostly by the German quality press. (As a qualitative analysis is intended only a selection of articles will be used). The period covered are the years from 2000 until 2013. In a former article of mine [12] I covered this topic until 2000 and will give here a short survey of the results:

Using the structuralist method and the rows of paradigms between animals and humans established by E. Leach [20], RB, as the main metaphor for Russia, fits in the section: wild animal/ alien. It moreover can be classified as an enemy in opposition to humans in a civilized world. The “collocative meaning” [Note 1] in media texts using RB transfers via association from the animal living in the wilderness shades of meaning that belong to a non-human world onto the country Russia or its representatives. One of the “associative meanings” in the theory of Leach.

Thus it can be concluded, that certain ambivalence is inherent in the metaphor RB. Russia and her respective rulers are shown by the Western media as being incomprehensible and alien. Latent in this image of RB are however features of a dangerous foe, which connects to old enemy images in historical armed clashes.

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