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ISSN 2227-6017 (ONLINE), ISSN 2303-9868 (PRINT), DOI: 10.18454/IRJ.2227-6017
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Klimasheva O.V., "IMPLEMENTATION AND ROLE OF NVC IN DECODING SEMANTIC DOMINANT IN A LITERARY TEXT". Meždunarodnyj naučno-issledovatel’skij žurnal (International Research Journal) № 9 (111) Part 3, (2021): 144. Mon. 20. Sep. 2021.
Klimasheva O. V. IMPLEMENTATION AND ROLE OF NVC IN DECODING SEMANTIC DOMINANT IN A LITERARY TEXT / O. V. Klimasheva // Mezhdunarodnyj nauchno-issledovatel'skij zhurnal. — 2021. — № 9 (111) Part 3. — С. 144—148. doi: 10.23670/IRJ.2021.9.111.099




Научная статья

Климашева О.В.*

ORCID: 0000-0002-7835-7021,

Российский университет транспорта, Москва, Россия

* Корреспондирующий автор (oklima[at]


В статье рассматриваются некоторые аспекты изучения НВК, представленных в художественном тексте, в рамках экспериментального исследования. Цель исследования − теоретическое и экспериментальное обоснование наличия стабильных текстовых параметров, влияющих на функциональные отношения между вербальными и невербальными компонентами коммуникации. Также целью экспериментального исследования НВК является аргументация положения о том, что НВК − смыслообразующий компонент содержательной структуры художественного текста. В рамках поставленной цели автор указывает, что способ представления НВК может занимать доминирующее место в процессе понимания текста, проводит анализ фрагментов, взятых из различных произведений американской классической литературы. Научная новизна работы состоит в том, что впервые предпринята попытка психолингвистического анализа невербальных компонентов коммуникации, представленных в тексте, с точки зрения их смыслообразующей роли. Кроме того, экспериментально исследованa роль невербального компонента коммуникации в репрезентации доминантного смысла текста. В результате исследования сделаны выводы о безусловной актуализации НВК при репрезентации смысловой доминанты текста.

Ключевые слова: невербальные компоненты коммуникации, смыслообразующий компонент, смысловая доминанта текста, акциональные компоненты, личносный смысл, художественный текст.


Research article

Klimasheva O.V.*

ORCID: 0000-0002-7835-7021,

Russian University of Transport, Moscow, Russia

* Corresponding author (oklima[at]


The article discusses some aspects of the study of NVC, presented in a literary text, in the framework of an experimental study. The aim of the study is theoretical and experimental substantiation of the presence of stable text parameters that affect the functional relationship between the verbal and non-verbal components of communication. Also, the purpose of the experimental study of the NVC is to argue the position that the NVC is a semantic component of the content structure of a literary text. Within the framework of this goal, the author points out that the way of presentation of the NVC can occupy a dominant place in the process of understanding the text, analyzes fragments taken from various works of American classical literature. The scientific novelty of the work lies in the fact that for the first time an attempt was made to psycholinguistically analyze the non-verbal communication components presented in the text from the point of view of their meaning-forming role. In addition, the role of the non-verbal component of communication in the representation of the dominant meaning of the text was experimentally investigated. As a result of the study, conclusions were drawn about the unconditional actualization of the NVC when representing the semantic dominant of the text.

Keywords: non-verbal components of communication, semantic component, semantic dominant of the text, actional components, personal sense, literary text.


Non-verbal (non-linguistic) means included in a speech message represent, along with verbal means, semantic information. NVC plays a special role in the literary text. For a long time, the problem of understanding a literary text has been and remains the most acute problem of philology, and the question of the role of non-verbal components in a text is not the last place in this problem. The experiment carried out was aimed at arguing the position that NVC (non-verbal components of the text) are a semantic component of the content structure of a literary text. The purpose of the experimental study of the NVC is to argue the position that the NVC is a semantic component of the content structure of a literary text. At the same time, it is necessary to show the mutual influence of the verbal and non-verbal components of the text as its structural components. In accordance with the aim of the study, the following tasks were set: to consider the communicative role of non-verbal components functioning in the text, to determine the ways of verbalization of the NVC, to experimentally verify the specifics of understanding fragments of a literary text with a non-verbal component and to establish the dependence / independence of the understanding of the NVC on the way it is presented.

Unsufficient knowledge of the ways of presenting NVC and their representation in a literary text determines the relevance of this work. When studying the functioning of non-verbal components, it is important to determine those properties that determine the characteristics of their use. So, it is important to emphasize that a paralinguistic sign does not exclude the ability to perform any function of a natural linguistic sign. Moreover, many researchers believe that non-verbal information removes the ambiguity of interpretations of the verbal text. It was suggested that it is the NVC that can be the starting point for understanding the text. At the same time, the way of presenting the NVC can occupy a dominant place in the process of understanding the text. For example, word signs, for the most part, are conventional symbols, that is, unmotivated and denote the realities of reality. Non-verbal signs, in particular, gestures and facial expressions, are mostly index signs … and signal feelings, emotions, evaluative attitudes, for example, frowning eyebrows signal discontent, disagreement, doubt, etc. Conventional symbols denoting realities, evaluative attitudes (for example , head movements with positive or negative answers) also have no motivation. Only iconic signs imitating the shapes or sizes of objects are motivated [7]. So the facial expression, which is defined as “not to raise your eyes,” conveys at least three meanings:

  1. a) embarrassment and shyness in front of the interlocutor due to a number of objective and subjective reasons,
  2. b) shame, perhaps exaggerated by one’s own consciousness,

c ) fear of being punished.

All three meanings are linked by causal associations. Nodding your head can mean:

  1. a) “I am listening to you carefully,”
  2. b) “I understand what you are saying,”
  3. c) “I agree with what you are saying,”
  4. d) “I sympathize with you”.

The content structure of such NVC is variable and situational, and the content is always syncretic, therefore it is difficult to find an unambiguous verbal correspondence for such NVC. The third group includes homonymous NVC. For example, “snapping your fingers” in different situations expresses annoyance (“Oh, I forgot!”), Delight or unexpected joy of discovery (“This is great!”), A desire to attract someone’s attention. These meanings, as a rule, are interpreted unambiguously through the simultaneous use of components of facial expressions and words. In some cases, it is the non-verbal elements that carry the main semiotic load, becoming, sometimes unconsciously, the core of communication.

Thus, the study of NVC in the semiotic aspect allows one to present a typology of non-verbal signs, to show their semiotic functions, to emphasize the commonality of the functions of NVC and verbal signs in the process of communication. Each researcher offers his own classification of NVC. I.N. Gorelov proposes to classify all meanings of NVC into indicative, descriptive, modal, impulse, question, affirmation, negation, complex meanings and symbolic meanings – moreover, there are subgroups within the listed groups. O.V. The Wise divides all NVC into sign and indicative paraverbal means.
V.A. Labunskaya grouped human non-verbal behavior into four main categories: acoustic, optical, tactile-kinesthetic and olfactory [8, P. 7].

Of the 196 kinesic units included in the special dictionary [1], only 48 units have stable conventional significance. Most of them actualize social significance based on gender (22) and social status (13). This indicates that stratification and situational variation is also characteristic of the paralinguistic level.


The total number of recipients who took part in the survey was 162 people, the material of the experiment was the works of fiction in English of the early – mid-20th century by famous American writers. Various research methods were used in the experiment: scaling (nominative and interval scales), comparative method. Linguistic research begins with the use of a nominative scale (gender, age, education, etc.). This allows us to classify this linguistic fact as a certain category and to distinguish all the facts of the language obtained in the course of work. The interval scale is used to determine the nuclear, transient and peripheral responses of the respondents. The quantitative characteristics of linguistic phenomena in this study get meaning only in the context of comparison, which necessitates the use of scaling.

As a result of the experiment, 162 questionnaires were received, which were further interpreted. For a more thorough argumentation of the conclusions, professional translations of experimental fragments of the text were used, which were compared with the translations of the informants. As a result of the experiment, 54 phrases were identified. These phrases were analyzed and categorized according to their properties to various types of NVC. The percentage of the use of certain types of NVC was determined and diagrams were drawn up, schematically representing the results obtained.

Several fragments from famous works of American writers were selected for recipients, for example, a fragment from the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald “The last of the belles”: …When I waved back at him he grinned and winked, jerking his head towards the girl at his side. Then, digging her in the ribs, he jerked his head at me… [2, P. 218]

It contains several verbally expressed NVC, namely: the gesture of greeting waved back; facial expressions expressed by the emotionally colored predicate grinned and the predicate winked; a pointing gesture in the form of a predicative group (jerking his head) and a gesture expressed in a phraseological unit, which includes the predicate and the circumstance of the place digging her in the ribs. The waved gesture and mimic winked gestures are presented in the text with linguistic units that are simple in their lexical and grammatical structure. A pointing gesture is represented by a predicate containing a continuation with the ending -ing. The lexical meanings of the words representing these NVC have unambiguous semantics. This presentation of the NVC usually does not complicate the interpretation of the text. Phraseologism digging her in the ribs has semantics that are rather difficult to interpret. In the dictionary of modern English, this phrase is interpreted as follows: “to push someone with a finger or the elbow so as attract attention” [10, P.897]. Therefore, the presented gesture can be interpreted as a gesture of attracting attention and presented in the Russian version with the predicate “push” or the predicative phrase “push with the hand / elbow to the side”, as well as the phrase “slightly push on the shoulder”. The selected fragment of the text is positively colored, as evidenced by the contextual components, including non-verbal components, namely the use of a smile in the text, expressed by the metaphorical predicate grinned, which has positive semantics in the language. It can be argued that this fragment contains NVC, functionally equivalent to the verbal statements “Hello!” (waved back), “Look! ” (grinned and winked), “This is my girl” (jerking his head), “Pay attention” (digging her in the ribs), “This is my friend” (jerked his head at me) and the semantic dominant of the text is realized by their joint application. NVC in this text fragment can be considered of paramount importance, as the deployment of the image is carried out precisely with the consistent actualization of their various types – gesture, smile, facial expressions, gesture. That is, the change of the NVC performs a structure-forming function here.

When the fragment was presented to the subjects, the text was analyzed as follows.

At the first stage, the scale for assessing the character’s emotional state in the range from -5 to 5 points reflected a wide range of assessments: from extremely negative to extremely positive. At the same time, 70% of informants (113 out of 162 people) assessed the character’s internal emotional state as negative (the score varied from -2 to -5), 28% (42 people) as positive (on average 4 points), and 2% of informants refused perform the task. At the next stage of the experiment, the recipients were asked to emphasize the key words and phrases in the original text, with the help of which the author, in the opinion of the informants, conveys this very state. In this fragment, the subjects reveal a functional commonality of the verbal and non-verbal components of the fragment, despite the difficulties in understanding the latter. When analyzing a fragment of the text, the recipients identified the same language units: grinned and winked (smiled and winked) – 85% of the subjects, jerking his head (nodding his head) – 37%, digging her in the ribs, he jerked … (pushing her into side, he nodded) – 67%. The recipients highlighted these non-verbal components in the text, although their verbalization into Russian could not always be regarded as adequate: for example, certain difficulties arose in understanding the metaphorical verb to dig. Many recipients selected lexemes with a meaning close in meaning to the described action, but they were unable to correctly match the meaning with a similar NVC in our culture. In the translation, the recipients indicated most of all at the NVC, which was presented in the form of phraseological units (72%). The predicative group was identified by 53% of the subjects, and the NVC in the form of single predicates – by 25% of the students. According to the ideas of the majority of the subjects, this action describes a positively expressed state of the character: 30% of the informants assessed this state of the character as joy and 12% as admiration (the author describes a friendly form of presentation or acquaintance). 38% of the recipients considered that this fragment described a negative emotion – anger. This interpretation does not coincide with the research one, since in this context these NVC convey disposition to another character, friendliness and affectionate relationship.

Since all informants learn the language only within the framework of their specialty, it may have been difficult for them to analyze the text presented in the experiment. The difficulty in the assessment consisted, firstly, in the inclusion in the description of the NVC of lexically loaded predicates that have a special semantic figurative-associative meaning in the text and replace a completely verbal statement. Hence follows the second condition that prevents recipients from adequately understanding the text – the influence of the realities of another culture. There were negative assessments and reactions, as well as refusals, fixing the impossibility or unwillingness to understand a foreign language text.

Let’s take another snippet:

… Ailie swimming away with a grim little stroke she had, and Shoen wallowing riotously around her and ahead of her, sometimes pausing and staring at her … [2, P. 229] contains two types of NVC: actional components expressed by predicatives with the circumstance of the mode of action, and the look expressed by an emotionally colored verb. The circumstances of the course of action accentuate the inner state of the character, help to understand the essence of what is happening: away, around, ahead. A weakly expressed metaphony in the NVC also contributes to an increase in the severity of the character’s state. Another feature of these NVC is that they depict actions taking place in the water: swimming… with a grim little stroke, wallowing riotously, pausing, staring. NVC are dominant: the multiplicity of predicates, the rapid change of one action to another contributes to the dynamic deployment of the image. The active continuous form of the verbs emphasizes the expressiveness of what is happening, creates the effect of the character’s persistence. The author emphasizes the obtrusiveness of actions with the characteristic lexeme riotously, and the characteristic lexeme grim captures the character’s negative attitude towards such actions.

In the course of the experiment, the subjects identified phrases in the text, representing the NVC, as follows: actional components – 75% and 35% glance. The informants identified both stand-alone predicates and predicative groups representing actional NVC. A glance expressed by an emotionally colored single predicate was also noted by some of the recipients. Partially there was a violation of the integrity of the presentation of the text in the reader’s projections. Here 20% of the subjects indicated other linguistic means that contribute to an adequate description of the character’s internal state, 42% of the respondents – actional components, 38% – glance. Verbal descriptions of the hero’s state as joy – 5% of informants, 10% – assessed him as anger, 10% – anxiety, 75% – dislike, which reflects the semantic orientation of the content of the text.

In this case, a relatively small piece of text contains a large number of non-verbally expressed components – four linguistic units describing a particular movement. Their content is emphasized by other linguistic means: the phrase swimming away conveys unwillingness to contact; the duration of what is happening is emphasized by the prolonged form of the verb, etc., the circumstance of the mode of action, complicated by indicative lexemes, the emotively expressed predicate staring, etc. NVC integrate the meaning of all the listed units into a single pragmatic, informative and figurative-associative meaning. Not all recipients were able to understand this unity.

Finally, consider another passage from the American classic literature W. Saroyan “The pheasant hunter”: …Mrs. Maloney didn’t quite know how to say that it was. She remained silent and tried not to look at either her husband or her son… [2, P. 152]

It includes an extralinguistic component (silence) and a look, represented by predicative groups. NVC are dominant and convey the inner state of the character. They are not complicated by tropes of various kinds or lexical units: remained silent and tried not to look. The predicate includes a negation to indicate that an action has not been taken. The phrase preceding the NVC expresses the silence of the character and verbalizes the expression. This state can be defined as fear, confusion, refusal to communicate. The specificity of the non-verbal components used in the text was that, despite the fact that they had simplified semantics and programmed unambiguity of perception, with their help the author achieves the maximum expression of the character’s feelings. Due to the unambiguity of the internal information of the NVC data, stability was assumed in the assessments of the recipients and the correct determination of the emotive-evaluative composition of the character’s internal state.

The recipients’ understanding of the internal state was fully reflected in the scaling: the recipients noted the hero’s state either as neutral (20%) or as negative (80%), the scores on the scale varied in the range: from 0 to -5. The NVC presented in the text were noted by absolutely all subjects (100%) in the original text. The same components were simultaneously reflected in the Russian interpretation, but with the least number of translations performed. (70% of respondents). Some informants (30%) either refused to translate or did not indicate in the translated text any language units representing the NVC. Perhaps this is due to the interpretation of a fragment that is quite simple in its semantic composition. Perhaps they considered it inappropriate to «re-present» this passage in the form of translation. The hero’s state was also noted correctly: confusion (50%), shame (45%), confusion (15%), surprise (10%), resentment (5%). Some recipients noted several conditions at the same time, which indicates an adequate understanding of the text and a desire to describe this condition in more detail, in detail.

In this case, in a text that is not complicated grammatically, syntactically and lexically, it is easy to interpret and evaluate the character’s inner state. The NVC in this fragment are expressed in a neutral way, and the recipients were able to easily create projections of the text. The corpus of examples could be continued and for everyone interested in this problem there is a sufficient number and are described in detail in my dissertation [4, P. 128-175].


Based on the experimentally obtained data, it could be argued that the non-verbal components of communication presented in this literary text are included in the system of representation of the dominant personal meaning and purposefully accentuate it, and a single NVC of any modality does not significantly affect the representation of the dominant meaning of the text.

Also, in the process of understanding the text by students, we found that

– the higher the expressiveness of the text (including due to the presentation of the NVC), the more difficult it is for recipients to give an adequate translation of the text and assess the inner state of the character;

– NVC as a specific component of communication, even with a low level of linguistic competence, is recognized by informants in the text, which also testifies to the unconditional significance of NVC data as a component of the semantic dominant;

– in combination with other linguistic means of NVC, which have an auxiliary meaning, contribute to a deeper understanding of the text by the recipients;

– NVC specifically represent the semantic dominant of the text;

– the expressiveness of the text can be enhanced thanks to the NVC, presented in one way or another in the text;

– the content of expression in a text fragment depends on the number of presented NVC and the way they are verbalized in the text;

– the emotional-expressive component can be expressed without the NVC, however, the use of NVC along with other means of representing the semantic dominant corrects the understanding of the text and performs an auxiliary function in assessing the inner state of the hero.

The study showed that informants reveal the commonality of the verbal and non-verbal components of the fragment, their interconnection and interdependence. Despite the cases of difficulty in understanding, the recipients manage to identify these characteristics of the text, which are responsible for the implementation of the semantic dominant.

The number of NVC presented in the text in one way or another affects the understanding and interpretation of the text. 


Д.ф.н., проф. Пищальниковой В.А.


PhD in Philology, prof. Pishal’nikova V.A.

Конфликт интересов

Не указан.

Conflict of Interest

None declared.

Список литературы / References

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Список литературы на английском языке / References in English

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