Transformation of the Concept “Refugee” in Ukrainian and German Linguocultures (Case Study of Psycholinguistic Analysis)

  • Аndrianna Milio National Academy of Security Service of Ukraine
Keywords: psycholinguistic analysis, “refugee/Flüchtling”, lexicographic analysis, seme analysis, receptive experiment


This paper focuses on the study of discursive transformations of the notion of REFUGEE in comparison with the data of Ukrainian and German lexicographic sources. By means of psycholinguistic analysis, the article aims at specifying the changes in the semantic composition of “refugee/Flüchtling” lexemes, which are caused by the latest discursive social and political practices.

The psycholinguistic analysis consisted of two parts – lexicographic analysis and the receptive experiment, which allowed for the comparison of the lexicographic (historically formed) meaning of “refugee/Flüchtling” lexemes with their psycholinguistic (discursive semantic modifications caused by social and political events of the 21st century) meaning. Lexicographic meaning is understood as the dictionary definition, whereas psycholinguistic meaning – as the interpretation of experimental data, allowing you to specify the meanings associated with the word in the minds of native speakers of the languages studied.

Comparison of lexicographic meanings and those obtained during the receptive experiment showed a number of significant differences: in the minds of native speakers, unlike lexicographic sources, the reasons for refugeeism (fear of becoming victims of persecution, natural disaster, catastrophes, life threats) are detailed; semantic components identified by means of the receptive experiment are more emotionally coloured (search of safety, free labour, spiritual causes of refugeeism, discrimination); in the minds of native speakers etymological meanings reappear (‘the one in need of protection’, ‘the one who has lost everything’, ‘fugitive / exile’); the receptive experiment contributed to the elicitation of social causes of refugeeism represented in native speakers’ minds (hunger, unemployment, privation, low standard of living, poverty, economic crisis); the receptive experiment made it possible to elaborate external circumstances predetermining refugeeism (war, terror, external aggression, occupation, dictatorship, violence, conflicts).

Psycholinguistic meaning of “refugee/Flüchtling” lexemes turned out to be much closer to the native speakers’ linguistic consciousness than lexicographic one, although it is possible to admit that in any experiments, there are always semantic components that are not actualized by certain interviewees during the experiments.


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How to Cite
MilioА. (2018). Transformation of the Concept “Refugee” in Ukrainian and German Linguocultures (Case Study of Psycholinguistic Analysis). PSYCHOLINGUISTICS, (23(2), 165-179.