This paper aims at introducing an interdisciplinary approach to the comparative investigation of human body and the phenomenon of corporeality in the two semiotic codes – the Russian language and the Russian body language. This “database system (DBS) approach” is to result in the DBS that describes how a human body and its parts are represented jointly in these codes. The methodology of constructing a particular DBS of this type will be closely regarded. The material explored involves Russian verbal and nonverbal units, as well as models, rules and regularities of nonverbal behavior in a face-to-face dialogue. In the paper I shall consider some non-trivial characteristics of human body itself and of its parts and show how they are embodied in the two languages.


1           Introduction


The main object of my study is human body and the phenomenon of corporeality as they are presented in the Russian language and in the Russian body language.[2] These semiotic codes are in а clear cooperation within any dialogue, and the task to describe mechanisms and peculiarities of their interaction is a challenge for any linguist and semiotic scholar.


Human body is a favourite object of many linguistic and semiotic works. But the interests of linguists and semiotic scholars are quite different so far. For example, students in the nonverbal communication have always been concerned only by gestures, i.e. the main units of nonverbal sign behaviour, and by the models of nonverbal behaviour in oral discourse. There are a lot of popular manuals and scientific articles which focus on how people stand or sit, what kind of distance is between them, how they look at each other (if they do), what postures the communicative partners take, whether they touch one another or not, etc. Nowadays these and many other aspects of nonverbal discourse have become widespread topics for study but unfortunately they have been regarded separately from the verbal aspects of communication.


The linguists usually investigate human body and corporeality from a different point of view. Exploring the language they want to know not only how the body is used in the acts of oral communication. To be exact, they want to know how the body behaves from the language’s point of view, or how the body and its usage in the act of communication are spoken about. Their primary interest lies in the field of how languages use to structure the body, what names are given to body and its parts both in different languages and in different situations within one particular language.[3]


The joint forces of linguists and semiotic scholars have brought up some new goals and tasks in the field of human communication. The domain of human body and the phenomenon of corporeality little by little is becoming the interdisciplinary domain of scientific exploration. But linguists and semiotic scholars working on communication usually have different metalanguages and formats for the work. The habitual format for lexical description is, of course, a dictionary, which describes the morphology, gives semantic explanations and accounts for syntactic usage of different words and collocations in the domain of corporeality. But this mode of description is not the only one and perhaps not even the most convenient for the goals we are pursuing. In order to provide both a theoretical foundation and some practical applications for the combined semiotic description another format and approach have been designed. It is a database system (DBS) approach that takes into account how the two codes, Russian and Body Russian, deal with human body and corporeality.