Ain't it beautiful? The conceptualization of beauty from an ethnopragmatic perspective

Anna Nikolaevna Gladkova, Jesús Romero-Trillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


This study addresses the question of the ethnopragmatic conceptualization of 'beautiful' in three European languages - English, Russian and Spanish. Specifically, it investigates the polysemy and the spheres of application of the following words: English beautiful, Russian krasivyj, Spanish bonito/a, as the words that better represent aesthetic positive appraisal in these languages.The data for the study comes from three online corpora: Russian National Corpus (Russian), Cobuild Wordbanks Online (English) and Corpus de Referencia del Español Actual (Spanish). Through corpus analysis methodology we investigate the most common collocations and the pragmatic and contextual uses of these terms.On the basis of this analysis our study proposes semantic explications of the words beautiful, krasivyj, and bonito/a in universal human concepts within the theoretical framework of the Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM). In particular, we investigate the presence of the perception universals identified by NSM: SEE, HEAR, and FEEL, which in our data are central to the analysis of the aesthetics vocabulary along with the primitives GOOD, SOMEONE, SOMETHING and THINK.To sum up, the article elaborates, describes and reveals similarities and differences in their perceptions of 'beautiful' across the three languages in relation to the nouns modified by this concept.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-159
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Aesthetics
  • Beautiful
  • Contextual sifting
  • Corpus linguistics
  • Ethnopragmatics
  • Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM)

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