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The "Brotherly People" Metaphor and the Russian-Ukrainian Irredentist War: A Corpus-Based Study


The article examines the "brotherly people" metaphor in the context of the Russian-Ukrainian war and the concept of irredentism. Such kinship/family metaphors are closely associated with colonialism and expansionism. Using a corpus analysis of Russian sources on and Anglophone studies of irredentism published in the period of 1923-2022, this article reveals that these metaphors are an important aspect not only of the scientific conceptualization of irredentism but also of the ideological justification of irredentist wars in both Russian and world history. The comparative analysis of the usage of the "brotherly people" metaphor in the political, academic and non-academic corpora in the Russian language allowed us to capture its ideological content, which justifies the aggression of Russia against Ukraine. The study showed the full semantic range of the "brotherly people" metaphor in the large Russian corpora while connecting it to Russian irredentism: from assertions of cultural, historical and ethnic unity with, support for and assistance for the "brotherly people" to the delegitimization of Ukrainian statehood and the separate ethnic identity of the "brotherly people", and the desire to "protect" them through annexations.


ukraine, war, corpus, linguistics, discourse

Research Article (PDF)

Supplementary File(s)

Appendix 1 (PDF) Appendix 2 (PDF) Appendix 3 (PDF)

Author Biography

Illia Ilin

Illia Ilin is an Associate Professor at the Department of Theoretical and Practical Philosophy named after Prof. J. B. Schad, V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, Ukraine. His main research focus is the philosophical problem of reading (Althusser, Marx, Latour) and the elaboration of the corpus approach to reading.

Olena Nihmatova

Olena Nihmatova has a PhD in Economics, and is currently an independent scholar. She actively adapting corpus linguistics for marketing studies. Previously, she worked at Lugansk National Agrarian University (Ukraine) and defended her thesis about the development of the organic market in Ukraine employing a Marxist approach.