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УДК 811.111:7.097                                                                      О.С.Коломійчук

Житомирський державний університет імені Івана Франка

В статье раскрывается понятие «ток-шоу» как дискурса, характеризующегося морально-этической семантической составляющей. Автор исследует и систематизирует теоретические материалы по теме исследования. Проведен лингвистический анализ текстов американских ток-шоу, в процессе которого отобраны лексические единицы, вербализующие концепт МОРАЛЬНОСТЬ/АМОРАЛЬНОСТЬ. Систематизована структура концепта как универсального лингвистического образования. Репрезентация концепта МОРАЛЬНОСТЬ/АМОРАЛЬНОСТЬ в американских ток-шоу рассмотрена с позиции трехкомпонентной структуры концепта.

Ключевые слова: ток-шоу, концепт, моральность, аморальность, лексическая единица, семантика.

В статті розкривається поняття «ток-шоу» як дискурсу, що характеризується морально-етичною семантичною складовою. Автор досліджує і систематизує теоретичні матеріали по темі дослідження. Проведений лінгвістичний аналіз текстів американських ток-шоу, в процесі якого відібрані лексичні одиниці, які вербалізують концепт МОРАЛЬНІСТЬ/АМОРАЛЬНІСТЬ. Систематизована структура концепту як універсального лінгвістичного утворення. Репрезентація концепту МОРАЛЬНІСТЬ/АМОРАЛЬНІСТЬ в американських ток-шоу розглянута з позиції трьохкомпонентної структури концепту.

Ключові слова: ток-шоу, концепт, моральність, аморальність, лексична одиниця, семантика.

The article is devoted to the disclosure of the notion “talk show” as a discourse that is characterized by the presence of moral-ethical semantic constituent. The author explores and systematizes the theoretical materials on the topic of study. The linguistic analysis of the texts of American talk shows was conducted, during which the lexical units verbalizing the concept MORALITY/AMORALITY were selected. The structure of concept as a universal linguistic formation was systematized. The representation of concept MORALITY/AMORALITY in the American talk show was considered from the position of three componential structure of the concept.

Key words: talk show, concept, morality, amorality, lexical units, semantics.

Problem statement in the general form and its connection with important scientific and practical tasks. The communicative structure of talk show depends on the speakers’ intent and his desire to effect on the opponent’s mind or emotional sphere. Using specific lexical and stylistic means allows a speaker better realize his ideas to the guests and participants of TV show. The subjective structure of talk shows distributes over wide range of topics, some of which may concern ethical aspects, disturbing the modern society. The moment of opposition between guests always foresees some extent of moral and ethical contradiction, because each person is individual in his views and attitudes to what is right or wrong, good or bad for him and those living in the society. The moral aspects of talk shows are interesting not only as a psychological phenomenon of relations between different people, but also as a linguistic characteristic of using certain words and expressions denoting explicit or implicit information of ethical nature. This interest to lexical-semantic features of the concept MORALITY/AMORALITY in the American talk shows stipulated the choice of aim of our article.

Formation of the aims of article. The aim of this article is to study the ways of representation of the binary concept MORALITY/AMORALITY in the modern American talk shows.

Analysis of the basic publications and studies. The problem of MORALITY and IMMORALITY was of great interest in the spheres of sociology, ethics and aesthetics etc. that effected its distribution in the language sphere, which responds to any changes in the life style of its population most rapidly. As a result of increasing interest to the study of the concept MORALITY and IMMORALITY in linguistics a lot of works are devoted to the structure and ways of representation this concept as ethical one in the language: N. V. Vdovychenko studies the moral-ethical concepts as linguocultural unique words [14]; I. V. Kononova analyzes the structure and linguistic representation of the ethical concepts based upon the materials of the ethical concept Conscience [3]; S. I. Menshikova studies the structure of meta concept MORALITY through the prism of semantic features of the notions, which are included into the specified concept [7]; N. V. Solyar explores the ways of verbalization of the hypocrisy in the modern English language in the linguistic and cognitive aspects [11] etc.

The problems of realization linguistic aspects of MORALITY/AMORALITY in the American talk shows were studied through the psychological and pragmatic prisms. Thus, V. O. Kalamazh studies the psychological peculiarities of speech behaviour of hosts of the American talk shows [2]; E. G. Larina analyzed ethical aspects of talk shows through their linguopragmatic peculiarities as a genre of television discourse. The scientist made important conclusion that ethical aspects of talk shows depend on the interactive or vivid character of telecommunication and national-cultural specificity of the speakers’ perception [5]; О. А. Mitchuk studies conflict environment of Ukrainian talk shows [8], V. Pavliv analyzes ethics and morale as typological features of the television texts [9] and etc.

Separation of the parts of the general problem unsolved earlier, to which the article is devoted. In spite of the big quantity of works devoted to the study of the concept of MORALITY/AMORALITY, the problem of its verbalization in the discourse of American talk shows has not been studied yet that stipulates the novelty of our article. In spite that talk shows play the important role in forming the social opinion, they almost have not been explored yet.

The statement of basic material of study along with full substantiation of the obtained scientific results. First of all, within the topic of our study, we should notice that talk shows in the USA are widely distributed as their unique cultural phenomenon. The history of talk shows in America takes the beginning from 1967, when the first one appeared on the TV screen [10, p. 124]. Secondly, it is required to analyze what the term “talk show” means in order to understand its specificity. According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English “talk show” is interpreted as “a television show in which famous people answer questions about themselves” [6].
A. Yu. Salikhov offers the following definitions of “talk show” – a type of TV show, in which several invited guests, usually celebrities, discuss the topics, offered by a host [10, p. 124]. Taking into account the colloquial characteristic and provocation character of the majority of talk shows, the special interest should be paid to its moral-ethical aspects and conceptual representation. Following the definition of a concept suggested by O. S. Kubriakova [4], we understand the concept as a mental substantial unit of the memory or lexical system that reflects the picture of the world through the cognitive or psychological human activity.

The concept MORALITY/AMORALITY in the linguistic paradigm of talk show is characterized by using specific lexical and stylistic devices, which reflect the perception of a speaker in relation to acceptance or judgments of somebody’s action. The concept MORALITY/AMORALITY reflects the perception of Americans about what is “good” or “bad” in their society. Generally, the lexeme MORALITY means “1) belief or an idea about what is right and wrong and about how people should behave; 2) the degree to which something is right or acceptable” [6]. The semantics of word AMORALITY enters into direct opposition to the previous one, having the meaning of “absence of moral standards at all” [6]. Therefore, the specified notions form binary opposition of the notions of MORALITY and AMORALITY based upon the antonymic and antinomy relations.

For the purposes of our study, we used the illustrative sources taken from The Oprah Winfrey Show [1; 12; 13].

Taking into account the three-layer structure of any concept [4], i.e. its composition of the basic words, peripheral meanings and national-cultural or associative values in the meaning (connotation component), we have detected the basic words denoting the semantic meaning of MORALITY/AMORALITY. Analysis of the above-specified talk shows allows us speaking about presence of words inside the concept, which bear the main meaning of moral action as good one and amoral as bad one.

We separated the following lexical units verbalizing the meaning of MORALITY: moral [13], good [13], grateful [13], dedicated [13], conscience [13], love [1], respect [1], credibility [1], genuine [1], responsibility [1], humanity [1], truth [1], kindness [1], grace [1], compassion [1], honour [1], charity [12]:

  • BONO: I mean, right across, you know, both sides of the aisle, there’s – there’s people who are actually waking up that … has a moral force [13]. In the following sentence the word moral bears the meaning of good actions. It is interpreted as “relating to the principles of what is right and wrong behaviour, and with the difference between good and evil” [6]. The expression moral force means that a person is highly conscious and is able to understand what is good. It supposes presence of internal force, courage and wisdom in order to show moral force.
  • MARTIN: …You know, it’s all about charity and how amazing it is to find locals doing whatever they can to help in any way, shape or form [12]. The word charity belongs to the concept of MORALITY because it reflects the meaning of “kindness or sympathy that you show towards other people” [6]. As we see from the above-mentioned definition and the represented content, the word charity suggests giving some voluntary help. Any help done sincerely can be considered as display of high personal morality and desire to be needed for people in the difficult life circumstances.
  • But it is my role and I think I take it as my responsibility to be a connector to the human heart space [1]. Analysis of the word responsibility shows that it belongs to the concept MORALITY. Its dictionary definition is as follows: “a duty to be in charge of someone or something, so that you make decisions and can be blamed if something bad happens; something that you ought to do because it is morally or socially” [6]. On the assumption of this definitions, it is possible to extract the semes “morally”, “duty”, “ought”, which point out on MORALITY
  • Because if you’re a viewer, sitting at home in America or India or wherever, and you see a child eating out of a trough with a pig, you think that that demeans the humanity of that child [1]. The word humanity in the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English means “kindness, respect, and sympathy towards others” [6]. The specified displays of personality are related to the good behaviour, so they can be perceived as moral ones. Kindness and respect to other are socially accepted phenomena, which regulate behaviour between individuals in the society. If a person has this complex of qualities, which form his humanity, he can be called moral one.
  • And President Bush and I are dedicated to the proposition that we’re going to finally get real results in the lives of people who have nothing [13]. The word dedicated is characterized by the positive expressive colouring. Dedication means “hard work or effort that someone puts into a particular activity because they care about it a lot” [6]. Dedication can be perceived as moral act, because it supposes loyalty to a person or some case. In this example, two persons (President Bush and author of the article [13]) are devoted to the idea of helping people who have nothing or are very poor.
  • They know who he is, as a lot of American stars that have real weight in – in Africa, and – and I think we’ve got to – we’ve got – we’ve got to be grateful for that [13]. Being grateful is being moral. Gratitude means “feeling that you want to thank someone because of somethingkind that they have done, or showing this feeling” [6]. The act of expressing gratitude is considered as moral one, because a person doesn’t forget the good and kindness showed in relation to him.
  • O’NEILL: …a primary education for every human being, dealing with the problems of HIV/AIDS, the American people are very generous people and they will respond to the opportunity to help other people have a life that gives some fulfilment instead of one that’s hopeless [13]. The word generous means “someone who isgenerous is willing to give money, spend time etc, in order to help people or give them pleasure; sympathetic in the way you deal with people and tending to see the good qualities in someone or something” [6]. This notion belongs to the concept MORALITY because generosity supposes presence of such qualities in a person as sympathy to the others’ grieves, and wishes to help them voluntarily.

The wish to help and showing kindness to others is directly connected to the concept MORALITY, taking into account that these features of personality are highly appreciated by the society, for example:

  • We all love, admire and respect Oprah Winfrey so immensely [1];
  • Did you know, listen to this guys, did you know that poll after poll in the United States of America routinely says Oprah Winfrey has way more credibility that any president or any head-of-state [1];
  • For some it’s like you can actually do physical things, like you can cook, or you can bake, or you can sew, or you can share opportunities, or you can open a door for somebody, or you can use your kindness and your grace in a way so that the energy of yourself moves out into the world, in a way that when that comes back to you, it gives to you [1];
  • I thought when I looked at it again, years later, that I had more compassion for murderers and that I was defending my territory, defending my name and defending my brand of the Book Club [1];
  • I couldn’t understand the paradox of a country that loves its family, loves its tradition and has such respect and honour for their elders, and how do you get cast aside because your husband has died [1].

Among the words and word-combinations expressing the meaning of AMORALITY are as follows: hurt [13], lacks of humanity [1], discrimination [1], shame [1], embarrassment [1], evil-minded [13].

  • ELEANOR: They don’t want to share with me plates, cups. They ignore us. They ignore me. That hurts me very much and it makes me sick [13]. The action of hurting has negative connotation. The verb hurt means “to make someone feel very upset, unhappy, sad etc.; to have a bad effect on someone or something, especially by making them less successful or powerful” [6]. Taking into account that hurting others supposes arising negative feelings in them or making bad effect on their consciousness, we can appropriate this actions to amoral ones. In the example above, the verb hurt is considered as amoral, because Eleanor feels that others ignore her. For her, ignoring is perceived as amoral action, as she feels sick of that.
  • And if you get those drugs to the poor places and you save lives, I think you’re gonna make it a lot more difficult for extremist groups to whisper, you know, evil-minded ideas about America [13]. In this example, the word evil directly points out on its belonging to the concept AMORALITY. In the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English is has the following definition “someone who is evil deliberately does very cruel things to harm other people; something that is evil is morally wrong because it harms people; something that is evil is morally wrong because it harms people” [6]. In this example, the expression evil-minded ideas reflects the meaning of amoral thoughts, which extremist groups express about America. The amorality of these thoughts supposes thinking bad about America and its population, and desire to harm them.
  • Because, everybody thinks that it is the actual act of being molested or abused. It isn’t. It’s the shame that it causes [1]. The word shame means “the feeling you have when you feel guilty and embarrassed because you, or someone who is close to you, have done something wrong” [6]. The semes feel guilty, embarrassed, do wrong allows us relating them to the concept In this example, the feeling of shame is connected with the negative reaction of a speaker on the acts of molestation and abuse.
  • Where intelligent women stand to allow the pervasive discrimination of a woman because her husband died, for something you don’t have any control over [1]. In modern society the problem of discrimination is considered as very serious one. Generally, the word discrimination renders the meaning “the practice of treating one person or group differently from another in an unfair way” [6]. The seme unfair allows appropriating this word to the concept AMORALITY. As an act of treating to the other people, discrimination in the society is perceived as amoral action, because it humiliates the dignity of a person because of the race, gender or other signs.

The lack of humanity is also related to the concept AMORALITY because it supposes absence of kindness, sympathy in regard to other people that is accepted as indifference in the society. Thus, the lack of humanity is judged by the society:

  • Oprah Winfrey:I’m a connector with stories. I use stories to connect people and show our humanity, not our lack of humanity [1].

The further analysis showed that some lexical units in the American talk shows chosen for the purposes of our study belong to the peripheral group of the concept MORALITY/AMORALITY. This group of words and word combinations is characterized by the implicit meanings

  • belonging to expression of MORALITY: take care of [13], hero [13]:
  • WINFREY: I appreciate that. I think that we are now moving into an area in our own lives where we know that taking care of other people is how we can best take care of ourselves [13]. In this example the expression taking care of other people is related to the concept of The process of taking care means showing a sympathy, compassion and voluntary desire to be useful for others.
  • BONO: In the end, rock stars, film stars, hip-hop stars – I mean, we’re just getting paid, you know, to do what we love. You know, we’re not heroes. These people are heroes [13]. The word hero means “a man who is admired for doing something extremely brave; the man or boy who is the main character in a book,film, play etc.” [6]. From this definition we can extract such seme as brave. In order to be brave a person must have the high feeling of moral force.
  • belonging to expression of AMORALITY: sexual abuse [1], rage [1], discrimination [1], offender [1], war [13]:
  • She has tirelessly advocated for victims of sexual abuse, bravely sharing her own experience of having being abused as a child, you’ve got to hand it to her for doing that [1]. The expression sexual abuse directly belongs to the concept of AMORALITY, because it supposes doing action that bears criminal or antisocial character. From the context, it is confirmed by using the words victims, i.e. the act of sexual abuse means unfair treating to the other person, subduing of his will and wishes etc.
  • There is no rage, even though there are lots of people in the street and there’s lots going on [1]. The display of rage as an emotion can be also related to the concept AMORALITY because it supposes uncontrollable actions – “a strong feeling of uncontrollable anger” [6]. Uncontrolled behaviour is considered as antisocial, that’s why it is related to the concept
  • Barkha Dutt:And then you got the Clinton Administration to actually put through what was known as the Oprah Bill, a database of all offenders against little girls who have been sexually abused [1]. The word offender means “someone who is guilty of a crime; someone or something that is the cause of something bad” [6]. According to the definition, offending can be considered as antisocial behaviour. Thus, offending is perceived as bad and evil act, because it violates the rights of other people.

From the analysis of talk shows, we see that the concept of AMORALITY is frequently related to the antisocial actions, for example, prostitution [12], pornography [12]:

  • So he built a hospital for the disabled in Puerto Rico and is helping to rescue little girls in India from a life of prostitution [12];
  • The biggest problem society is facing at the moment is – child trafficking is an industry that generates $7 billion a year and the mission, their mission, is to force children into prostitution, force children into pornography, and this is happening all over the world, Oprah [12].

The most interesting constituent of the semantic structure of the concept MORALITY/AMORALITY, in our opinion, is represented by the third element, i.e. national-cultural or associative values. Let’s consider the following examples:

  • WINFREY: But what I’ve read and what I’ve heard is that you are unlike any other celebrity in that you don’t try to promote your celebridom [13]. In this example the word celebridom is regarded as AMORAL, that becomes clear from the context of the next sentence: WINFREY: Yeah. My favorite quote on celebrity comes from John Updike, who says “Celebrity is a mask that eats up the face”… [13]. Therefore, cerebridom means behaviour of a person that lies or wear mask in order to hide its true nature or thoughts. Usually, celebrities try to be extraordinary and eccentric in behaviour that often contradicts to the morality.
  • If you cannot adopt this baby, please take him to the orphan helping centre, please [12]. In this example, the expression orphan helping centre is associatively connected with the concept Such centres are created in order to help children, which became orphans and can’t care of themselves. Therefore, helping to these orphan children is moral because it supposes showing care, kindness, sympathy to children.
  • MARTIN: Yeah. The craziest story that I’ve ever heard is about a man that, thank God, was arrested less than a year ago. He paid $10,000 to have sex with a five-month-old baby. I’m sorry, but I need to be this raw… [12]. In this example, we see the description of amoral action, because it contradicts to the social norms of behaviour of adults to little children. A man wants “have sex with a five-month-old baby”. This is not acceptable in the legal society, and is considered as a criminal act.

Conclusions of study and perspectives of further development in this direction. Summarizing the above-mentioned it is possible to conclude that the concept of MORALITY/AMORALITY consists of three basic layers. The first layer, i.e. the layer of notions is represented by the followings units: moral [13], good [13], grateful [13], dedicated [13], conscience [13], love [1], respect [1], credibility [1], genuine [1], responsibility [1], humanity [1], truth [1], kindness [1], grace [1], compassion [1], honour [1], charity [12]; hurt [13], lacks of humanity [1], discrimination [1], shame [1], embarrassment [1], evil-minded [13]. As we see from these notions, the lexical units bearing the meaning of MORALITY prevail in the American talk shows. In the second layer – peripheral group – the words relating to the concept MORALITY/AMORALITY are represented by the units having explicit or implicit meaning: take care of [13], hero [13]; sexual abuse [1], rage [1], discrimination [1], offender [1], war [13]. The third group – national-cultural and associative – is represented by the words, which meaning becomes understandable from the context. Here we extracted the followings words and expressions: celebridom [13], orphan helping centre [12], paid $10,000 to have sex with a five-month-old baby [12].

The top priority interest of the further analysis is represented by the study of linguo-cultural specificity of the concept MORALITY/AMORALITY and their verbalization in the English language.



  1. Full transcript: In conversation with Oprah Winfrey [Electronic resource]. – URL:
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  3. Kononova I. V. About the structure and linguistic representation of the ethic concepts (based upon the material of concept Conscience) / I. V. Kononova // Izvestiya of the Russian State Pedagogical University named after A. I. Herzen. – 2008. – No.5. – P. 68-76.
  4. Kubriakova E. S. Concept / E. S. Kubriakova // Brief Dictionary of Cognitive Terms. – M.: Publ.-house of MSU, 1996. – 245 p.
  5. Larina E. G. Linguopragramic peculiarities of talk shows as a genre of television discourse (based upon the American television programme) / E. G. Larina // The abstract of dissertation for obtainment of the scientific degree of a candidate of philological sciences. Specialty 10.02.04. – German languages. Scientific advisor, d.f.s., prof. L. G. Fomichenko. – Volgograd State University. – Volgograd, 2004. – 22 p.
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  8. Mitchuk О. А. Talk show in the Ukrainian art as conflict environment / O. A. Mitchuk // TV and Radio Journalism. – 2013. – Iss. 12. – P. 340-345.
  9. Pavliv V. Ethics and morale as typological features of television texts / V. Pavliv // TV and Radio Journalism: Collection of scientific-methodical works. – Lviv, 2012. – Iss. – P. 158-162.
  10. Salikhov A. Yu. The ways of talk show effect on the outlook formation / A. Yu. Salikhov // Vestnik of Chelyabinsk State University. – 2013. – No. 22(313). – Philology. Art studies. – Iss. 81. – P. 124-131.
  11. Solyar N. V. Linguocognitive aspect of determination of hypocrisy in modern English language / N. V. Solyar // Modern directions of the researches of intercultural communication and methods of teaching foreign languages: collections of the scientific works. – 2011. – P. 342-
  12. The Oprah Winfrey Show Transcript [Electronic resource]. – URL:
  13. Transcript: Bono on the Oprah Winfrey Show [Electronic resource]. – URL: – Это 2002
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