STEREOTYPE (greek – στερεός stereos – solid + τύπος typos – print) is a cognitive model shared by members of a social group, which is a result of their experience and which represents in a compressed form all the socially significant phenomena.

Stereotypes are studied in psychology, sociology, linguistics. Walter Lipmann, an American writer and scientist, was the first to introduce this term. He defined stereotypes as person’s simplified evaluative idea of some phenomenon, which is not derived from their own experience.

American philosopher Hilary Putnam was the first to study stereotype from linguistic perspective. He suggests two possible definitions for the term: on the one hand, a stereotype is “a conventional (usually intentional and inaccurate) idea of what is X, what X looks like and what it does” [Патнэм, 1999, с. 207]. On the other hand, in certain linguistic communities due to division of linguistic labor language users may be divided into common users, which has a stereotypical idea of a notion sufficient to communicate with other speakers, and experts, that share comprehensive knowledge on the topic.

Stereotypes are represented in speech and lexicon not only via words and simple judgments but also complex concepts [Бартминьский, 2005].

German linguist Uta Quasthoff suggested a broader definition for the term and described it as a cognitive structure expressed both explicitly and implicitly, which renders the knowledge about the world within a certain cultural context [Quasthoff, 1989].

Another approach may be found in the works of George Lakoff. Social stereotype may be considered as a case of metonymy, where subcategory is recognized by the speakers and represents the whole category [Lakoff 96]. Members of a linguistic community share the same set of stereotypes, which reflect socially relevant categories. For instance, a housewife-mother in a certain culture is a better example of a mother in general. However, not all mothers are housewives, and the category of working mother will be opposed to an “ideal” one. Thus, stereotypes do not fully reflect the reality and therefore are subjective and incomplete.

It is noteworthy that social knowledge may be also reflected in such cognitive structures as cultural models, context models, cultural scripts and idealized cognitive models (ICMs).


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A. Makoveyeva