« 2023. # 1 (169)

The Ethnology Notebooks. 2023. № 1 (169), 218—226

UDK 81-119:159.9:39 

DOI https://doi.org/10.15407/nz2023.01.218



  • ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2041-8773
  • Candidate of Sciences in History, Senior Researcher
  • of the Institute of Ethnology
  • of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine,
  • Modern Ethnology Department ,
  • Svobody Avenue 15, 79000, Lviv, Ukraine,
  • Contacts: e-mail: balahutrak@ukr.net

Abstract. Language is the main source of self-awareness of the people  the basic premise of Oleksandr Potebnia’s concept of ethnic psychology, which does not lose its relevance in the period of the Russian-Ukrainian war of the 21st century.

The purpose of the article is to investigate the ethnopsychological ideas of the Ukrainian scientist about the unity of consciousness, language and psychology of the people, formation of the unique status of the ethnic community.

The novelty of the article. Long time before the famous Wilhelm Wundt in his work «Psychology of Nations» (1886), the fundamental concept of ethnic psychology was developed and deepened by Oleksandr Potebnia: it was the idea that the beginning and basis of folk psychology is language, which among other factors, most consistently ensures the processes of identification, self-knowledge and consolidation of the people.

Conclusions. The research legacy and scientific ideas of O. Potebnia had a profound impact on the development of national humanitarianism in the 19th century and subsequent processes of national self-awareness of Ukrainians.

The main research methods are structural and logical, content analysis and system approach.

Keywords: ethnic psychology, folk psychology, ethnic picture of the world, language, thinking, consciousness, national self-consciousness.

Received 22.02.2023


  • Pypin, A.N. (1891). History of Russian Ethnography [in Russian].
  • Sumtsov, N.E. (1893). Contemporary Malorussia Ethnography (Part I) [in Russian].
  • Volkov, F.K. (Vovk), Hrushevskyi, M.S., Kovalevsky, M.M., & Korsha., F.E. (Eds.). (1914). Ethnographic interests and studies. Ukrainian people in the past and present (Vol. 1, pp. 14—37) [in Russian].
  • Chekhovych, K., & Smal-Stocki, R. (Ed.). (1931). Oleksandr Potebnia: Ukrainian thinker-linguist (Vol. 4, book 1). Warsaw: [b. v.]. (Printed by: Vasiliyan in Zhovkva) [in Ukrainian].
  • Potebnia, Olexander, & Tevelyov, Yu. (1992). Language. Nationality. Denationalization = Language. Nationality. Denationalization: Art. and fragm. Ukraine Vilna Acad. Science in the USA. New York: [b. v.] [in Ukrainian].
  • Pavlenko, V.N., & Talgin, S.A. (1992). Introduction to ethnic psychology: Textbook. manual [in Russian].
  • Matseikiv, M.A. (1992). Issues of ethnic psychology in the scientific heritage of O.O. Potebnia. In O.O. Potebnia and problems of modern philology (Pp. 111—123) [in Ukrainian].
  • Kis, R. (2002). Language, thought and cultural reality (from Oleksandr Potebny to the hypothesis of linguistic relativism) [in Ukrainian].
  • Balahutrak, M. (2007). Genesis of ethnopsychology in Ukraine in the 19th century: historical and ethnological aspect [in Ukrainian].
  • Franchuk, V.Yu. (2012). Oleksandr Opanasovych Potebnia. Pages of life and scientific activity. Kyiv: Published. Dmytro Burago’s house [in Ukrainian].
  • (2012). The scientific heritage of O.O. Potebnia in the Slavic cultural space: Collection. of science works, Kyiv: Dmytro Burago Publishing House [in Ukrainian].
  • Franchuk, V.Yu., Shirokorad, F.Kh., Polyakova, Y.Yu. (2005). Oleksandr Opanasovych Potebnia: (To the 170th anniversary of his birth): Bibibliogr. show Kharkiv [in Ukrainian].
  • Potebnia, A.A. (1976). Esthetics and poetics [in Russian].
  • Fizer, I. (1993). Psycholinguistic theory of literature of O. Potebnia [in Ukrainian].
  • Potebnia, A.A. (1993). Thought and language [in Russian].
  • Wundt, V. (1992). Problems of the psychology of nations [in Russian].
  • Potebnia, A.A. (1894). From lectures on the theory of literature: Fable, proverb, saying [in Russian].
  • Humboldt, V. (1984). Selected Works on Linguistics [in Russian].
  • Postovalova, V.I. (1982). Language as Activity: Experience in the Interpretation of V. Humboldt [in Russian].
  • Humboldt, V. (1985). About the spirit inherent in the human race. In Language and culture philosophy (Pp. 337—345) [in Russian].
  • Ramishvili, H.V. (1985). From comparative anthropology to comparative linguistics. In Language and philosophy of culture (Pp. 309—317) [in Russian].
  • Humboldt, V. (1985). The character of the language and the character of the people. In Language and philosophy of culture (Pp. 370—381) [in Russian].
  • Potebnia A.A. (1993). Language and nationality. In Thought and language (Pp. 158—186) [in Russian].
  • Ovsianiko-Kulikovskyi, D.N. (1893). A.A. Potebnia, as a language expert and hinker. In Kievskaia starina (Vol. 42, pp. 30—46, 267—287, 342—363) [in Russian].
  • Potebnia, A.A. (1905). From notes on the theory of literature: Poetry and prose. Trails and figures. Poetic and mythical thinking. Appendices [in Russian].
  • Potebnia, A.A. (1993). About nationalism. In ;Thought and language (Pp. 186—190) [in Russian].


Our authors
Maternity ritualism by volhynians in publications of the second half XIX to the early XXI cc.
In the article have been considered some basic landmarks for fixing and publication of ethnographic materials on the maternity rites of Volhynia with analytical study in ritual elements, their kinds and territories of origin. The article has also raised a problem of gaps in studies of maternity rites of Ukrainian historio-ethnographic Volhynia.
Read »

Wax candle as ukrainian Christmas and epiphany ritualistic text
For the first time in native ethnology the article has brought some results of special study in sign functionality of a wax candle under the context of Ukrainian Christmas and Epiphany ritualistic text (ritualism of Christmas Eve, New Year, Epiphany Eve and Feast of Epiphany). The study has stated extremely high semiotic position of a wax candle as projection of Sun, mediator between the spheres of sacral and prophane elements, symbolic analogue of human existence, apotropy, cultural symbol re-establishing borders of acculturated space.
Read »

On field exploration of russian and belarusian ethnologists and etnolinguists in Ukrainian Polisia 1945—1980s
In the study based on a wide range of literary materials have been comprehensively characterised field research in Polisia of Ukraine, performed by Russian and Belarusian ethnologists during 1945—1980s as well as Moscow ethnolinguists and other researchers from ethnologic centres of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus in the course of realization of Ethnolinguistic Atlas of Polisia program. Particular attention has been paid to geography, methods, themes and research results of scientific projects.
Read »

Daily bread baking of ukrainians in the south-western ethnographical region at the late XIX to early XXI cc.
The paper has dealt with analytic study in prescriptions, signs, customs, methods, ways of selection, procurement and some peculiarities in usage of subsidiary means — water, firewood and leaves in bread baking. The final aim of the mentioned actions had been (and still is) selection of the means and ingredients fit, by their characteristics, for the backing of bread. The paper has demonstrated dependence of bread backing subsi­diary means criteria from the folk nutritional standards and world outlook stereotypes as well as from regional social and economic, natural and geographical factors and peculiarities of material culture.
Read »