The Transformation of Russian from a Language of the Soviet Type to a Language of the Western Type

  • J. A. Dunn
Part of the International Council for Central and East European Studies book series (ICCEES)


It would be surprising if the events that have taken place in the former Soviet Union over the past ten years or so had not affected the Russian language. Indeed, the advent of glasnost’ and perestroika in the second half of the 1980s and then the rapid disintegration of the Soviet system following the collapse of the coup d’état in August 1991 have led to significant changes which are principally reflected in the field of vocabulary and in certain socio-linguistic areas, notably attitudes both to existing features of the language and to new elements that have appeared in the past few years.


Television Programme Russian Language Political Correctness Soviet Period Grammatical Form 
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  1. 1.
    See for example: Patrick Seriot, Analyse du discours politique soviŽtique (Paris: Institut d’Žtudes slaves, 1985); idem, ‘Langue de bois, langue de l’autre et langue de soi. La quête du parler vrai en Europe socialiste dans les annŽes 1980’, Mots 81, 1989, pp. 50–66; F. Thom, La Langue de bois (Paris: Julliard, 1987); I. Zemcov, Sovetskij političeskij jazyk (London: Overseas Publications, 1986); Vadim Belov, ‘Mify sovetskogo jazyka’, Atmoda, 29 January 1990; A.D. Duličenko, Russkij jazyk konca XX stoletija, Slavistische BeitrŠge 317 (Munich: Sagner, 1994), pp. 99–114.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Reflected in book titles such as Slovar’ perestroiki (St Petersburg: Zlatoust, 1992) and common phrases such as ‘перестроечный жаргон’ (see example 62). See also Ljudmila Ferm, Osobennosti razvitija russkoj leksiki v novejšij period (na materiale gazet), Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Studia Slavica Upsaliensia 33, Uppsala, 1994.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Duličenko, op. cit., pp. 113–17.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    See also V. Šoxina, ‘Russkij kèmp’, Nezavisimaja gazeta, 22 March 1994; J.A. Dunn, ‘From Soviet block to post-Soviet camp’, Rusistika 13 (1996), pp.8–9.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    See also V.G. Kostomarov, Jazykovoj vkus èpoxi (Moscow: Pedagogika-Press, 1994), p. 207; Duličenko, op. cit., pp. 311–12.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Kostomarov, op. cit., pp. 201ff.; Galina Kuroxtina, ‘Novye slova i značenija v sovremennom russkom jazyke’, Rusistika 13 (1996), pp. 24–5.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    For example, Èduard Volodin, ‘Slovar’ perevernutogo vremeni’, Sovetskaja Rossija, 12 September 1992; the already cited article by A. Tille (example 2) and the various contributions printed under the collective title ‘V zaščitu rodnogo slova’, Moskva, 1994, No. 8, pp. 145–53; for a more academic statement of the same position (and a defence of purism) see Duličenko, op. cit., passim, but especially pp. 315ff.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    In an interview with Professor Galina Belaja of the Russian State Humanities University: ‘Ne ustupaja Oksfordu’, Moskovskie novosti, 1992, No.36; there does not appear to be any suggestion that women studying at this university will not be eligible for normal degree courses.Google Scholar
  9. 12.
    The question of whether the word имидж has an adequate Russian replacement has been the object of some discussion, for example, in Kostomarov, op. cit., pp. 81–2, and on the television programme Press-klub (ORT, 15 November 1995). The definition in L.K. Graudina, E.N. Širaev (eds), Kul’tura parlamentskoj reči (Moscow: Nauka, 1994), pp. 212–13, stresses that this word is used for something deliberately cultivated (‘Целенаправленно создаваемый’).Google Scholar
  10. 14.
    The use of Church Slavonic and archaic elements in post-Soviet Russian is examined in more detail in Džon Dann [John Dunn], ‘Cerkovnoslavjanskie èlementy v jazyke sredstv massovoj informacii’, Slavica Quinqueecclesiensia I (PŽcs, 1995), pp. 127–36.Google Scholar
  11. 15.
    ‘Теперь мы знаем что такое, как говорил один, что [sic] есть ху’ (broadcast on Ostankino TV, 22 August 1991). Who the ‘один’ was is not known to this writer, but, as the reference in V.M. Mokienko’s article in this volume shows, the phrase has become firmly associated with Gorbačev.Google Scholar
  12. 17.
    Instances have been found in the intervening period, for example: Aмериканцы поддерживают Ли потому, что его ленты стыкуются с идеологией политкорректности, новым кодексом строителя светлого будущего, который правит бал в США. (Jurij Gladil’ščikov, ‘Majk Li, pevec prostogo pipla’, Itogi, 1996, No.3).Google Scholar
  13. 18.
    See for example Grigorij Buxvalov, ‘Vo dni somnenij’, Vek, 1994, No.38; also the collection ‘V zaščitu rodnogo slova’ (see note 7) and Duličenko, op. cit., pp. 258–65.Google Scholar
  14. 19.
    Published in Segodnja, 5 July 1995.Google Scholar

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© J. A. Dunn 1999

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  • J. A. Dunn

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