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Russian, was: terminal dialect?

From:Brian Betty <bbetty@...>
Date:Wednesday, March 31, 1999, 21:19
Christophe Grandsire wrote: "I think you exagerate the association between
social change and linguistic change. The example I always give is the one
of the Russian Revolutions in 1917. The social change that happened during
that revolution was the most important one any country ever beared during
History. The country, which was very rural and religious, became in less
than 10 years industrial and atheist. No other social change in any other
country can be comparable.  BUT, the Russian language didn't change at all
during the revolution. Well, at least, its rate of change didn't change
during the revolution. The social change didn't accelerate the linguistic

On 3-31-99, Nik Taylor wrote: "Hmm, interesting.  However, altho there may
be counterexamples, it still holds as a general rule.  I AM rather
surprised that linguistic change wasn't at least temporarily accelerated."

I would note that I'm not sure of a few of the things C. Grandsire asserts
so boldly - 'the most important one ever beared in History,' for example,
is highly contentious, and I do not agree that Russia became atheist and
industrial. Certainly there was great change in the lives of most persons
living within the confines of Russia, but I doubt that atheism set in
instantly and only certain parts of Russia were industrialised overnight.

That said, that period was only 10y long, and from what I understand from
my Russian teacher in high school, there was quite a bit of linguistic
change ... orthography, word choices, and the like. Perhaps someone more
familiar with Russian could give examples of this beyond the rise of the
word 'tovarishch.' And certainly modern Russian as it is spoken in Moscow
is not so similar to the Russian of peasant speakers at the beginning of
the century.

This 'revolutionary' situation also occured in Mandarin Chinese, where the
situation was more clear-cut because even 'Chinese' China is linguistically
extremely divided, whereas in Europe, the linguistic divisions roughly
correspond to different nations ... if Europe and the Middle East were
since the founding of Rome a single nation with only occasional relapses
into separate, warring states, Westerners would have a more balanced
understanding of how China works than we currently do. The only other
comparisons we make are to Australia, the US, and the Iron Curtain
countries, all clearly inaccurate models for understanding China.


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