Russianism, Russism, or Russicism is an influence of the Russian language on other languages. In particular, Russianisms are Russian or russified words, expressions, or grammar constructs used in Slavic languages, languages of CIS states and languages of the Russian Federation.

However, the scope of the Russian language influence is wider. For example, in Italian Russisms rank fifth and sixth after Anglicisms, Gallicisms, Germanisms, Hispanisms, and Arabisms.[1]

Classification by Ajduković

Jovan Ajduković reinterprets and innovates the "theory of transfer" of lexical borrowing (е.g., Rudolf Filipović 1986, 1990) and introduces the "theory of approximate copying and activation" of contact-lexemes.

In the "theory of transfer", the concept of Russianism (Russism) in lexicographical sources in the broader sense means (1) an unmotivated or motivated word of Russian origin which has kept a strong formal-semantic connection with the corresponding word in Russian (e.g. Serb. baćuška, votka, dača, samizdat, sputnjik, uravnilovka), (2) an unmotivated or motivated word of Russian origin which has partially or completely lost its formal-semantic connection with the original Russian word owing to adaptation (e.g. Serb. blagovremen, iskrenost, istina, pravda, ljubimac, ljubimica, predostrožan, predostrožnost), (3) an unmotivated or motivated word of non-Russian origin borrowed through Russian (e.g. Serb. agitprop, agitpropovski, almaz, bandura, aul, kilka, tajga, čaj, korsak, jantar, kumis, kaftan, aršin) and (4) an unmotivated or motivated word of Russian or non-Russian origin borrowed into the receiving language through a transmitter language (e.g. Maced. boljar, kolhoz, sovhoz, kolhozovština). For example, the transmitter language in Russian-Macedonian language contacts is Bulgarian or Serbian (Ajdukovic 2004: 94; 340).

In the "theory of approximate copying and activation" (so-called "Ajdukovic's Theory of Contacteme"), the concept of Russianism (Russism) means a word having one or more "independent contactemes", which have arisen under the dominant influence of Russian (e.g. Serb. vostok, nervčik, knjiška, bedstvo, krjak). Jovan Ajduković introduce the term "contacteme" for the basic unit of contact on each separate level of language. He distinguish "contact-phoneme", "contact-grapheme", "contacteme in distribution of sounds", "prosodic contacteme", "derivational contacteme", "morphological contacteme", "semantic contacteme", "syntactic contacteme", "stylistic contacteme", "contact-lexeme" and "contact-phraseme" (e.g. Serb. čovek u futroli, Baba Jaga, pali borac, planska privreda, široke narodne mase, Sve srećne porodice liče jedna na drugu, svaka nesrećna porodica nesrećna je na svoj način) (Ajdukovic 2004: 99; 340) (see also Ajdukovic's Homepage) Archived 2009-01-09 at the Wayback Machine.

Russianisms and Russification

In countries that have long been under the influence of Russian Empire, Soviet Union, and modern Russia, Russianism is a direct result of "russification", when native words and expressions were replaced with Russian ones. Russianisms are especially frequent in Ukrainian and Belarusian, as the languages are linguistically close to Russian.

Examples of russianisms in Ukrainian would be "часи" (časy, "clock") instead of "годинник" (hodynnyk), "ковьор" (kov'or "carpet") instead of "килим" (kylym), "празнувати" (praznuvaty, "to celebrate") instead of "святкувати" (svjatkuvaty), and many others. Examples from Moldavian include "odecolon" and "subotnic".

Use of russianisms results in creation of Russian-Ukrainian or Russian-Belarusian pidgins (called surzhyk and trasianka accordingly).

See also


  1. ^ Nicolai, p. 11.