Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Soviet Leaders from Stalin to Gorbachev Often Dropped Letter from Abbreviation for Name of Their Country Sending a Message to Their People

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 27 – Soviet language was full of abbreviations, one of the most important of which was USSR (in Russian, SSSR). But few Soviet leaders ever used the whole name, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and many from Stalin to Gorbachev, dropped one of the S’s, calling it the SSR or the Soviet Socialist Republic, Russian Seven notes.

            On the one hand, this reflected the tendency to shorten abbreviations when speaking and the unsuccessful quality of USSR, the portal says. But on the other hand, it reflected the view of the leaders that the country was not a union but rather a single Soviet Socialist Republic (russian7.ru/post/pochemu-vse-sovetskie-vozhdi-delali-o/).

            Stalin reduced SSSR to SSR before World War II but thereafter more often spoke of the Soviet Union. Khrushchev and Brezhnev, Russian Seven says, used SSR most of the time. And Mikhail Gorbachev made this mistake in his last public speech as president when he announced he was leaving the position of head of the SSR.

            This was from the only mistake Soviet leaders made in their public speeches. Stalin frequently made usage mistakes in Russian, no surprise given that Russian was not his native language. Khrushchev’s language was heavily affected by Ukrainian. And Gorbachev got the stress wrong in many cases.

            Brezhnev made fewer mistakes of this kind because he preferred to read from texts rather than speak at large. But his speech patterns became the stuff of Soviet anecdotes because he often seemed to confuse words or meaning, the portal concludes. But the issue of USSR-SSR may be the most important because it downplayed the union character of the state.

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