Friday, June 7, 2024

Internet Not Killing Off Dialects within Russian as Many Suppose but Increasing Their Diversity, Moscow Scholar Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 6 – It is widely assumed that the Internet is contributing to the homogenization of languages and killing off both dialects and local variants; but in fact, a Moscow scholar says, a new survey of Russian as spoken in the cities of that country finds that in many places, dialects are unexpectedly expanding.

            Ivan Levan, a specialist at the Moscow Institute of the Russian Language at the Russian Academy of Sciences, says that he and his colleagues have recently found “about 2,000” new words that vary from city to city and were not recorded in V.I. Belikov and V.P. Selegey’s 2005 work on Languages of Russian Cities (

            Such increases in the number of dialect words have occurred even though the Internet has played an increasing role in Russian life over the last two decade, and Levan suggests that it is time to acknowledge this by preparing an updated version of the 2005 book in order to track the development of city-based urban dialects in Russia.

            Levan is far from alone among Russian scholars who insist that Russian as spoken in Russia and elsewhere is one of the most diverse languages in the world – even though the Kremlin continues to speak as if Russian were a unified language and Moscow its definer (

            Such fissiparousness in how Russian is spoken is even more pronounced among Russian speakers in other countries, and scholars there are now pushing for recognition that there are hyphenated Russian languages in many of them and the establishment of national institutes of the Russian language rather than having speakers continue to follow Moscow rules.

            (For a discussion of that broader trend, one that affects people living in all former empires, see the remarks of Tallinn philologist Roman Essen, see reposted at


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