Question about Russian as the state language of Russia

Wolfgang Schulze W.Schulze at
Thu Mar 17 10:45:38 UTC 2011

Dear John,
for sake of simplicity, let me quote from Wikipedia that has the basic 
information (

"In Russia, Church Slavonic - which evolved from Old Church Slavonic - 
remained the literary language until the Petrine age (1682-1725), when 
its usage shrank drastically to biblical and liturgical texts. Legal 
acts and private letters had been, however, already written in 
pre-Petrine Muscovy in a less formal language, more closely reflecting 
spoken Russian. The first grammar of the Russian language was written by 
Vasily Adodurov in the 1740s, and a more influential one by Mikhail 
Lomonosov in 1755."

It goes on saying:

"After the disestablishment of the "Tartar yoke" (...) in the late 14th 
century, both the political centre and the predominant dialect in 
European Russia came to be based in Moscow. A scientific consensus 
exists that Russian and Ruthenian (the predecessor of Belarusian and 
Ukrainian) had definitely become distinct by this time at the latest 
(according to some linguists and historians, even earlier). The official 
language in Russia remained a kind of Church Slavonic until the close of 
the 18th century, but, despite attempts at standardization, as by 
Meletius Smotrytsky c. 1620, its purity was by then strongly compromised 
by an incipient secular literature".

"At the same time [starting with the political reforms by Peter the 
Great, W.S.], there began explicit attempts to fashion a modern literary 
language as a compromise between Church Slavonic, the native vernacular, 
and the style of Western Europe. (...). During the 19th century, the 
standard language assumed its modern form."

Naturally, there are much elaborated treatments available, but according 
to my knowledge, these quotes go into the right direction (leaving 
enough space for sometimes heated debates among Slavicists)....

Best wishes,

Am 17.03.2011 11:16, schrieb john at
> Dear Funknetters,
> I know this isn't a normal question for Funknet but...Do any of you know
> when Russian became the state language of Russia, replacing Church Slavonic?
> For some reason I seem to be having trouble finding out this information.
> Thanks,
> John
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
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*Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulze *


Institut fu"r Allgemeine & Typologische Sprachwissenschaft

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