Book notice: History of Russian Language and its Speakers

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sat Mar 17 14:23:35 UTC 2007

A History of the Russian Language and its Speakers
LINCOM Studies in Slavic Linguistics 26
2007: Lincom GmbH

Author: Ian Press

The history of the emergence of any standard and therefore at least
initially somewhat artificial language is complex, but that of Russian is
perhaps exceptionally so, with argument simmering for many years over the
character, extent and relevance of variation. An attempt is made to
present both the history of the language and of its users, in this way
bringing the whole general picture together. The earliest days, with the
emergence of writing, are explored, after which language use in Rus' is
examined.  Russian from the Mongol Conquest to Muscovy and the social and
linguistic reshapings of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are seen
as creating a base whose stability is worked through over the next few

A standard emerges in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries,
but remains exploratory throughout the nineteenth century, since when we
have the October Revolution and its impact on language, followed by the
current 'liberation' of Russian. The picture is brought to life by the
inclusion of texts, with commentaries, from all periods. The aim is to
provide a clear, readable, and accessible presentation for a wide range of


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