The Impact of the Internet on the Russian Language

Person of the 21st century: who he/she is and how communication happens? A person of the 21st century spends much time surfing on the Internet. Nowadays the Internet is a communicative platform where a person can freely talk, actively expresses his/her point of view, discusses, establishes relationships, gets acquainted, shares news, and keeps blogs.

The influence of the Internet and digital technologies has had a significant impact on the language, and in particular at the lexical level. The lexical system of any language is the most dynamically developing, and also the most susceptible to changes caused by extralinguistic factors. There are new words and / or new meanings of words; there is a change in the frequency of compatibility and associative connections. “To google” became an international word; each country is developing its own internet slang. Nowadays, the Internet is a hub of neologisms, for example, chat, online, offline, blog and so on. They came to Russian mainly from English.

Sometimes understanding of such words is extremely difficult, first, because of distortion during transliteration or tracing, and secondly, due to the fact that common words offer up new meanings or change them in the Russian interpretation. Transliteration or tracing examples can be “фандрайзинг” from English word “fundraising”, “краудсорсинг” – “crowd sourcing” and “девелопер” – “developer”.

Such words as ”профиль/profile”, ”фотоальбом/photo album”, ”дневник/diary”, ”мышь/мышка – mouse”, and so on were the subject of rethinking.  The word “менеджер” is a vivid example to describe expanding the definition of existing words. When the word came into the Russian language, it meant the person occupying the highest leading position. Over time, less prestigious works received it in the title, in order to increase their rankings on the labor market and the importance of the individual engaged in this work.

Another interesting change happened with the word ”аватар/avatar”. Now it is associated with a picture that is placed next to the name of a user to identify him/her in the social network, forum or online diary. The meaning of the word is known to the younger generation, but few know its origin and primary meaning. So, initially the avatar is the term used in Indian mythology to denote a person who is considered the embodiment or personification of the Divine. Thus, in the modern Internet space, a ”аватар/avatar” means a symbolic designation of a person, who expresses him/herself more clearly and shows certain character qualities.

People, who began using e-mail, and later instant messaging, found it efficient to invent a whole new world of acronyms. It spreads wildfire across the Internet. Ordinary words have transformed into acronyms in the messages of young people, for example, ‘спс’ – спасибо, ‘норм’ – нормально and so on. Such kind of transformation has happened due to the change of life pace and rhythms, a change in the psychological sense of time; hence the consequence is the desire for brevity, capacity, and informative phrases with a minimum of costs.

The Internet has only existed for a short period of time, but it’s already had a huge effect on the way people communicate. Analyzing the speech of young and middle generations it can be concluded that narrowly specialized words were rethought and their meanings were expanded as well. The origin of words or primary meaning was replaced by a new one that arose from the impact of digital technology. It seems likely that the Internet will continue influencing the way we talk as long as it’s an important part of society. It’s also possible that a new technology will come along and replace the Internet, and acronyms such as ‘спс’ will seem like archaisms to our next generation. Currently vocabulary internationalization in the lexical system of any language is observed that increases successful communication development among different cultures.

Senior lecturer Natalia Bagrova
Language Centre Saimaa UAS

Associate Professor, Candidate of Philological Science Anna Khrunenkova
Saint-Petersburg State University

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