Foreign Words

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Foreign Words


words of foreign origin used in a given language. Depending upon the degree of assimilation into a language, foreign words are divided into borrowed words, exotic words, and barbarisms. Along with the completely assimilated borrowed words, language contains partly adopted words—for example, in Russian silos from the Spanish silos, butsy from the English “boots,” pikirovat’ from the French piquer or the German pikieren, and shorty from the English “shorts.”

Exoticisms and barbarisms have not been assimilated into a language and are not part of its system. They come into use through the necessity of expressing proper names, specific objects, or rituals and serve specific stylistic functions—for example, Dzhordzh (George), lavash (unleavened bread), or shakhsei-vakhsei (a Shiite rite). Internationalisms, words that belong to a common international pool, are also considered foreign words. Such expressions in Russian as terra inkognita, kheppi end, pardon, and radar can be included in this category. A special form is the caique, or semantic borrowing, such as the words vliianie and trogatel’nyi from the French influence and touchant. Bilingualism and intensive cultural contact lead to influxes of foreign words into a language. Excessive and indiscriminate use of foreign words reduces the effectiveness of a language.


Vinogradov, V. V. Ocherki po istorii russkogo literaturnogo iazyka XVII-XIX vv. Moscow, 1938. Pages 51–55, 150–73, 239–44, 342–410.
Bloomfield, L. Iazyk. Moscow, 1968. Pages 487–544. (Translated from English.)
Krysin, L. P. Inoiazychnye slova v sovremennom russkom iazyke. Moscow, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
Foreign words in the text annoyed her and made her bemoan her want of a classical education - she had only attended a Dame's school during some easy months - but she never passed the foreign words by until their meaning was explained to her, and when next she and they met it was as acquaintances, which I think was clever of her.
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You mustn't trifle with it, you know, or it may turn to pneumonia," she would go on, deriving much comfort from the utterance of that foreign word, incomprehensible to others as well as to herself.
She still drops a foreign word into her talk now and then, and there is still a subtle foreign flavor or fragrance about even her exactest English - and long may this abide!
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