Popular Language

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Popular Language


words, expressions, types of word-formation and inflection, and features of pronunciation marked to some extent by simplification, low style, or coarseness. Examples include bashka (”noggin”), kishka tonka (”[someone] doesn’t have the guts”), bech’ instead of bezhat’ (”to run”), vcheras’ instead of vchera (”yesterday”), and mólodezh’ instead of molodë́zh’ (”young people”). Popular language is characterized by vivid expressiveness and a low stylistic level; its elements are close to the conversational elements of literary speech and to dialectisms, argot expressions, and vulgarisms. The composition and boundaries of popular language change in the course of a language’s history.

In Western European linguistics, the term “popular language” (in German, Volkssprache) denotes the conglomerate of deviations from the standard language, such as slang expressions, fad phrases, and nicknames. The stylistic coloration of popular language makes it a means of expressiveness in literature and the commonly used literary language.


Sorokin, Iu. S. “‘Prostorechie’ kak termin stilistiki.” In the collection Doklady i soobshcheniia filologicheskogo in-ta LGU, fasc. 1,1949.
Khomiakov, V. A. Vvedenie v izuchenie slenga—osnovnogo komponenta angliiskogo prostorechiia. Vologda, 1971. (With bibliography.)
Filin, F. P. “O strukture sovremennogo russkogo literaturnogo iazyka.” Voprosy iazykoznaniia, 1973, no. 2.
Kniaz’kova, G. P. Russkoe prostorechie vtoroi poloviny XVIII v. Leningrad, 1974.
Partridge, E. A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, vols. 1–2. London, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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