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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(in language), the reproduction by the phonetic and morphological means of one language of the morphemes, words, and phrases of another language. Vocabulary is more frequently susceptible to borrowing than are the other levels of language.

The causes of the appearance of lexical borrowings in the world’s languages are connected with the borrowing of new objects (traktor, tank, and kombain) or concepts (respublika or ekzamen), with the duplication of words already in the language for the use of international terminology (import and eksport along with Russian vvoz and vyvoz), with the attempt to isolate a certain shade of meaning (shkola and studiia [“school” and “studio,” respectively];prisposobliat’ and aranzhirovat’ [“to adjust” and “to arrange,” respectively]), and with the influence of fashion (viktoriia instead of pobeda [“victory”] and polites instead of vezhlivost’ [“politeness”] in 18th-century Russian). Borrowings are more easily assimilated in spoken language; however, they are frequently subject to distortions and the influence of folk etymology (Russian napWnik from the German Nadfil [“file”]). Literary borrowings are closer to the original both in meaning and in phonic form, but they are less readily assimilated by a language, preserving certain features that are alien to the language’s phonetics and grammar: in Rus-sian dekel’, “tympan” (with a hard d), randevu and kommiunike (“rendezvous” and “communique,” respectively; both indeclinable and not corresponding to the form of the Russian nominative case), and zhiuri, kk jury”(zhiu is an unusual cluster for Russian).

The assimilation of borrowings follows three trends: phonetic, which is the adaptation of the phonic form of the borrowed word to the phonetic norms of the language (Russian dzhaz from the English “jazz” [dzaez]); grammatical, which is the inclusion of a word in the grammatical system of the language (Russian lozung, “slogan” [masculine], from the German die Losung, “watchword” [feminine], according to the norms of Russian); and lexical, which is the inclusion of a word in the system of values (revoliutsiia and sotsializm). According to their degree of assimilation, borrowings range from complete assimilation (in Russian, izba [“hut”] and loshad [“horse”]; in English, “social”) to barbarisms (in Russian, rename (“reputation”]; in English, “tsar” and “samovar”). Phonetics and grammar are more stable and yield less readily to borrowing; however, even here cases are known of the borrowing of the sound [f] by Russian, Lithuanian, and Uzbek, and the carryover of the aspectual differentiations of the verb from Russian to Komi and of the multicase system from the Caucasian languages to Ossetic. A distinction is made between direct borrowings and borrowings through another language. The process of borrowing intensifies under conditions of bilingualism.


Bloomfield, L. lazyk. Moscow, 1968. Chapters 25–27. (Translated from English.)
Evreinova, I. A. “Zaimstvovaniia v russkom iazyke.”Slavia, 1965, no. 3.
Deroy, L. L’Emprunt linguistique. Paris, 1956.
Haugen, E. “The Analysis of Linguistic Borrowing.”Language, 1950, vol. 26, no. 2.
Kurytowicz, I. “Le Mécanisme differenciateur de la langue.” Cahiers Ferdinand de Sa us sure, 1963, no. 20.


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