Academic journal article Journal of Slavic Linguistics

Ingunn Lunde and Martin Paulsen, Eds.: From Poets to Padonki: Linguistic Authority and Norm Negotiation in Modern Russian Culture

Academic journal article Journal of Slavic Linguistics

Ingunn Lunde and Martin Paulsen, Eds.: From Poets to Padonki: Linguistic Authority and Norm Negotiation in Modern Russian Culture

Article excerpt

Ingunn Lunde and Martin Paulsen, eds. From poets to padonki: Linguistic authority and norm negotiation in modern Russian culture. Bergen: University of Bergen, 2009. [Slavica Bergensia, 9.]

The issues discussed in From poets to padonki became a part of my life in 1999 when I began my university studies and using Russian and Estonian became my everyday reality. Choosing different languages for different purposes, code-switching, and multilingual language play have all been part of my daily language use for the last eleven years. This collection challenges definitions of what can be meant by "language", "standard" language, and the linguistic "norm". It acquaints readers with a wide range of linguistic phenomena in modern Russian culture. Padonki refers to a subculture within the Russian-speaking Internet (Runet), whose representatives use erratic spellings for words, aiming at creating a comic effect. Their nickname padonki itself illustrates such a trend--it is an alteration of podonki 'dregs'. Padonki is also characterized by gratuitous use of profanity and a penchant for obscene subjects.

During the last decade, a body of literature has emerged proposing that (socio)linguists direct their attention away from the traditional focus of linguistics, i.e., language as a bounded system, towards broader semiotic resources, to see what is really going on when people use "language" (Stroud 2003, Jacquemet 2005, Shohamy 2006, Makoni and Pennycook 2007, Blommaert 2010). The notion of "language" becomes especially questionable in cases of (multilingual) computer-mediated communication. The last decade has also witnessed rising scholarly interest in language on and of the Internet in general and in e-mails and postings on Internet discussion forums or message boards in particular (e.g., Koutsogiannis and Mitsikopoulou 2003, Palfreyman and al Khalil 2003, Hinrichs 2006, Dorleijn and Nortier 2009, Androutsopoulos 2006, 2009). Garda (2009: 32) instead of "language" offers a more suitable term for the multiple discursive practices--languaging, i.e., "social practices that are actions performed by our meaning-making selves." For her, dialects, pidgins, creoles, and academic language are all examples of languaging, as there are differences between language practices at home, in communities, and in academic contexts. I would argue that standard languages are idealized constructs, and none can remain unaffected by language contacts during its entire history. While studying language use by individuals, it is important to shift "from focus on structure to focus on function--from focus on linguistic form in isolation to linguistic form in human context" (Hymes 1974: 77). The volume under review offers fascinating reading for (socio)linguists, who work with different manifestations of real language practices rather than seeking for linguistic norm descriptions. Comprising 17 contributions written in English and Russian, the book summarizes analyses of the norm in modern Russian language culture based on data from multiple sources: "literary fiction, Internet slang, literary criticism and aesthetics, writers' blogs, linguistic play, and various arenas for 'talk about talk,' such as the classroom, blogs, the media, the courtroom, etc." (11).

The book opens with Ingunn Lunde and Martin Paulsen's excellent general introduction, an insightful synthesis of how various approaches to the standard Russian language, its norms, and linguistic standards see the history, development, and future of the Russian language culture.

The first paper, "Living norms" by Henning Andersen, gives a comprehensive overview of the history and development of the notion of language norms. Andersen reviews historical contributions to the understanding of norms. Making a distinction between declarative and deontic norms and dividing them further into explicit and implicit norms, he highlights the leading ideas in the field of (socio)linguistic studies that concern the position of norms. …

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