ISSN: 2306-5737E-ISSN: 2658-4069
Acta Linguistica Petropolitana
Transactions of the Institute for Linguistic Studies
ISSN: 2306-5737E-ISSN: 2658-4069
Acta Linguistica Petropolitana
Transactions of the Institute for Linguistic Studies 

The Russian word договор (dogovor) and its synonyms as used in the Petrine Vedomosti of 1703–1719

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Istratiy V. V. Slovo dogovor i yego sinonimy v petrovskikh «Vedomostyakh» 1703–1719 gg.. Acta Linguistica Petropolitana. 2022. 18(2): 11–38.

The paper addresses the usage of new loanwords and their original Russian synonyms in the 1703–1719 issues of Vedomosti, Russia’s first newspaper. Traditionally, a large number of loanwords have been described among the most characteristic features of Russian in the Petrine era. The loanwords typically performed two functions: a nominative one involved with introduction of new concepts by into the Russian language, and a cultural /  educational function, with the new words standing behind novel cultural perceptions. While the actual story of each loan is fairly complicated and usually deals with a combination of both functions, an ideal picture would be for every new “nominative” loan to have no synonym /  cousin in Russian and for every new “cultural” loan, on the contrary, to have a corresponding Russian counterpart that would be, however, treated as less preferable /  less compatible with the European culture. This paper explores the behavior of the polysemous word договор (dogovor) and its four new-loan synonyms with different meanings: аккорд (accord) ‘a military treaty on surrendering a city /  fortress’, капитуляция (kapituliatsiya) ‘military capitulation’, негоциация (negotsiatsiya) ‘diplomatic negotiations’, and трактат (traktat) ‘diplomatic treaty’. Since the word договор could express all these four meanings in the 17th century Russian, we have here a potential “cultural” loanword case. The paper focuses on the coexistence of the new loanwords with their native Russian counterparts and on its specific features. Our analysis reveals a gradual increase in the occurrence of the new loanwords during the period addressed parallel to displacement of the native synonym. While hardly semantically unique, the new words definitely showed a stronger terminological potential given their simple semantic structure (a single specific meaning without other connotations) and an isolated position within the host lexical system. Thus, one can attribute the increase in the occurrence of the new loanwords not only to their “cultural” function, but also to the needs of the new Russian military and diplomatic terminological systems. This conclusion can be confirmed by the subsequent history of all the words addressed: the word договор has lost all its specific meanings discussed above, while the four loanwords have enjoyed rather a long history in Russian, with one of them, капитуляция ‘capitulation’, still in active use today.

Russian language, history of Standard Russian, the Petrine era, historical lexicology, Vedomosti, loan words, synonyms
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Russian language, history of Standard Russian, the Petrine era, historical lexicology, Vedomosti, loan words, synonyms
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