GENERICO.ruRussia"Parachute" or "parachute"?

“Parachute” or “parachute”?

Museum guest. Photo: RIA Novosti

January 12, 2001 Friday

The State Duma – and not only it – calls for a legislative opposition to the external danger hanging over the Russian language – an unceremonious pressure to him in English, banter, thugs, profanity. This is not a far-fetched danger, which, for example, is well understood by the French, who approved a list of 3500 Americanisms prohibited for use in official documents, in advertising, in the press.

But the danger, it turns out, threatens our language from within. “We need to knock on the doors of the Academy of Sciences, where these idiots sit!” – quotes the words of Tatiana Tolstoy newspaper “Alphabet”. And he comments: “What caused the anger of the famous writer? It turns out that the Russian Academy of Sciences has developed a new “Code of Russian Spelling Rules”: the Spelling Commission of the Academy believes that the old rules are outdated and, moreover, are too difficult to learn. In order not to suffer, we will write, almost as we hear, transfer words as we please, and we will no longer think about exceptions: the parachute will become a “parachute”, the double “n” will disappear as a tribute to ridiculous Soviet traditions, and there are too many commas. strong> Reformers strive for simplicity. Indeed, it is “worse than theft.” , his language.

But before joining the alarm bells, I follow from my student years the learned advice of the doctor of medicine, again a Frenchman, François Rabelais: “Drink from the source!” I go where the fuss comes from – to the Spelling Commission of the Russian Academy of Sciences, to its chairman, a well-known scientist working at the Academic Institute of the Russian Language named after V.V. Vinogradov, editor of the newest and most complete normative Russian Spelling Dictionary.

My interlocutor is Vladimir Lopatin.

Vladimir Vladimirovich! What kind of reform have you started?

Vladimir Lopatin

academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, philologist, linguist

– There is no talk of any reform of the Russian language. It's just about putting in order his “clothes”, about streamlining our spelling in accordance with modern writing practice. After all, since the time of the spelling code adopted in 1956, nothing has changed in the rules. According to those largely ideologized rules, for example, in the names of the highest party and Soviet institutions, all words must be capitalized, and, for example, Christmas or Easter, with lowercase. In a real letter, no one does this anymore.

– But the new spelling also reaches the point of absurdity. I once cited a quote from Mayakovsky: “To the grandmother and to God the mother’s soul”, believing that in the everyday context the capital letter in the word “god” is inappropriate. The proofreader corrected: “God” and “Mother.” I ask: “Well, why is Mother?” Answers: “This is the Mother of God!”

– You were right. But the rules must determine in which cases “God” is written and in which “god”. And they are not there today. And they write as God (in this case, with a lowercase) will put it on the soul.

– Didn't you, scientists, recommend writing “God” and not “God”? Someone gave the command!

– There was no command from our side. Perhaps, somewhere in the then still existing ideological apparatus of the Central Committee of the CPSU there were officials who fixed the changes in the paragraphs of the instructions. But these “revolutionaries” were not us. We are, rather, “conservatives.” also an independent state, and insisted that the standards in the Russian language and writing remain Russian.

Let Estonia write “Tallinn”. We have to write “Tallinn” in our Russian-language editions. Like Paris, not Pari.

– And in the official documents?

– This is a different story. In this case, I am talking about absurd spelling situations associated with the excessive politicization of the current zealous converters and with the ideological prohibitions of the recent past. Well, isn't it absurd when, according to the rules of 1956, you and I have to write “Republic of Hungary”, but “French Republic”? Therefore, it turns out that “republic” should be written with a capital letter only when it comes to union republics and countries of the socialist camp. Neither one nor the other is already gone. But no one has yet legislatively corrected this rule.

In principle, we are talking about adjustments. We are not going to change the basics. The proposed changes concern a very small part of the words and rules. In doing so, we proceed from three positions.

  • First. The rules are the same, but with greater detail, because we were faced with discrepancies that arose as a reaction to the lack of completeness in the normative code of 1956. Much in it is not stated, not fully explained. And this required additional decryptions, which were often born in different scientific teams and even departments. An applicant, for example, writes an introductory essay using one reference book, and a university teacher lowers his grade in accordance with a completely different guide.
  • Second position. Many new phenomena in the language, in particular new words and types of words, terms, foreign language borrowings, await their reflection in the spelling legislation.
  • Third. With an unchanged basis, Russian spelling today requires less rigidity, greater variability.

By the way, the rules of 1956 became a bibliographic rarity, turned into some kind of phantom. Instead, numerous reference books and spelling guides appeared, which actually replaced the text of the rules. Yes, they are more detailed. But they also contain contradictions, discrepancies that need to be eliminated for a long time.

– But why did you remember this only now? An instruction from above about the new millennium?

– We started working on this set about ten years ago. It was already clear then that the 1956 rules needed updating.

– During one of his travels, Swift's Gulliver meets the linguists of the Lagado Academy, who, in order to preserve the lungs, vocal cords and people's health in general, create a project of simplified communication: instead of pronouncing a word, they show the object that it stands for. At the same time, the minimum vocabulary can be carried in a shoulder bag. Of course, this is a simplification of the problem to the point of absurdity. But there are quite a few people among your opponents who are seriously afraid: are you leading the matter to simplifying spelling, to surrender to the onslaught of triumphant market primitivism?

– No and no again. In the small part of the rules where changes are made, in some cases you can see simplification, in others – complication, and sometimes you may not see either one or the other.

For example, the transition of both printing and ordinary writing to computer technology dictates the simplification of the transfer rules. Of course, the rigidity of the old rules has its own logic: they accustom one to linguistic culture, to a sense of the structure of the word. But the fact that today practically no newspaper is able – for technological reasons – to comply with these rules, also has its own logic. Therefore, we here make some indulgences, talking about the desirable and possible transfers. Although the main prohibitions remain.

In some cases, a variety of punctuation marks is suggested. The obligatory colon before the enumeration is increasingly replaced by a dash in real punctuation practice. It is proposed to legitimize this option as well. But this does not mean at all, as one of the newspapers wrote, that we generally replace colons with dashes everywhere.

Another example. How do you write words that begin with “gender”? A hyphen, if there is a vowel or capital letter further, as well as “l”. Continuously – if the consonant: half an orange, half a lemon, but half a mandarin; half-eleven, but half-eleven. And it turns out that the tangerine in reality is much less different from the orange or lemon than in the spelling.

From our point of view, this is an unnecessary complication. And we always suggest writing a hyphen after the “floor”.

We are not aiming to simplify or complicate the spelling. We are organizing it.

– Where, then, is there such an intensity of passions, such tension around your project?

– First of all, the painful overexcitation of society is to blame. It would seem that it is easier to agree with the ironic remark of one of your colleagues: they say, I don't care how they write “parachute” as long as it opens up. But no. With what fury, with what overexposure, intolerance, growing out of ignorance, they pounce on a project that has yet to go through the path of discussion in professional audiences! At the same time, for some reason, analogies are constantly drawn with the “Bolshevik” reform of 1918, to which our proposals have nothing to do.

– Maybe this is not ignorance, but just the now fashionable banter nihilism of half-knowledge? Here is an authoritative publication writes that “the Bolsheviks quickly sent the notorious yati and eras away without the right of correspondence” and “when it turned out that the publishers were printing books and newspapers on the sly, according to the old rules, revolutionary sailors came to the printing house and shook out letters with repressed letters from the typesetting cash registers “. But, as far as I know, the 1918 reform was developed even before the Bolsheviks?

– Yes, this reform – mainly about the composition of letters, graphics – for about 20 years, from the beginning of the XX century, was developed by scientists A. Shakhmatov, F. Fortunatov, I. Baudouin de Courtenay and other world-famous linguists who were part of the Orthographic Commission of the Imperial Academy of Sciences. In 1917, their ideas formed the basis of the Provisional Government's circular on the transition to a new spelling. So the Bolsheviks only stamped the suggestions of scientists concentrated in this document with a decree of the Council of People's Commissars.

Spelling antihistoricism today, with more frequent “excursions” into history, is striking.

Here came the film “The Barber of Siberia”, and there, in the opening credits, they used a supposedly pre-revolutionary spelling. Naturally, they put a solid sign at the end of the noun (this is so fashionable now!). But then and until 1956, the word “barber” was written with “s”, no one knew anymore.

For some reason, many ardent defenders of the virginity of Russian spelling were especially outraged by our proposal to write not “parachute”, but “parachute”. This word is included in the well-known trinity of exceptions: jury, brochure, parachute, which came to us from French. Their spelling with “yu” is determined by the softness of the previous consonant in French. But our “brochure” and “parachute” have long been Russified. Nobody pronounces a soft “w” in them. Which is proposed to legalize in writing. But this does not apply to the word “jury”, and let it be written in the old way.

We are often credited with intentions that were more characteristic of the spelling reform project, published in 1964. That's when the spelling simplification was really programmed. This was the task.

It was suggested, for example, to write: night, mouse, hare, cucumber. Leonid Leonov noted on this occasion: “I will not eat such cucumbers.”

– You say that the spelling project still needs serious approbation. However, many are afraid that, as often happens now, it will very quickly be formalized into a binding law, and the public's point of view will be left aside.

– I am against popular plebiscites on how write the word “parachute”. The fate of the spelling code should be decided by specialists.

First of all, linguists, methodologists and educational workers in general. There will be an opportunity to consult with writers.

The project we propose is the fruit of many years of work. But I cannot say that this is the fruit of like-mindedness. Even in the commission itself there is criticism of the project from both the “left” and “right”. And I cannot be sure that what I have proposed will remain in its final version. Accelerated “pushing” it to the rank of law, ignoring the opinions of experts is simply impossible.

And your is the word as a chairman not decisive? Are you not a dictator?

– Where is there! Not every proposal I make is successful. If there is a dictatorship in our commission, it is more likely a dictatorship of democracy.

– By the way, there is such a point of view: there is no time to engage in spelling wisdom – the people have too many much more painful problems, countries …

– Approximately the same idea was expressed by Alexander Isaevich Solzhenitsyn in a recent letter to the Department of Literature and Language of the Russian Academy of Sciences. I think otherwise. It is one thing to present such an account to such things as the approval of state symbols. Quite another is the normative stability of the native language and its writing.

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