«Und Kaine Ende»: Russian Literary Language Diachronic Stylistics Formation


This paper considers diachronic stylistics of literary language, a new area of scientific research. The knowledge about functional style specifics, national stylistic nuances of linguistic devices used in different speech situations in a certain period shifted from synchrony to diachrony in modern research. To understand the Russian language evolution it is important to consider the ways of literary language development regarding its stylistic means and varieties. Russian worldview dynamics is identified by functional style patterns formation and analysis of particular style’s speech systematicity. Emergence of new written language application fields divided universal liturgical language into formal, scientific, verbal folklore, and other types of languages. Analysis of all-Russian written artefacts from different eras and regional documents reading demonstrate the change of functional stylistic system caused by stylistic devices enrichment and choice of effective expressive means. Substyles, text genres, speech genres are developed, speech devices markedness, typing of form and context of a text within particular style are formed. This concludes that the dynamics of extratextual factors is the main reason for Russian literary language stylistic transformations. Nowadays the evolution of literary style, scientific style presentation as a system with its own linguistic devices is studied actively. Journalistic style characteristics in different historical periods, advertising genres formation and online communication features are studied. Liturgical and colloquial styles evolution issue remains open. Diachronic stylistics’ major problems are Russian language functional style specifics “crystallizing”, combining functional semantic speech types methods, composition improvement, formation choice patterns and language tools disposition within the text.

Keywords: History of Russian literary languagediachronic stylisticsfunctional stylelanguage and speech genres


Researchers have been addressing the issues of historical stylistics for a long time: the description of linguistic artefacts with regard to one of the literary language functional differentiation concepts in a certain period, specific set of text formulas, the Old Russian literary language, imagery analysis. The term “historical stylistics” was introduced by Vinokur (2016) in 1940s, while the term “diachronic stylistics” has been used since the end of 1970s in works by Kozhina, Duskayeva, and Salimovskiy (2018). The work by Yerofeyeva (2018) generalizes the knowledge. Historical stylistics is traditionally considered to be a part of literary language history, not a small part of the linguistic history and within the whole issue, but a new turn, still regarded from historical perspective, but with a shift in it. It is not the “system - style – norm” ratio (as in the history of language), it is not stabilized opposites of style against the background of the system (as in the history of the literary language), but the style as a result of the system development against the background of the neutral norm. The principles of historical (diachronic) stylistics were defined by Vinogradov (1980). Nowadays there are many conclusions based on different genre artefact analyses that need to be combined by making general conclusions about the 21st century Russian literary language style system. Preserving Russian semi-cursive (skoropis’) provincial texts of the 18th century and describing them from philological point of view is very important for researchers. There are unique annual nation-wide projects supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, such as “Text parameterization as the basics for linguistic corpus of 18th-19th century archival records of the Don Cossack Host orderly rooms” by Sheptukhina, (2019). This way Klushina (2016) pays attention to new types of communication and researcher Mirzoyeva (2013) analyses the change of phenomena evaluation approach. This all leads to diachronic stylistics becoming an independent scientific discipline which explores the formation and development of stylistic devices of a language, its functioning patterns in different areas of communication – functional styles, genre and style text variants in the process of its formation and development in different historical periods creating stylistic specifics of a particular style of language and speech.

Problem Statement

The relevance of the work is determined by the expansion of the concept of stylistics as a scientific discipline in historical development. In order to solve important questions about the emergence of functional styles, it is necessary not only to study the history of the literary language, but also individual facts (evaluativity, emotionality, imagery, etc.). The involvement of regional, provincial texts of various genre orientations, many of which have not yet been published and studied, represents a single stylistic picture.

Research Questions

Methodological basis of the research is Russian language analysis from the perspective of systematicity and historism. The evolution of linguistic levels (phonetic, grammatical, lexical), development of new areas of human interests and social relations lead to functional style and substyle changing from synchronic to diachronic. The process of this transformation is endless. Linguistic historiographic and functional stylistic approaches to Russian texts corpus are integrated in the study.

Purpose of the Study

Purpose of the study is to watch the steps of diachronic stylistics formation, a new scientific area in Russian studies by proving that functional system with its stylistic diversity and dynamics of system, genre and stylistic levels was developing in 17th – 18th centuries.

Research Methods

Tasks in hand determined the choice of the following methods and techniques: descriptive, comparative historical in the study of the historical development of the functional styles and genres system in different periods of the existence of the Russian literary language; the method of diachronic comparison in identifying stylistic elements in text from different time periods or other functional style in 11th – 20th centuries; semantic stylistic interpretation of linguistic and speech facts. It is for this set of methods and techniques that systematic diachronic analysis of Russian text corpus in different historical periods can be implemented.


Style is a historical category (Kozhina, 2017). New research papers allow imagining system evolution of Russian literary language style from a different point of view. The opinion of some researchers, such as Krylova (2019) and Itskovich (2016), on separating liturgical religious style in the modern system as independent is proved by historical facts. Religious style has its own stylistic features that are present in practically all Old Russian and modern texts on religious topics. The study of texts proves the existence of their own genres (religious tale, sermon, gospel, patericon, Menology, etc.), a specific audience, goal, task, marked means.

There are three functional styles in 12th – 17th centuries: religious, formal and literary. They are defined by a set of marked stylistic linguistic means and standard text forms. Vinogradov (1982) distinguished between the concepts of language styles and speech styles and considered it unlawful to use the term concept “style” as applied to the pre-national period of the Russian literary language, suggesting the use of the term “type of speech” (p. 56). The complexity of stylistic research is that the norm, the farther from us in time, the more indefinite in outline. In the Middle Ages, in essence, the style is a stamp, which but the tradition is unchanged. The complexity of the historical study of stylistics lies in the fact that at some stages of development stylistic options did not come from the language system, but penetrated from the outside - through exemplary, usually translated texts.

In the 17th century the era of national language and genre and style system unifying begins. In the 18th century, there are “profound changes in Russian linguistic situation which concern all the Russian language levels and all its areas of functioning” (Zhivov, 1996, p. 201). During this historical period, there is a change in all styles of the common language, dictated by the preservation of the official letters traditions and the implementation of literary elements as style forming means. It is Russian formal language, official formal style that acts as a catalyst for strengthening this process. Thus, development of science, the desire to be integrated into a single international unified scientific speech contributed the formation of a scientific functional style. Appearance of calendars, newspapers, magazines, reference books and specific genres of journalism in the country in Russian language contributed to the journalistic style. In stylistic analysis, the question is not to determine whether a particular phenomenon of language is figurative, metaphorical, or poetic, but how it is used within a particular genre and how it corresponds to it. The number, regularity, and frequency of using the same or functionally similar language forms is one of the essential components of stylistics. The repeatability of certain positions in the text, the repeatability of the same type of filling these positions with the same and similar forms – a prerequisite that generates the style and specialization of language tools. Therefore, stylistic means become a natural basis for historical linguistics – that part of it that is designed to deal with the Genesis and history of stylistic means of language at the level of phonetics, morphology, vocabulary, word formation, syntax, tropics, etc.

Since 1850s the sources of national literary language start expanding. Speech devices actively appear from everyday language, formal writing and alien, foreign languages. According to observations made by Vinokur (2016), during this period, which was dominating for a few centuries, secular literature, comprised of literary, journalistic, scientific styles, takes place of liturgical religious style. Colloquial codified style appears only in the 18th century, in spite of oral speech being primary if compared to the written speech.

A set of extratextual style-forming factors influences the formation and development of functional styles, substyles with its genre system. Area of activity with its impact on social consciousness the dictum of new communication type determine standard goals and tasks, the need for speech form to be recognizable, standard for style, language and speech. Diachronic stylistics emphasizes text (logic) – genre (imagery) – style (emotional disposition, markedness, evaluativity).

The analysis of interaction stages between elements of colloquial speech and literary language in different substyles remains promising. Thus, political discourse with its genre field and stylistic features is formed in the beginning of the 20th century. For example, Rogozhnikova (2019) considers historical political texts from the beginning of the 20th century and draws some interesting conclusions. The inclusion of different styles and genres makes presentation of the Russian functional styles history possible and gives the sense of comparative style research by studying various artefacts.

Diachronic stylistics research demonstrates the role of extratextual factors dynamics as the basis for stylistic transformations, influence of Russian mentality change and axiology on linguistic style, speech and author.

Thus, we believe that since the advertisement genres are used in different communication areas, the separation of advertisement into an independent functional style is not yet completed. A specific speech situation determines the selection of language devices, and here we have not style, but a form of speech. On the contrary other researchers emphasize that advertisement has already become an independent functional style in the 21st century. Syncretic character and mimicry of advertisement style of a language evokes new scientific problems related to a modern person’s speech practice, like Kara-Murza (2016) studies the subject of linguistic examination.


The emergence of new written language application fields divided universal liturgical language into business, scientific, verbal folklore and other types of languages. Diachronic stylistics as an independent field of knowledge explores such problems as the formation of vivid stylistic features of the Russian language functional styles, ways of combining functional semantic types of speech, ways to improve composition, establishing patterns of choice and disposition of language tools within the text. The diachronic and synchronous state of the literary language is closely interconnected and form a single stylistic system. This eternal movement without end is “und kain Ende” (Trubachev, 1994, p. 26), a change of synchrony to diachrony, a reflection of the evolutionary process as a result.


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03 August 2020

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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, translation, interpretation

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Mironova, A. (2020). «Und Kaine Ende»: Russian Literary Language Diachronic Stylistics Formation. In N. L. Amiryanovna (Ed.), Word, Utterance, Text: Cognitive, Pragmatic and Cultural Aspects, vol 86. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 962-966). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2020.08.112