The Relevant Problems Of Russian Lexicology: The Motorsport Corporate Sublanguage


One of the modern aspects of language studies is directly related to socially-oriented communication in the field of sports; it is dedicated to studying the lexical (including terminological) system that operates in this sphere. The article deals with current problems of Russian lexicology in terms of describing the structure of grouping the units of motorsport sublanguage in accordance with the ontological criterion. The authors consider that these problems give an idea of the formation of units used in the field of sports. Linguists regard several issues of the improvement and replenishment of corporate sublanguage, in order to regulate the language elements of the scientific and technical fields, as well as to include new terminological units of a regulatory nature in the nomination process. They pay particular attention to describing the process of specialization of the motorsport corporate sublanguage units that occur during the formation of such vocabulary and terminology. Moreover, it was determined that the Russian motorsports corporate sublanguage equally includes borrowings from international auto racing terminology, as well as proper Russian units, which increases the uniqueness of the language subsystem under consideration. The article particularly analyses the units with a transitional status, such as: paddock, race car, pilot, etc. These examples illustrate the existing problem of assigning borrowed vocabulary either to terminology or to professional jargon. The conclusion points out that lexemes without any equivalents in Russian motorsport corporate sublanguage will definitely have terminological status.

Keywords: Corporate sublanguages, doublet termsmotorsports sublanguage,  slang wordssports vocabulary,  terminology 


One of the modern aspects of language studies is directly related to socially-oriented communication in the field of sports, it is also dedicated to the study of the lexical (including terminological) system that operates in this sphere. The scientific literature defines this phenomenon as “corporate sublanguage” (CS) and means “... a speech of representatives of various professional groups, ...a speech in both formal and informal communication” (Odinokova, 2004, p. 5).

This work studies the specific structure of the motorsport corporate sublanguage (MCS) in its lexical and terminological visualization. Linguists regard several issues of the improvement and replenishment of corporate sublanguage, in order to regulate the language elements of the scientific and technical fields, as well as to include new terminological units of a regulatory nature in the nomination process.

Problem Statement

The research is theoretically and methodologically based on the works which study general terminological problems and terminological processes (Averbukh, 1986; Golovanova, 2008; Grinev, 1993; Danilenko, 2007; Golanova & Kapanadze, 1982; Kobrin, 1981; Lejchik, 1986; Lotte, 1982; Superanskaya, Podol'skaya, & Vasil'eva, 1989, etc.), the study of the language of special areas and corporate cultures (Elistratov, 2005; Shkatova, 2008; Golovanova, 2012), private research in corporate vocabulary sphere (Dyatko & Kayumova, 2015).

The MCS researchers faced an urgent need to study its structure at the level of its lexical and terminological systems, as well as the mechanism of language representation of texts in the media and particularly in the sports television commentary.

The study suggests that various shifts and transformations in the social sphere, as well as the emergence of innovative means of communication, result in new branches of human activity, including corporate sublanguages operating in these environments, where MCS requires special linguistic attention, since the achievements of motorsport have forced native speakers of the Russian language to seek new language means of expressing some relations in this field.

Research Questions

The object of the study is the motorsport corporate sublanguage in the Russian language.

The subject of the study is sports vocabulary, which includes terms, professionalisms, slang words and other units, which allowed us to distinguish the category “vocabulary and terminology” in the title of the work.

Purpose of the Study

The article aims at:

  • determining the place and describing the composition of the MCS stylistic groups;

  • describing the processes of specialization of MCS units that occur when the indicated vocabulary and terminology are formed.

Research Methods

The main method is descriptive one; it is implemented in the methods of collecting, systematizing, generalizing and interpreting language material. When developing the practical part of the work, the expert assessment method was applied; it was expressed in the form of consultation with specialists in the studied subject area. An analysis of the structure of terminology by categorization levels is aimed at describing the semantics of lexical (terminological) units; statistical analysis was performed in order to estimate the amount of MCS vocabulary in sport reports.


The origin of auto racing vocabulary (both in the whole world and in Russia) dates back to the 80-90s of the XIX century. Today, according to the database we have collected, MCS vocabulary totals 946 units and includes terminological and non-terminological lexics.

According to the data presented in special directories and online dictionaries, we have noted 615 units, which are classified as motorsport terms. For previously uncodified units found in oral texts, we set the values ourselves.

The motor racing term system should be described through the logical structure of terminological subsystems, which are formed on the basis of the relationship of objects, phenomena and categories of automotive industry and auto racing as a purely sports component. Terminological subsystems consist of microsystems of terms that are organized in a hierarchical order, which is a reflection of the MCS system of concepts.

The motor sport archisema is central, as it endues the entire term system and finds its place in the definition of each term included in the system. In the terminological system of the concept of motor sport , we have identified the following main microsystems (subsystems of level 1): “Internal organization of the competition”, “External organization of the competition”, “Near-sports sphere”. The latter also includes terms that are not related to the first two microsystems.

The “External organization of the competition” microsystem distinguishes the second-level subsystems “Inventory”, “Car” and “Infrastructure”.

Let us consider the structural features of the terminological system using the example of the last of the listed subsystems.

The basic term car is a hyperonym and a holonym for the terms of the following subsystems: “Types of cars participating in competitions”, “Components of a car”, “Types of car settings”, “Types of car damage”.

The terminological unit automobile (from ancient Greek Αὐτο – by oneself and Latin mobilis - moving) in the term system under consideration is used to mean a land vehicle moving with at least four wheels not located on the same line with constant contact with the earth’s surface, of which at least two are used to control traffic, and at least two are leading (FIA, 2014).

Subsystem of the third level “Types of cars participating in competitions”.

The term automobile forms its own terminological subsystem in which its hyponyms are classified according to several criteria:

  • By the number of seats. There are cars with one seat and with two seats.

  • By type of drive: all-wheel drive and not all-wheel drive.

  • According to the number of units of one model produced: production cars (including racing cars made on the basis of production ones), sports cars and special cars.

Production cars are modernized in accordance with the requirements of various racing series, therefore, these cars do not have a special designation in the framework of the automatic transmission. The only exception is the North American NASCAR series, where this class of cars is referred to as “Grand National” or stock cars.

Sports cars include:

  • production sports cars:

    • factory-made - sports cars focused on the consumer market, for example: showroom stock according to SCCA classification (English Sports Car Club of America);

    • home-made - kitkars;

  • sports racing cars, for example, a Group 5 car according to the FIA ​​classification, Camel GT according to the IMSA classification (International Motor Sports Association), or Trans-Am according to SCCA classification, looking similar to production sports cars, but having racing technical" stuffing ". This also includes all types of rally cars, which, in particular, for use on various types of road surfaces are divided into an asphalt car (doublet - asphalt machine), gravel car (doublet - gravel machine).

The subsystem "Special Cars" includes three groups: racing, record-racing and record-breaking. The term racing car is the first Russian designation of a vehicle intended for competition. Since Soviet times, this term has been contrasted with the terms record-racing car and record-breaking car , which are used to refer to vehicles designed to set new high-speed records. Examples of record racing cars are dragsters - cars for sports competitions on the line. Hyponyms for the term dragster are “ Funny car ” - a dragster with a shortened wheelbase and “ Pro Stock ” - a production dragster.

By type of body racing cars are divided into Open Wheelers and closed - body cars .

Open-wheel racing cars have several classes: “ Formula ”, “ Indy ”, or “ Championship ”; " Sprint "; Kart , or Go-kart .

All of the above types of sports-type cars, as well as production cars, are closed-body cars. Among racing cars, one can note those that are designed to participate in long competitions, for example, sport prototypes or simply called prototypes in the English tradition.

Terms that allow you to distinguish the types of cars according to their function in motorsport competitions are also included in the system. In particular, according to the frequency of operation during the competition, we distinguish a combat vehicle and a spare (or reserve) vehicle .

There are terms that designate the types of cars that perform administrative functions in competitions: a safety car (also has such doublet as pace car ) - for open-wheel racing; familiarization car, opening car, closing car - for rally competitions.

Subsystem of the third level "Components of a racing car."

The main meronyms (names of the components) of the term racing car are implemented in the subsystems of the terms chassis, engine, controls, wheels / tires and aerodynamic elements .

Within the fourth-level subsystem of the term chassis we contrast the terms chassis of own production and client chassis according to the criterion of the participation of the team in the car creation. This subsystem forms two subsystems of the fifth level of the terms engine and underchassis .

The fifth-level subsystem of the term engine includes the nuclear term engine itself, which enters into syntagmatic relations with terms indicating phenomena and categories (operating modes, types of settings, etc.) associated with the engine: multi-21, exhaust manifolds, cartography engine, torque, horsepower, or hp, revolutions, ignition, engine displacement or displacement (the latter is the non-recommended name for the total engine displacement).

This subsystem also includes meronyms: air filter, engine protection, crankshaft, supercharger, speed limiter, or limiter, piston, restrictor, turbocharger, cylinder, connecting rod .

The fifth-level subsystem of the term running gear : ERS ( energy recovery systems ) (hyponym of the 2nd level - KERS (kinetic energy recovery systems)), damper (hyponym of the 2nd level - rear damper, mass damper, reactive damper ), differential (hyponym of the 2nd level - active differential ), wheelbase, wheel caps, axle (the hyponyms of the 2nd level - front axle, rear axle), suspension (hyponym of the 2nd level - front suspension, rear suspension, pulling suspension, or pull rod, pushing suspension, or push rod, active suspension, passive suspension ).

The same system, formed by the term chassis , includes ballast .

Let us return to the consideration of subsystems of the fourth level. In one of them, the term controls is the main one and contains the following units in its microsystem: accelerator, dashboard, steering gear (meronyms of the 2nd level - steering wheel, traction ; the last term has a hyponym - traction control ).

The subsystem of the fourth level of the term body includes the names of types: coupe, hatchback, sedan, station wagon, combi, convertible, limousine, SUV, pickup; and meronyms - air intake (the hyponym of the 2nd level - pontoon or side air intake, upper air intake ) monocoque, torpedo body , slide board, plank, safety bar, cockpit, window net, headrest . The subsystem also includes the term update (the hyponym of the 2nd level - update package ).

The “Material” group included in the microsystem includes the terms: carbon fiber, composite materials .

In this subsystem, one of the most significant subsystems for motor sport vocabulary, located at the fifth level: “ aerodynamic elements ” is highlighted. The term doublet, which served as the name for this subsystem, is the term aerodynamic body kit . The subsystem itself includes hyponyms : a wing (hyponyms of the 2nd level - the front wing, rear wing, the middle wing ; hyponyms of the 3rd level - the controlled front wing, the guided rear wing or DRS (drag reduction system)), air duct (the hyponym of the 2nd level - DRS duct ), deflector, diffuser (hyponyms of the 2nd level - blowing diffuser, double diffuser), keel, fairing, spoiler (hyponyms of the 2nd level - front spoiler, rear spoiler).

The fourth-level subsystem of the term “Systems” includes the names of systems and their components: antilag, brake system (meronyms of the 2nd level - brake disc, brake caliper ); fuel system (hyponym of the 2nd level - launch control ), exhaust system (hyponym of the 2nd level - exhaust system with the Coanda effect), cooling system: (meronym of the 2nd level is a radiator , has a hyponym - cross-flow type radiator), traction control . Separately, the term electronic control unit or ECU stands out in this group, since the device designated by it regulates the operation of a number of different vehicle systems.

Subsystem of the third level "Types of settings and car behavior."

This subsystem includes the terms: settings (hyponym of the 2nd level - rain settings, dry settings), gravel settings, brake balance, ground clearance, gear ratios, understeer (hyponym of the 2nd level - oversteer (averstyr), understeer (underster), neutral understeer), handling . This also includes the disruption of the rear axle mentioned above, the disruption of the front axle .

Subsystem of the third level “Types of car damage”.

The “Names of car accidents and damage” group contains the terms: mechanical problems, imbalance, descent . Steady turns can also be formed according to the scheme: damage + name of the element or system of the car or failure + name of the element or system of the car .

It should be noted that motorsport terms enter in all kinds of system relationships - horizontal, vertical, diagonal, logical intersection, etc. This characterizes the integrity and viability of the term system.

Due to the increased activity of intercultural contacts in the sports sector, the influence of artificial factors on the development of the Russian motorsport term system has increased. Two situations arise: in the first case, the process of standardization of terms occurs earlier than the fixing of the term system in oral communication. In the second case, after the fixation occurred at the stage of formation of the term system, the term is still used less frequently due to the appearance of a doublet, most often borrowed from another language. Based on the observation of the motor sport term system in Russian, it can be noted that with constant involvement in the international environment in the speaker’s mind, changes occur in the perception of foreign doublet words. For example, a shakedown is increasingly losing its jargon and is perceived by many as a term, and the expression tests on a straight line is perceived as a colloquial reduced unit. The process of artificial normalization takes place, when the term is given "legitimacy", but cases of its use are isolated. In relation to motorsport, this is manifested in the official terminology of the FIA, translated into Russian, and the technical documentation of the RAF. So, in Russian terminology, the terms are fixed (the number in brackets is the number of units of texts containing this token in the Yandex, a Russian Internet searching service) acceleration races (1 000), control races (5 000) , a record-racing car (684), a penalty stop (510), a penalty drive (2,000), a land effect (564), for which drag racing (179,000), respectively, turned out to be more synonymous today; qualifications (534,000); dragster (125,000); stop and go (3,000); pit lane travel (9,000); ground effect (4000).

The term paddock is mentioned in RAF documentation, but along with the term parking. Paddock moved to the international MCS vocabulary from the field of equestrian sports, where he designated a fenced with a canopy adjacent to the stable or an open area intended for keeping horses on the street.

The reverse process also takes place, in which the term enshrined in the documentation is replaced by another commonly used word, but at the same time it does not go out of use, but passes into the category of commonly used words. So, the term racing car is increasingly being replaced by the term bolide , which in this sense began to be used in Russian, the term race car is fixed in English. The terminological status of the word bolide is fixed in dictionary editions, but this MCS unit nevertheless retains signs of professional jargon, since the English language has the synonymous terms Open Wheeler, Single Seater and Formula, the last of which is enshrined in the Russian technical documentation in the Cyrillic version - the formula .

The term driver was used in the USSR until the 50s. of the XX century in low-speed road races, but, due to the increase in speeds and under the influence of the term race , the main name of the athlete has become the term racer (in relation to motorsport, the full form is a race driver , because in this case there is a differentiation in relation to the terms motorcycle racer and cyclist ) In the 90s. of the XX century the term pilot was updated, which passed from the terminology of several Roman-speaking European countries: French pilote de course , Italian pilota , Spanish piloto de carreras , Portuguese piloto de corrida . It is interesting that the tracing mechanism in this case could not be implemented, since the aviator's existing borrowing went into the passive reserve, and the pilot's lexeme proposed by V. Khlebnikov is mainly related to military aviation. The term pilot , operating in the field of civil aviation, originally in Italian denoted a pilot, and later, in a general sense - a person who controls a vehicle. In Roman languages, the pilot thanks to a metaphorical comparison of an airplane and a racing car began to refer to the person who controls the car. At the moment, the term remains relevant in the international MCS and in near-sporting circles.

The given examples clearly illustrate the existing problem of assigning borrowed vocabulary to terminology or professional jargon. Terms that do not have equivalents in the Russian MCS will definitely have terminological status. Internationalism terms that refer to concepts already denoted by terms in the Russian language should be considered doublets, all other borrowings in this case should be attributed to jargon.

Professional jargon in the scientific literature is most often divided into two groups: vocabulary that relates directly to the professional activities of the studied social group, and vocabulary that does not have a connection with it. On this basis, fans' jargon is opposed to the jargon of participants in circuit races (Formula 1 and kart jargon also stand out), rally.

All classes of the Russian automatic transmission are dynamic, and new technical solutions and changes in sports regulations will lead to the emergence of new units. Therefore, it is safe to predict the replenishment of these classes and their development in the future.

MCS is formed under the influence of external non-linguistic factors and internal linguistic processes. Of the external factors, the most significant are historical, technical, sports, legal and economic, of the intralinguistic ones, the processes of internal and external borrowing, as well as the specialization of common words.

Through internal borrowing in the domestic MCS, common words of the Russian language and lexemes of 15 areas of human activity and 11 terminology systems appeared. This is a consequence of the fact that motorsport is not only a purely sporting phenomenon, but also a scientific, technical, legal, and social one. All these principles determine the active process of trans-terminizing and borrowing of jargon in the sublanguage.

External borrowing. From our point of view, it seems logical to separate the borrowings directly included in the MCS (banking, superspecial, etc.) from those terms that functioned in the language and only then were specialized ( attack, line, strategy , etc.) . This separation is necessary to consider borrowing as a tool for the formation of the CP, and not a purely linguistic process. Based on this, speaking of borrowings, we will mean the first group of units.

The leading trend in the development of Russian sports linguistic culture is the enrichment of terminology through the borrowing of English words, because English is the base language for international sports terminology in general and auto racing in particular. The borrowed units of the Russian MCS are divided into categories that can be represented in the form of a scale: literal borrowings that have not undergone graphic changes; literal borrowings adapted to the Russian language system; half-pebbles and tracing motorsports terms.

The first group of units is the words used by native speakers of the Russian language without graphic processing (total 33 units, 6.62% of the total number of borrowings). This includes, first of all, abbreviations for the names of organizations associated with motorsport: FOM ( Formula One Management ) - a company that owns the commercial rights of Formula 1; FOCA ( Formula One Constructors Association ) - the association of "Formula 1" designers, the predecessor of FOM; FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile ) - International Automobile Federation and others; and abbreviations: DRS (drag reduction system) - controlled rear wing; ECU (electronic control unit); HANS (head and neck support device ) - neck and head protection system; ERS (energy recovery systems ), etc. Also this group includes special designations of national colors of racing cars in England, British Racing Green - green, Italy, Rosso corsa - red, USA - Cunningham racing stripes - white with blue stripes or blue with white stripes, etc.

  Some of the English jargonisms that function in the Formula-1 environment and are almost never used in the Russian MCS remain without translation: flick or flip - an aerodynamic element mounted on the side air intake; toe shims - washers used for changing toe, i.e. to adjust the angles of the front wheels; yump (from the English jump - “jump”) - the method of driving the Finnish racer M. Hakkinnen on the curbs of Monza, a race track in Italy, etc.

Most of the English motorsport neologisms (206 units or 41.37%) are literal borrowings (and have undergone grammatical changes, and adapted). They include:

  • terms: apex, boxes, warm-up, ground effect, downhill and others (total 182 units);

  • nomenclature: Kevlar, Nomex, Proban;

  • jargon: gentleman driver, intermediate, etc. (only 21 units);

Frequent use of these borrowings in MCS leads to the fact that these words cease to be perceived as borrowing for the person involved in this environment.

Half-calques (64 units or 12.85%):

  • terms: DRS duct (DDR, or Double DRS; originally F-Duct Front Wing, or FDFW), pole position, automaker, active suspension (active suspension system) and others (a total of 57 units);

  • jargon: T-wing, V-shaped keel ( (Vee-keel), X-shaped wing (X-wing), throttle jockey, etc. (only 7 units).

Calques (195 units or 39.16%):

  • terms (195 units or 39.16%): car dealership (eng. motor show), aerodynamic paint (eng. Flow Visualization Paint, or Flow vis), wind tunnel, aerodynamic drag, an air car, etc. (only 151 units);

  • jargon: a battle station, boom-boom (bang-bang), bagpipes, a door for a cat (cat flap), etc. (total 44 units).

It is worth noting that at the moment, concepts, phenomena and objects denoted by foreign terms are represented in the Russian language mainly by literal borrowings (41.37%) and tracing units (39.16%). Semi-calcated units and words that have not undergone graphic processing are found much less frequently in the Russian MCS (12.85% and 6.62%, respectively). For a number of terms of the first group, the problem of establishing grammatical features, such as gender and declination, is characteristic.

In general, the main processes of the words terminizing coincide with the mechanisms of specialization. These are metaphorization, metonymization, semantic and syntactic types of derivation. The first three are the products of a deep internal semantic transformation, which is often supplemented by various related phenomena. The high productivity of these types of semantic changes is largely due to the ability of human thinking to perceive similarity or adjacency between elements, to group values ​​according to gender-specific characteristics. Based on the material discussed in the chapter, we can conclude that metonymy in terms of language is less productive for the formation of new terms than a metaphor, but is the most feasible in the language of motorsport media. A metaphor is the leading mechanism of specialization, giving both terms and non-terminological vocabulary imagery and facilitating the perception of meaning.


The results of the study show that various shifts and transformations in the social sphere lead to the emergence of new corporate sublanguages, for example, MCS, a phenomenon which consists of terminological and non-terminological vocabulary. These lexical groups are dynamically evolving. This is a result of a number of processes; the most significant are specialization and borrowing. Specialization allows building the levels of the terminological system, and borrowing expands the variability of the choice of lexical units, which makes the national MCS unique.


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Kobyskan, A., Yakovleva, E., & Irnanazarov, E. (2020). The Relevant Problems Of Russian Lexicology: The Motorsport Corporate Sublanguage. In I. Murzina (Ed.), Humanistic Practice in Education in a Postmodern Age, vol 93. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 526-535). European Publisher.