Problems Of The Development Of The Russian Language In The Digital Age


The rapid development of science and technology has an impact on all aspects of human life: along with new digital technologies, the borders between states and people are blurred, distance no longer matters, the amount of information accumulated by mankind is not able to be mastered by anyone. Scientists talk about the starting of a new digital civilization, which has a number of distinctive features. The digitalization of society leads to the changes at all levels of human life. The younger generation perceives digitalization as one of the areas of modern culture, and in this we can note its positive role. However, it also causes negative changes in the Russian language system as an instrument of interaction between people. Negative manifestations of minimizing the size of language utterance affect personal communication. Preserving the main function - to be the bearer and spokesman of meaning, the language is transformed with a person and society.

Keywords: Computer slangdigitalization of societyilanguagelanguage of social networkslanguage transformationvirtual communication


Modern society is a digital civilization: the main sign of a modern life is the presence of rapidly developing digital technologies and their impact on all areas of life. The future of humanity is the subject of image in science fiction works, which authors build various logical models of the future of humanity, making assumptions based on its development trends. Indicative from this point of view, we think, is a classical antiutopia Е. Zamyatina «My» (Zamyatin, 2015). It is generally accepted that the main idea of the novel is an image of a soulless totalitarian society. But already in the analysis of the heroes’ names, we can assume that the digitalization process became the cause of the depersonalization of the individual, in a direct meaning: the names of the characters are an alphanumeric code. S. Lukyanenko writes a novel «Glubina» (Lukyanenko, 2014), where heroes practically abandon reality, in favor of a virtual life; V. Pelevin shows the future, where the line between a "real" reality and a virtual reality is ghostly and inseparable (Generation «P») (Pelevin, 2015). Akunin (2008) creates a work that combines the features of a traditional book and a computer game («Quest»); А. Zinovyev in a «futuristic tale of society». «Globalnuy Cheloveinik» (Zinovyev, 2019) sharply raises the question of the future of computerization, and hence digitalization, of modern society, and the author’s forecasts are far from optimistic. Thus, the writer believes that «the twentieth century was perhaps the last human century».

Problem Statement

The processes taking place in society and affecting the individual cannot but be reflected in the language, the distinguishing feature of a rational person.

Research Questions

3.1. How does the digitalization of society affect the language, its structure and quality, what changes occurring in the language are caused by this influence?

Purpose of the Study

The aim of the study is to identify parts of the language that are most affected by digitalization, to analyze the processes occurring in these parts.

Research Methods

Data collection, linguistic analysis of material. During the study, texts of various contents in the amount of 1,500 were analyzed. The object of the analysis was text messages (SMS) and dialogs on various Internet forums. The age of the respondents is from 15 to 25 years old. During the linguistic analysis of the collected language material, special attention was paid to the phonemic-graphic-phonetic analysis of language units, morphemic and derivational analysis of words, morphological analysis of parts of speech and stylistic analysis of lexemes and phrases.


According to the scientists, in the second half of the twentieth century the first digital revolution took place, the main features of which were the “ubiquitous” and mobile Internet, miniature devices, artificial intelligence and training machines» (Shvab, 2017, р. 16). However, this point of view among some scientists raises reasonable objections (Ahromeeva et al., 2017). At the same time, some authors believe that the development of a digital society and the transition to digital civilization are changing relations in the chain «man – society», «citizen – state». Chernyshova (2019) believes that in the era of the formation of a digital society a person not only gets more opportunities for self-determination and self-expression, but also faces greater risks than in the non-digital era, which, in turn, led to the emergence of «digital rights».

Signs of a digital society, according to Schwab (2017), are that “80% of people with a digital presence on the Internet; 90% of the population use smartphones; more than 50% of home Internet traffic falls on applications and devices atc.” (Shvab, 2017, р. 5). At the same time, modern society shows a great dependence on digital technologies: a significant part of the population spends in virtual reality more than 50% of active time. The attitude of the various specialists to this phenomenon is extremely negative: “Imagine that each person was offered to spend about 6 hours in a prison every day - of course, he would refuse indignantly. However, this is exactly what he does for his money, sacrificing his real life for the sake of virtual computer reality…” (Ahromeeva et al., 2017, р. 105).

However, studies have shown that “digital reality has a direct impact on the physiology of modern youth. Students, in their absolute majority, cannot answer the questions posed for more than one and a half minutes” (Kugai & Mihailova, 2019, р. 92). There are more pragmatic reasons for concern: the development of digital technology is increasingly displacing people from the labor market, automation of production makes manual, and therefore human labor unnecessary. As a result, “еxperts from various fields began to realize the consequences of technological development for human labor and, as a consequence, for human existence as a whole” (Klovait & Erofeeva, 2019, р. 67). Substantive fears are also caused by digital functional illiteracy of a sufficiently large number of older people, whose existence in the digital age will become more complicated if the government does not take certain actions to avoid social and psychological catastrophe (Baskakova & Soboleva, 2019).

As you can see, scientists are basically far from optimistic. In this regard, in recent years, more and more people are talking about a comprehensive study of the laws, trends, and features of new technologies that change our lives, work, forms of communication, which began to penetrate everywhere in all areas of our lives: politics, economics, education etc. It is absolutely obvious that the young generation perceives digitalization as one of the areas of a modern culture. On the one hand, considering this process as an innovation in culture, we can note its positive role. First of all, it is the expansion of the number of contacts with which it is possible to exchange all kinds of information. Moreover, this process attracts not only young people, but also the older generation. As a result, many people of different ages and professions can communicate, exchange information without leaving their home, office, on trains and airplanes, lead an informational active life, practically without distracting from it. However, scientists see in this not only positive aspects. So, there is an opinion that “... the media (the Internet certainly refers to them - T. Fomina, Yu. Fateeva, & O. Ignatenko) are "external extensions of a person”, as it were, “extensions of his body” (Shmidt, 2005, р. 425). This makes a person’s possibilities almost endless: to quickly receive any information, of any volume, from anywhere in the world, makes life much easier, especially if professional activity is connected with this information and efficiency. However, for an ordinary person, things are different: "Understood as" external "means for recording and transmitting a" living "language and internal experience, they alienate a person from himself, which leads to the emergence of a schizoid perception of the world" (Shmidt, 2005, р. 425).

A particular interest in the system of changes in the “basic principles” of society is the fate of the language as the main tool of communication and the keeper of culture. The processes occurring in the language at the present time were studied by the following authors: Gee and Hayes, (2011), Oates, (2016), Wang and Winstead (2016), Fišer et al. (2020), Karamalak and Pozhidaeva (2019), Karjus et al. (2020), Michaud (2020), Nölle et al. (2020). There is no doubt that the digitalization of the communicative sphere has led to a paradigm shift in the purpose: not enough for a modern person to transmit information over long distances (the telephone, telegraph, and other “gadgets” of the past have completely coped with this), now it is necessary to transform the volume: in a short message – maximum information.

It should be noted that interest in the problem of the correlation of form and content, ways of expanding meaning accompanies the history of development of both language and art as a whole. However, if in the past the word and language were the main value of culture and human consciousness, now the process of correlation of form and content has undergone tremendous changes. So, in connection with a change in the purpose of communication (lightning-fast transmission of information), the process of language transformation is accelerated. In this case, the transmission criterion becomes the main criterion of modernity, the form, following the content, goes into the background. Social networks are gaining popularity, on the pages of which people record every moment of their life, "selflessly parting with private life, betraying its publicity of their own free will" (Solovyev, 2009, р. 103).

On the other hand, a surface appeared in the perception of information, a lack of in-depth understanding, which entailed emotional limitation, inability to reason, stiffness in a continuous speech stream, illiteracy. The tendency of modern culture has led to the fact that the man himself “stopped”, became like a “living dead” (Shmidt, 2005), when everything that happens to you and your body is closely studied, and the result of such an “analysis” is made public. As a result, there is a transformation of existing genres, the emergence of new ones, a complete change in the meaning of existing ones. So, for example, a similar fate befell such a genre of print media as a magazine, which is represented on the network by a “live journal”. LiveJournal gives bloggers the opportunity to express themselves in any form, without reviews and restrictions. Plus, it's free. Thus, people can easily find interest groups and not limit themselves to social boundaries.

Almost unlimited opportunities for self-expression have led to the fact that in virtual reality there are new types of people-users who often have no analogues in real life. Studies of the typology of new types of Internet human existence have recently been of undoubted interest. Among domestic works devoted to this topic, it is worth noting the work of Kondratyeva (2020) “Tipologiya polzovatelei socialnyh setei v metaforicheskom zerkale rosiiskih mass-media”.

The flip side of digitalization of society is an unlimited opportunity to be heard, and this in turn has led to the fact that the "little man", so popular in a classical Russian literature, is now not interesting to anyone. However, modernity has created “little readers” and “little authors” (term of А.V. Solovyev), and «posts» turn into internet graphomania. At the same time, another feature appears related to physical self-determination: scientists believe that virtual reality "decomposes the body", separating the human intellect and its physical shell (Pavlov, 2019). All this, one way or another, is reflected in the language.

The digitalization of society, which leads to information overload, has a powerful effect on the language, causing both qualitative and quantitative changes: the creation of hypertext ("communication in social networks"), the rejection of large verbal forms. Thus, it becomes obvious that the modern message language is developing in accordance with a certain plan: with the help of various mechanisms new abbreviations appear, a transformation of new lexical meanings takes place, sentences receive new structures.

The leading speech genres of communication within the digital society are “post” and messages, and the main means of communication are social networks and instant messengers. The younger generation began to forget that there are rules for spelling words, punctuation marks, etc. Even verbal communication with friends and colleagues turned into text messages, the main feature of which is illiteracy, poverty of vocabulary.

“The main thing that determined the lifestyle of the iGen generation, its habits, manner of communication - a Smartphone and social networks” (Kugai & Mihailova, 2019, р. 98). It should be added that Smartphone and social networks also determined the emergence and development of a new language - the so-called "ilanguage", "Internet dialect", the language of a publication on social networks and SMS. In this regard, regular processes began to occur. A stream of words burst into the Russian literary language, which are traces of English vocabulary (blogger, post, ban, etc.), by analogy with existing word-formation models, neologisms and derivatives from them (like, etc.) start to be born.

The purpose of publications and SMS is to express thoughts in a short form (to enclose the most voluminous content in a short form), in connection with which the modern iGen language is dominated by abbreviations of both English words and sentences (ASAP - as soon as possible), as well as Russian expressions (sps - thanks). But the saddest thing is the goal of any post on the social network or a comment on someone else's post - to declare oneself, to get as many views and ratings as possible. The main function of speech - communication - becomes unclaimed in a social network. Thus, people lose interest in communication, deployed competent expression of their thoughts, become unable to conduct reasoning in written and oral forms.

The language of modern virtual communication is not new, it came from the language of SMS. The main qualities of the new style of language are: the desire to curtail speech, transmit maximum information with a minimum of expressive means, increase the role of abbreviation and reduction of words, enrichment of the written language with emoticons, the ability to express thought in a concise form. At the same time, the language of chat rooms is not regulated by norms, which, on the one hand, allows you to be creative when writing words or expressing thoughts using non-speech means, on the other hand, it leads to a decrease in the literacy of the population. This is evidenced by the predominance of the imperative forms in social networks in the singular: “Click here!”, “Turn carousel!”, “Swipe up!”. Thus, an appeal to everyone on the “you” (even within the promotional video and stories) erases age and social differences between those who communicate, makes communication easy and equal.

Among the mechanisms of the formation of new lexicon means ilanguage, the following:

1) the formation of verbs from English words according to existing word-formation models: likat (like - rate a photo or publication), postit (post - post a message), taggit (tag - attach, mark a name in a photo);

2) the formation of neologisms proper or the acquisition of a new lexical meaning in a word: zalipat, zavisat (sticking, freezing staying in one place for a long time, often a virtual site, considering something for a long time);

3) abbreviations of Russian words, phrases and translations from English:

lol – LOL

pzlst, pls - please

No matter how blasphemous this transformation of the language may seem, however, participants in virtual communication use a large number of abbreviated units not only “to save language effort, reduce the volume of the text,” but also “in order to express an idea in a non-standard form and express a certain protest against the norm, when known, a frequently used word gains general expressiveness and novelty” (Ivanov, 2009, para. 25-27).

So, how does digitalization of modern times affect language? The emergence of new words becomes almost uncontrollable: lamer (chainik), avatar, comp - these are some examples of words that can be heard in young people, the speech of whom is replete with a computer slang.

Note that a large layer of vocabulary, which includes special vocabulary, certainly has a right to exist. The alarm is that this vocabulary can firmly enter the literary language.

It is also worrying that the negative manifestations of minimizing the size of the language utterance affect personal communication: the majority of the younger generation is not able to build a dialogue, produce a monologue for more than 1-1.5 minutes, it is often difficult to formulate a thought.

So, there is an opinion that "a man built himself in between the fragments of the language" (Epshtein, 2004, р. 7). In this case, the modern man of digital civilization, who has practically lost his linguistic connection with his culture, “builds himself” between fragments of short, often stamped status messages.


In a conclusion, we note that if before there was a powerful stream called “modern Russian literary language”, from which small flows flowed (and flowed into) (slangs, dialects, etc.), now it’s so polluted with digital products that it appears the channel of the “new language”, the course of which is so powerful that there is a risk of loosing the Russian language as a mirror of a Russian culture.


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