Table of contents:

How revolutionaries changed the Russian language
How revolutionaries changed the Russian language

They not only changed the political system and overthrew the king, but also introduced a new spelling, removing several letters from the alphabet. The reform of the Russian language was brewing even before the revolution, but the Russian Academy of Sciences worked slowly, and was in no hurry to introduce it everywhere. After the 1917 revolution, the new government acted much more decisively: it was necessary to abandon everything "old" - the regime, religion, economy, including spelling.

In 1918, a decree on a new spelling was issued, and all printed publications were obliged to follow them. The pre-revolutionary spelling was virtually destroyed.

Why reform the language?


Schoolchildren in writing class

Pre-revolutionary spelling was rather complicated, and the Bolsheviks needed a language reform, including to simplify learning. After all, one of their main tasks was the elimination of illiteracy. Several years before the revolution, according to various estimates, only about 40% of the Russian population could read and write skillfully. But the new ruling class proclaimed by Vladimir Lenin - workers and peasants - had to work actively in all areas, so the power of the young Land of Soviets obliged the entire population from 8 to 50 years to learn to read and write.

The population census of 1926 showed that in just a few years about 50 percent of literate people had already become in the village.

Several letters were removed from the alphabet


Vladimir Lenin and People's Commissar for Education Anatoly Lunacharsky (right), who signed a decree on the introduction of a new spelling

Before the revolution, the Russian alphabet consisted of 35 letters, there was no single set of spelling rules - there was only a civil script approved by Peter the Great. Peter sought to limit the power of the church, so he came up with a simplified spelling of letters for government decrees, secular documents, and the first newspapers.

The Bolsheviks removed several letters, and replaced several with simpler analogs that also already existed in the alphabet (that is, in fact, the letters that denote the same sound should be combined into one). There were 32 letters in the post-revolutionary alphabet, later the letter E was approved as a separate one, and there were 33 of them. This alphabet is used to this day.

The decree introducing the new spelling read:

1. Delete the letter "ѣ" (Yat), replacing it with "e" (knee - knee, vѣra - faith, in the hut - in the hut).

2. Delete the letter "ѳ" (Fita), replacing it with "f" (Thomas, Athanasius, incense, pulpit).

3. Delete letter "ъ" (Ер)at the end of words and parts of compound words (the already mentioned example - in the hut - in the hut, hlѣb - bread, rear-admiral - rear-admiral). This rule was rather complicated - I had to memorize words that needed a "b" at the end. In addition, eliminating its use in this function saved up to 4 percent of printed text. Linguist Lev Uspensky even calculated that 8, 5 million extra pages are annually spent on "b".

However, "b" was preserved in the middle of the words as a dividing ("solid") sign (shooting, explain, adjutant). This is how it is used today.

4. Delete the letter "i"(And decimal) and replace it with "and" (scholarship - doctrine, Russia - Russia, Ioann - John). This rule subsequently caused some difficulty - with handwritten text, the letters "I" in combination with the letter "w" or "m", for example, merge.

5. To recognize as desirable, but optional, the use of the letter "ё"(dog, led, everything).

Interestingly, the decree did not mention another letter of the old alphabet - "ѵ" (Izhitsa), but it was practically not used anyway: widespread in religious texts, it smoothly transformed into its graphic counterpart "and".

What else has changed in the language


Spelling classes for workers of the Moscow plant Krasny Bogatyr

In addition to the actual spelling of words, several spelling rules have changed.

For example, prefixes ending in z (from, cart, time, roses, bottom, without, through, through) now had to be written differently depending on which letter follows them. Before vowels and voiced consonants, "z" remained, but before voiceless consonants, "z" should be replaced with "s" (break up, break up, but part)

In this case, the prefix "c-" itself does not change in any way regardless of other letters.


Teaching the population to read and write in the village of Shorkasy (Cheboksary district), 1930s

The complex rules for endings in some case forms have also changed:

  • In the genitive case of adjectives, participles and pronouns, it was now necessary to write "hoo", "him", instead of "ago", "yago" (good - good, early - early).
  • In the nominative and accusative cases of the feminine and neuter adjectives, participles and pronouns, the endings "yya", "іya" were replaced by "s", "e", instead of "ya", "іya" (good - kind, blue - blue).
  • The pronoun "They" used to be distinguished into the feminine form "Onk" and the masculine form "They", but now only "They" remain. It is the same with the feminine numeral "one". (One - one, one - one and so on).
  • The possessive pronoun "her" in the singular genitive has become her (or her).

How the reform was perceived in society


Letters that were "kicked out" of the alphabet

The white emigration did not accept the new spelling - people who left the country after the revolution believed that the Bolsheviks had almost mutilated the Russian language. Until the 1940s-1950s, Russian emigrant publications were published abroad in the old style. The emigrants of later years were already taught and accustomed to the new rules.

Difficulties arose with the population already trained to read and write. In personal correspondence, many continued to use the old spelling, while others had to urgently retrain. Well, first of all, the teachers themselves had to get used to the new spelling.

But one of the main difficulties was the translation into a new language of a huge layer of classical literature of the 18-19 centuries. Due to the new rules with endings, for example, some rhymes in poetry have suffered. However, in the situation with books, there was also a positive result - the works of many great writers scattered across magazines and collections in Soviet times were "translated" and published as a single collection of works.

Popular by topic