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Monday, May 10th, 2004

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Статья Б.О. Унбегауна “О русском литературном языке” впервые была напечатана в  “The Modern Language Review”, ежеквартальном журнале Modern Humanities Research Association, т. 68, . 4 (October 1973).

Выражаемые в ней идеи представляют радикальную формулировку лингвистической схемы первоначально изложенной Н.С. Трубецким в 1927 году в статье написанной для сборника “К проблеме русского самопознания”. Речь Унбегауна произнесенная на одном из славистских конгрессов в конце 60-х или начале 70-х положила начало ожесточенной научной войне между фракциями “церковнославистов”, подчеркивавших роль церковно-славянского языка как станового хребта в историческом развитии и современной структуре русского литературного языка, и “народников”, утверждавших что современный русский язык восходит главным образом к разговорному языку и диалектам, а церковно-славянский язык не оказал существенного влияния на современный русский литературный.

20 с лишним лет исследований и страстных споров дали плодом разработку тщательной и всесторонней схемы интеграции и слияния двух языковых подсистем (церковно-славянской и “народно-русской”) в одном языкерусском литературном, и их взаимодействия в рамках этого синтетического (“двухмерного”, по выражению Унбегауна) языка. (См. напр. ряд книг и статей Б.А. Успенского, напр. его “Краткий очерк истории русского литературного языка”, М. 1994; или В.М. Живова, “Язык и культура в России XVIII века”, М. 1996.)

С точки зрения современного состояния языковедения, некоторые из утверждений Унбегауна предстают устаревшими и неточными. Однако вряд ли возможно переоценить роль, которую его речь и статья, представившие основные концепции с такой исключительной ясностью и заостренностью, сыграли в развитии современной теории русского литературного языка.

The Russian Literary Language:
A Comparative View


The Presidential Address of the Modern Humanities Research Association
read at University College, London, on 5 January 1973*

*) This is the text of the Address read on the President's behalf by Professor Robert Auty on 5 January 1973. To our great sorrow Professor Unbegaun died on 4 March 1973 and was unable to complete the fuller version of his Address which he had intended for publication.


The title of my Address calls for an explanation. “Literary language” is, I am afraid, a Russianism or a Gallicism: “literaturnyj jazyk” or “langue literaire”. The proper English term would have been “standard language”, the German – “Hochsprache”. If I have, none the less, chosen “literary language”, it is for historical reasons, as you may very soon discover.

The first written language the Russians learned was not their vernacular, but the so-called Old Church Slavonic, brought to them as a Church language when they were Christianized, at the very end of the tenth century. At the origin, this Old Church Slavonic was an obscure Macedonian dialect, of Bulgarian type, spoken by Slavonic peasants and shepherds on the outskirts of a great Greek city, Salonica. It had, however, the unexpected luck of being known and spoken by two Greeks, natives of Salonica, two brothers, one a learned theologian and a linguist, another a monk and a former high administrator of the Byzantine Empire. Later the two brothers were canonized and are now known as Saints Cyril and Methodius. With the help of their native Greek, they succeeded in elevating the Macedonian vernacular of Salonica to the dignity of the first Slavonic written language, even more than that – to the status of a fully-fledged liturgical language. The birth certificate of this language bears the date of 863. Phonetically and morphologically it was purely Slavonic, but in its syntax, principles of word-formation, and vocabulary, it was strongly influenced by Byzantine Greek.

This Old Church Slavonic was imported to Kiev and Novgorod, as the language of the church, at the end of the tenth century. At that time the non-divided Common Slavonic language, which still existed in the middle of the first millennium A.D., had already been split into individual Slavonic languages, but the young scions were still so close one to another that Old Church Slavonic could be accepted and understood without any difficulty by the Eastern, as well as by the Southern and the Western Slavs. Everywhere it was welcomed as a form of the local vernacular, but of a higher, and sacred, nature. Nowhere was the need felt to translate it into the vernacular.

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And here Modern Standard Russian stands, a naturalized alien with an uninterrupted tradition of nine hundred years, first as a Church language, then as a literary language, and, finally, as an all-purpose standard, and the spoken idiom of the educated. Such a development is unique in the Slavonic world. It is unparalleled among the languages of Europe.

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