If there is another country in the world that displays the kind of ignorance, xenophobia and nationalism that we find in huge supply in this country, it’s Russia. Another example: They’re now considering a law to ban the use of non-Russian words, especially American ones.
‘We’re tormented with Americanisms,’ the leader of Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, complained last week. ‘We need to liberate our language from foreign words.’ He is drawing up a list of 100 words which he would like it to be illegal for broadcasters, writers and academics to use in public. Fines and unemployment could face anyone caught saying café, bar, restaurant, sale, mouton, performance or trader. Some of the words have come into use since the fall of the Soviet Union; others have been around for decades, if not centuries. ‘There are perfectly good Russian words you can use,’ Zhirinovsky says. ‘Why say boutique when we have lavka?’ (Lavka is usually translated into English as something like ‘stall’.)
Zhirinovsky singled out for criticism the cable channel TV Dozhd (‘Rain TV’), which broadcasts lifestyle programmes with English titles and gives airtime to opposition leaders banned from media loyal to the Kremlin. ‘They’ll soon go over to English entirely,’ Zhirinovsky said. In December, Evgeny Fyodorov, a Duma deputy in Putin’s United Russia Party, offered the influx of foreign words as evidence that Russia is controlled by US agents: ‘President and mayor are not Russian words, they are words that came with the occupying forces’ of the US after 1991.
Damn foreigners, messing with Americanisms!
Like Dispatches on Facebook: