V. I. Lenin

Stop Spoiling The Russian Language

Some Thoughts At Leisure, I.E., While Listening To Speeches At Meetings[1]

Written: December, 1919
First Published: First published in Pravda No. 275; December 3, 1924; Published according to the manuscript
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 30, page 298
Translated: George Hanna
Transcription/HTML Markup: David Walters & Robert Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2002. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

We are spoiling the Russian language. We are using foreign words unnecessarily. And we use them incorrectly. Why use the foreign word defekty when we have three Russian synonyms—nedochoty nedosta tki, probely.

A man who has recently learned to read in. general, and to read newspapers in particular, will, of course, if he reads them diligently, willy-nilly absorb journalistic turns of speech. However, it is the language of the newspapers that is beginning to suffer. If a man who has recently learned to read uses foreign words as a novelty, he is to be excused, but there is no excuse for a writer. Is it not time for us to declare war on the unnecessary use of foreign words?

I must admit that the unnecessary use of foreign words annoys me (because it makes it more difficult for us to exercise our influence over the masses) but some of the mistakes made by those who write in the newspapers make me really angry. For instance—the word budirovat is used in the meaning of arouse, awaken, stir up. It comes from the French word bonder which means to sulk, to pout, which is what budirovat should really mean. This adoption of Nizhni-Novgorod French is the adoption of the worst from the worst representatives of the Russian landowning class, who learned some French but who, first, did not master the language, and who, secondly, distorted the Russian language.

Is it not time to declare war on the spoiling of Russian?


[1] This item was written by Lenin in 1919 or 1920 at one of the meetings of the Political Bureau of the C.C., R.C.P.(B.). It was found at the end of 1924 and first published in Pravda. The exact time when it was written has not been established.