V. I.   Lenin



Published: First published in Pravda No. 21, January 21, 1940. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1976], Moscow, Volume 35, page 434.
Translated: Andrew Rothstein
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive.   You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work, as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
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January 18, 1920

Comrade Lunacharsky,

Recently I had occasion—to my regret and shame, for the first time—to look through the famous Dahl dictionary.[1]

It’s a magnificent thing, hut then it’s a dictionary of regional terms, and out of date. Is it not time to produce a dictionary of the real Russian language, a dictionary, say, of words used nowadays and by the classics, from Pushkin to Gorky?

What if 30 scholars were set to work at this, and provided with Red Army rations?

What would be your attitude to this idea?

A dictionary of the classical Russian language?

Without making a noise about it, have a talk with people who know the subject, if it’s not too much trouble, and let me know your opinion.



[1] Reference is to Tolkovy slovar zhivogo velikorusskogo yazyka ( Explanatory Dictionary of the Living Great-Russian Language) by V. I. Dahl, published in four volumes, 1863–66.

In accordance with Lenin’s instructions, the People’s Commissariat of Education began work on compiling a new dictionary, but the project was not realised at that time. A new Tolkovy slovar russkogo yazyka (Explanatory Dictionary of the Russian Language) came out in 1935–40 in four volumes under the editorship of D. N. Ushakov.

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