From Russian Into Russian. Internet Communication Aspects - Part 2

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Another interesting Internet communication tool is deliberate strikethrough. It imitates a slip of the tongue: the person writing something pretends to have said something wrong first but emphasizes this word or phrase to show it to the readers using strikethrough (or the word "zacherknuto/crossed out"). This tool is usually used to express irony or show a language game, e.g. "And the first place in a European city any tourist goes to is a bar, sure enough, the old city."

Lately, shortened politeness formulas such as sps (spasibo)/thx (thanks) and dd (dobry den)/gd (good day) have been commonly used. These formulas can often be puzzling or irritating because as such they do not perform their primary function of showing respect anymore. "Spasibo" is rather common and quite appropriate in friendly correspondence, but "dobry den" is used only in formal communication with unfamiliar people or complete strangers, so it should not be shortened.

Let us say a few words about the expression "dobrogo vremeni sutok/good whatever time of day applies." It has emerged in the Internet age because the message sent, for example, in the daytime in one time zone, is delivered instantly and can be read by the recipient from another time zone, where the evening has already come. Somebody thought it inappropriate and impolite

to write "dobry den" in such cases (though this is not true, "dobry den" is a universal Russian greeting because the word "den" can also mean "sutki/24-hour day"), and a new greeting formula—"dobrogo vremeni sutok" was invented. But now it is perceived as a cliché from the 2000s and irritates many people.

Besides, this expression is grammatically wrong. When greeting somebody, it is customary to use nouns in the nominative case ("dobroe utro/good morning," "dobry den," "dobry vecher/good evening"), and we use the genitive case when saying goodbye ("dobroy nochi/good night," "udachi/good luck," "khoroshego dnya/have a good day!"). That is why you had better give up using a rather awkward "dobrogo vremeni sutok" and get back to a standard "zdravstvuyte.

Punctuation on the Internet also has its peculiarities. Internet communication is usually free of complex syntactic constructions, participial and adverbial participial phrases, so people rarely need a lot of commas, semicolons, dashes, and colons. But even punctuation marks that must be used according to punctuation rules are often omitted. The reason is banal: people just do not want to waste their time on them.

All these spelling and punctuation peculiarities have resulted in the common myth that Internet communication leads to illiteracy. But in fact, cause and effect switched places in this statement: those who already were illiterate just showed this on the Internet. But even well-educated and literate people miss a comma in web dialogues now and then.

We all communicate with our bosom friends in a way different from communication with our boss. The same is true for Internet communication and official documents, and that's OK.

And it looks weird when the Internet user makes up Leo Tolstoy-style sentences, uses only a neutral or lofty style, and always spells "Vy/You" with a capital letter. Yes, this is appropriate for business letters or a personal letter to the person you have great respect for.

But, when you communicate with your friend in your messenger or in the comments under the Facebook post, it is quite logical that you change your level of discourse. The difference between literate and illiterate people is that literate people can do this and use the language in all its diversity. Otherwise, we are at risk of turning into the ladies of N. city*, who "were pre-eminently careful and refined in their choice of words and phrases" and never said, "I blew my nose," but said, "I relieved my nose through the expedient of wiping it with my handkerchief."

So, how to communicate in the Internet age? There are no ready answers. One thing is clear: we must follow the principle of relevance and be careful when communicating with somebody. However, it has always been the case.

We thank Svetlana Guryanova, a philology graduate of Lomonosov Moscow State University, for providing the necessary information.

1980

Inspired by Eugene Onegin, a novel in verse written by Alexander Pushkin

23.12.2020
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