Military Linguistics: Russian in the Red/Soviet Army

Nathan Hawryluk

Abstract


Minimal comprehensive linguistic research has been conducted on military communication. Yet class, ethnicity, gender, power and social structure are expressed through discourse, making linguistics a useful tool for studying military culture. Examining linguistic studies of Russian in the army, war films and fiction, this article uses sociolinguistics to determine the nature of communication in the Red Army and Soviet Army from the Russian Civil War to the late-Soviet period. Based on dialectology, army discourse is reviewed as a language variety to evaluate the extent to which it is distinct from Contemporary Standard Russian. This appears to be a product of linguistic necessity, historical isolation and cultural separation. Critical discourse analysis explains how communication reflects and reinforces both the army's social structure and hierarchy. In turn, army discourse has influenced civilian Russian society and language. Consequently, this article argues for the development of military linguistics as a new field of study.

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.