2017. № 3 (13), 43-52

Omsk F. M. Dostoevsky State University


Based on the example of the euphemistic adjective ‘kraynii’ (‘extreme’, ‘utmost’, ‘final’) for the word ‘poslednii’ (‘last’) that has spread in many spheres of Russian speech, the article considers the phenomenon of the "viral" spread of speech innovations. In the author's opinion, the speed and scale of their penetration in discursive practices of the modern Russian language do not allow to attribute these facts to verbal errors and require search for other reasons are rooted in communicative-pragmatic and cognitive specificity of the functional language.

The material was sampled from the database Medialoguia by modeling possible combinations of the noun with the adjective kraynii in its euphemistic function. The hypothesis was based on the precedent occurrences of combinations in the media and the blogosphere such as kraynii match (last match), kraynii concert (last concert), kraynii otchet (last report). The search for these and similar combinations was conducted in spheres with a certain level of risk and unpredictability.

On the basis of the data obtained, various areas of euphemistic substitution of the lexeme ‘poslednyi’ (‘last’) were identified. The author took into account the tradition of cultural and speech evaluations of such substitution in scholarly and "naive" linguistics, and analysed metalinguistic reflection of native speakers about competing nominations.

The study draws a conclusion about the dynamic processes of the "new Russian euphemisation". They are based on the peculiarities of the spread of speech innovations that are motivated, on the one hand, by linguistic trend, and on the other hand by false notions about the magical power of words. Both reasons encourage speakers to reproduce such euphemistic speech stereotypes unconciously, which leads to their viral spread, primarily in new media and the blogosphere.