2017. № 3 (13), 449-458

V. V. Vinogradov Russian Language Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences


This paper investigates the factors that affect the choice of the way of writing (small or capital grapheme) for nominations of different kind. We are dealing with usage, paradigmatic, distributive, and economic factors. By contemporary language examples it is shown that these factors may be at variance with each other, which gives rise to usage variativity.

The usage factor manifests itself in the frequency of certain way of writing in the usage practice among well-educated native speakers and plays primarily the diagnostic role as regards adherence to spelling norms. However, for a significant prevalence of certain orthograms the usage factor may be conductive to corrections of the orthographic norm. The paradigmatic factor acts as a unification tool based on different paradigmatic relationships. The distributive factor shows up in the situational conditionality of spelling proceeding from context requirements. The economic factor stems from the tendency to minimize the number of capital graphemes in the text, which corresponds to the Russian orthographic tradition.

Each of these factors and its reliant criterion of orthographic choice may serves as an auxiliary codification tool. In this case, orthographic solutions are underlain by the linguistic status of the appellation, commonly from the viewpoint of its conformity with the notion of a proper name. As for compound non-one-word appellations, the problem may lie with determining the appellation composition.