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After NewspeakLanguage Culture and Politics in Russia from Gorbachev to Putin$
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Michael S. Gorham

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780801452628

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801452628.001.0001

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Economies of Profanity

Economies of Profanity

Free Speech and Varieties of Language Degradation

Chapter:
(p.75) 3 Economies of Profanity
Source:
After Newspeak
Author(s):

Michael S. Gorham

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801452628.003.0004

This chapter turns to the ascendancy of “freedom of speech” as a dominant language ideology in post-Soviet language culture, largely a result of loosening state control of the leading technologies of communication. While the lifting of censorship and control over media led to new, more democratic styles of speaking and writing, it also undercut the cultural authority traditionally enjoyed by the Academy, the schools, and other institutions of speech culture and proper usage. Indeed, in the new market-driven media climate, the literary language ceded cultural capital to speech styles laden with slang, vulgarity, and loanwords. As the political and economic climate grew more troubled over the course of the 1990s, so too did the perception that “freedom of speech” amounted at best to little more than a license to swear in public and, at worst, a crisis state of “linguistic lawlessness.”

Keywords:   freedom of speech, post-Soviet, language culture, communication technologies, media censorship, slang, vulgarity, loanwords, speech styles

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