“Messages” Column in the Free Ads Newspaper of the 1990s: On the Question of the Precursors and Origins of Internet Communication

2019. № 2, 69-93

Vadim V. Dementyev, Saratov State University (Russia, Saratov), dementevvv@yandex.ru


The article discusses a recently abandoned genre that is signifi cant for the speech genre historian — the “Messages” column in the free ads newspaper. The author discusses the linguistic and initial speech genre features of the texts of this column and his relationship with it: in the 1990s, the author was regularly reading the “Messages”, and tried to analyze them. Thus, the author reviews the “Messages” of the 1990s, and his own comments made at
that time from the point of modern linguist and speech genre researcher. “Messages” and the Internet are compared, keypoints for comparison and distinctions are uncovered: 1) “Messages” did not have the technical capabilities of the Internet, such as speed and hypertext character; 2) “Messages” were originally written by hand, and were not typed using the keyboard, as a result there were no smiles etc., nonverbal communication components, the editors corrected errors and cut off the swearing; 3) the authors of the “Messages” did not have knowledge of the Internet and the corresponding communicative, linguistic and metalinguistic competence; 4) due to the short period of the “Messages`” existence, the speech genres system did not have enough time to emerge in comparison with the Internet, however, there was an initial speech genre, structural development: the anonymity of the participants and appearance of the nicknames; word creation (“komuchtisty”); the emergence of new precedent texts; organization of the fl ash mobs; some recognizable authors and styles, resembling modern blog posts. It is shown that the analysis of former speech phenomena is useful for a better understanding of modern processes in the speech genres. Comparing the speech genre phenomena, that were recognized new for a quarter of a century ago, and the speech genre phenomena that are new now (the Internet), one can find several general trends in the development of unofficial written communication genres. As a result, these trends for the modern phenomenon become clear due to this comparison.