The History of the Word Interventsiya in Russian

2020. № 5, 99-110


The paper deals with the history of a Russian word interventsiya from 1700s till present time. In the beginning, the word had almost the same meaning as the word l'intervention in French – intervention in a dispute, in someone's business, or in some situation; diplomatic or military intervention or financial intervention. In 1920s it became the name of a certain historical event, namely, the military intervention of the Western countries during the Civil War in Russia. In Soviet Russian, judging by the information from the dictionaries and Russian National Corpus, it had only one meaning – military intervention (with a negative connotation). Note that the French word intervention has no negative connotations. However, since 1990s it has often been used to refer to any situation when a person is involved in a certain issue or problem in order to influence what happens. In particular, in such collocations as gumanitarnaya interventsiya, valyutnaya interventsiya, tovarnaya interventsiya. A sure proof of these semantic shifts is the data of the Modern Newspapers Subcorpus of the Russian National Corpus. Even when the word refers to a military intervention, it may have no negative connotations (e.g. voennye interventsii v sopredel'nye strany s tsel'yu zashchity zakonnogo pravitel'stva ot terroristicheskoi ugrozy; note that the collocation gumanitarnaya interventsiya often refers to a military intervention). This fact may be due to the influence of English language and the meaning and usage of the word intervention in English.

For citation:

Shmeleva E. Ya. The History of the Word Interventsiya in Russian. Russian Speech = Russkaya Rech’. 2020. No. 5. Pp. 99–110. DOI: 10.31857/ S013161170012135-7.