Are the Words Pokhodu and Pokhozhe Similar?

2020. № 6, 28-39

Irina B. Levontina, Vinogradov Russian Language Institute (Russian Academy of Sciences)
(Russia, Moscow),


Parasite-words, or fillers, are of keen interest not only to linguists, but also to ordinary native speakers. The term parasite-words itself originates  from the field of speech culture, not descriptive linguistics. However, no other term has yet been found to denote the corresponding phenomenon in Russian language. In linguistics it is well-known that so-called ‘parasites’ perform many useful functions in the language and become harmful only when used excessively. Moreover, semantically, these words are not meaningless. The language is constantly updating. This is also typical for
parasite-words — the fashion for them often changes. For some time now, a word pokhodu has been in vogue: A ti pokhodu sovsem durak? (You are, like, a complete idiot, aren’t you?); A u tebya pokhodu samoye dlinnoye sochineniye
(Your essay is, like, the longest one). It is believed that pokhodu is a distorted word pokhozhe (‘it seems’). Indeed, in many examples, pokhodu can be replaced with pokhozhe. However, this is not always the case. In particular,
pokhodu is freely used in special questions and imperatives, which is impossible for pokhozhe. In addition, observations of the real oral discourse show that before the discursive pokhodu appeared, expression po khodu dela (‘on the fl y’) and its variant po khodu p’yesy became more active — both with adverbial and weakened discursive meaning. The article also provides other arguments against interpreting pokhodu as distorted pokhozhe.

For citation:

Levontina I. B. Are the Words Pokhodu and Pokhozhe Similar? Russian Speech = Russkaya Rech’. 2020. No. 6. Pp. 28–39. DOI: 10.31857/S013161170012874-0.


This research is supported by the grant of Russian Foundation for Basic Research № 19-012-00291.