Official Language: “How Stuffy!”

2021. № 2, 35-43

Tatiana S. Sadova


St. Petersburg State University (Russia, St. Petersburg)

Dmitrii V. Rudnev

St. Petersburg State University (Russia, St. Petersburg),


The article presents some ideas of the authors about the history of Russian official speech, the rule of the formation of meaningful impersonality in documentary texts and the ways to achieve clarity and accuracy, proclaimed as the most important for official communication in general. The foundation of new official speech started at the beginning of the 18th century, in the reign of Peter the Great. His government reforms with an orientation towards the Western model of the “state-mechanism” were continued by his followers, which was reflected in the language of state communication - in the Russian official language of the new periods: the rigidity of state machinery led to the language becoming more and more depersonalized. It didn’t have a personal touch anymore. The final variant of the new official language, which remains fundamentally unchanged to this day, falls on the reign of Alexander I. As a result of the emergence of ministries instead of collegia, large-scale office work arises, requiring a strict hierarchy in the workflow, where papers gradually replaced actions. The language of the official sphere, following the reforms of social life, also acquires many new qualities, the main of which are impersonality, emotionality, the desire for accuracy.

For citation:

Sadova T. S., Rudnev D. V. Offi cial Language: “How Stuffy!”. Russian Speech = Russkaya Rech’. 2021. No. 2. Pp. 35–43. DOI: 10.31857/S013161170014707-6.


The study was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (project № 20-012-00338).