This Europe: Russia tries to repel invasion of nyu spik

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The Independent Online

The Cold War may be over but Russia is urgently beefing up its defences against a new wave of foreign invaders from the West.

The Cold War may be over but Russia is urgently beefing up its defences against a new wave of foreign invaders from the West.

The Duma is to consider a Bill sponsored by the Kremlin to crack down on the post-Soviet plague of alien slang, including an estimated 10,000 English words.

The law will set criminal punishments for offenders in the media, educational system and state service who use such unRussian terms as sleezbag, bigshot and loozer.

Nationalists have been warning for years that the Russian language – officially manicured in Soviet times – is in danger of drowning in the tidal wave of foreign influences. Experts call the linguistic melange, appropriately enough, nyu spik (newspeak).

The words include kompyuter, mobilni telefon, fax, konsultant, broker, sponsor, deeler, cheezburger and skin-khed, which have no equivalents in traditional Russian. Nor do many words regularly used in the Duma, such as parliament, prezident, speeker, impeechment, elektorat and konsensus.

Nationalists and language purists are furious at the use of English words where Russian equivalents exist. For example, many sportscasters now say golkeeper rather than the familiar Russian word vratar, for goalie. Street signs in Moscow offer "parking", though the word is stoyanka.

Yevgeny Chelishev, an academician, is on the Kremlin's official language council, with the task of rooting the rot out of Russian. "Measures are long overdue," he says.

"It's one thing to borrow words that express economic and cultural changes, but this aggressive Americanisation is quite different."

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