Baltic accent

2020 Vol. 11 №4

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Historical perspective on the word gospoda as a form of address



Using the method of corpus analysis, this article explores the history of the Russian hon­orific gospoda and related forms of address: damy i gospoda, gospoda-tovarischi, and other noun-noun and adjective-noun collocations (gospoda publika uvažaemye gospoda). It draws on examples from literature to demonstrate that although, contrary to popular belief, the honorific damy i gospoda is not a neologism of the end of the 20th century, it was mar­ginal to pre-revolutionary speech. It is also shown that, albeit rarely, the word gospoda was used before the Russian Revolution to address a mixed company. Abandoned after the Revolu­tion, the honorific underwent a revival in the second half of the 20th century when it was used more often to address a mixed company than it had been in tsarist times. Probably, this was accounted for by extra-linguistic factors. Special attention is given to the use of the honorific gospoda in periods of transition: at the beginning and end of the Soviet era and after the collapse of the USSR.


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