Baltic accent

2020 Vol. 11 №4

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History of the words starina and starik as terms of friendship in Russian



This article explores when and under what circumstances the words starik and starina emerged as terms of friendship in standard Russian language. These terms were often used by male characters in the prose of the Khrushchev Thaw — students, scientists, and engineers. It was initially assumed that these words had become forms of address at that time. Analysis of data from the Russian National Corpus shows that these terms of friendship date back earlier than that. Starik was used to address a male friend in the 19th century and starina in the 1920s—30s. Decades apart, the two words started to function as terms of friendship in a very similar way. Both were used at first to address an elderly stranger. At some point, they turned into means of language play and speech stylisation to finally lose their connection to folk speech and the semantics of age. The first one to complete the transformation was the word starina. As to starik, it apparently began to be used as a term of friendship in lan­guages of groups.


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