Pragmaticalization mechanisms in the history of the Russian farewell formula sčastlívo!

2021. №1, 70-83

Marina A. Bobrik
Vinogradov Russian Language Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia;


The present article intends to reconstruct the history of the Russian farewell formula sčastlívo. I show that its emergence and evolution are due to both the action of language-internal mechanisms (pragmaticalization) and the influence of foreign language samples. The formula sčastlívo has a colloquial origin and, one might think, does not immediately fall into the written language: the first examples in the Russian National Coprus date back to the 1830s. Syntactic incompleteness and relatively low social status led to the late standardization of the formula: for the first time it is recorded in the dictionary edited by D. N. Ushakov (1935–1940). The prehistory of discursive expressions with the adverb sčastlivo is connected with the sphere of diplomatic and court etiquette of the 15th — beg. 18th century, in which of great importance was Polish and southwestern Russian influence. The article further examines the mechanisms of pragmaticalization which, during the course of historical evolution, make possible the formation of an independent discursive unit. Two such mechanisms are singled out: compression and analogy. Compression means that the formulaic expression is reduced to one word, which preserves the meaning of the original whole. Situationally sčastlívo can replace a number of etiquette formulas containing this adverb in the old meaning ‘successful, good, safe’. The evolution of two such formulas — živí(te) sčástlívo and sčastlívo ostavát’sja — is examined in detail. In general, the focus is on the dynamic aspects of use: semantic, accentual, sociolinguistic changes in discursive formulas, their French and German parallels. The mechanism of analogy presupposes the association of the formula sčastlivo with isomorphic and pragmatically close formulas, primarily with the old colloquial greeting zdoróvo.

For citation:

Bobrik M. A. Pragmaticalization mechanisms in the history of Russian farewell formula sčastlívo! Voprosy Jazykoznanija, 2021, 1: 70–83.


The paper is supported by Russian Science Foundation (project No. 19-012-00505).