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Languages and Professions in the “Long” Eighteenth-Century Russia

Coeditors: Igor Fedyukin (High School of Economy, Moscow), Vladislav Rjéoutski (DHI, Moscow)

This special issue is conceived within the framework of a German-Russian research project “The Languages of Diplomacy in Russia in the Eighteenth Century in the European Context” (2022-2024).

The aim of the issue is to explore the linguistic dimension of the emergence of professions in Russia during the “long” eighteenth century. This was a pivotal period prior to the formation of the canon of the Russian literary language, when Russian culture began to experience more diverse and intensive linguistic influences that came primarily from Western Europe and contributed strongly to the formation of professional terminologies and linguistic practices in the “professional” fields in Russia. Studies on the cultural and social use of languages during this period (for example, recent work on French as a language of prestige) focus on the functioning of languages in certain “professions” traditionally exercised by nobles (for example, diplomacy). However, the question of the logic of the choice of languages and, more generally, of linguistic culture is also relevant for other “professions” (sometimes called remeslo, masterstvo or iskusstvo at that time), such as military affairs, medicine, commerce, science, art, etc. This process also has an institutional dimension insofar as languages played a key role in the functioning of institutions (the Academy of Sciences is one of the more obvious examples, but we can also mention colleges or ministries, the Synod, etc.) and were situated at the heart of their mission (in the case of educational establishments for example). So, the Church as an institution and profession naturally also falls within the scope of this issue.

The most important linguistic trend in Europe during this period was the gradual abandonment of Latin in a number of fields and its replacement by vernacular languages, some of which acquire the status of regional or international languages of professional communication. The choice of languages reflects the logic of emergence and development of these professional fields. In Russia, foreign languages or other languages of the Empire were often used alongside Russian. This can be explained, for example, by the presence in certain professional spheres, particularly during the reign of Peter the Great, of a large number of specialists from different European countries or from the Baltic regions annexed by Russia at the beginning of the eighteenth century, but also by the influx of specialized literature in foreign languages. While the role of Western languages in eighteenth-century Russia seems essential, we do not limit the scope of our issue to them only, but rather seek to explore to what extent European languages were, in certain professional fields, in a relationship of competition or complementarity with the languages of Asia.

In this issue we propose to consider professional linguistic practices in a broad social context, including business, social, Masonic, and other interactions that may have influenced language choice and affected language registers in professional correspondence. This is particularly important in the case of professional fields where the aristocracy was strongly represented and where the emerging norms of polite conduct overlapped with the norms and requirements of professional communication, or even came into conflict with them.

We especially invite to participate in this special issue scholars whose work addresses the following topics:

• the use of languages and language registers in different types of communication (official and private, written and, where possible, oral) within emerging professional communities in eighteenth-century Russia;

• language learning practices among different professional groups;

• the influence of the ethnic and social composition of emerging professional communities on the choice of languages in professional communication;

• the replacement by French of other languages in different professional contexts, the conflicts and tensions caused by the adoption of French as the language of professional communication against the backdrop of nascent national consciousness and government’s attempts to implement policies to promote the use of Russian;

• the impact of the choice of languages on the formation of terminology in various fields, from diplomacy and mining to commerce and linguistics.

Titles and abstracts submission deadline: May 15, 2022.

Short project abstracts (500 words maximum) should be sent to: langues_professions_cmr[at]

Please include name, institutional affiliation and email address in all correspondence.

Authors of selected proposals will be notified by June 30, 2022.

Languages: French, English, Russian.

Manuscripts submission deadline: March 15, 2023

Maximum article length: up to approximately 70,000 characters (space characters and notes included).

Evaluation: In accordance with the policies of Cahiers du Monde russe, the articles will be submitted for double-blind peer review by two external referees.

Publication date: first half of 2024.

Coeditors: Vladislav Rjeoutsky, Igor Fedyukin

For additional information, please contact:

Coeditors: Vladislav Rjéoutski, Igor Fedyukin: langues_professions_cmr[at] or redaction: Valérie Mélikian, cmr[at]

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