Hate Speech and Church Slavonic Literature: Towards the History of the Editing of Liturgical Books in Russia (19th–20th centuries)

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Leading Researcher
Affiliation: V.V. Vinogradov Russian Language Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences
Address: Russian Federation,
Journal nameSlavianovedenie
EditionIssue 2

The article describes the history of eliminating words and expressions which are offensive to non-Christians from liturgical books. It shows that the reasons for such corrections were primarily diplomatic and political in nature. Thus, harsh characteristics of sultans and other political figures were removed from the liturgical books addressed to the Slavs living on the territory of the Ottoman Empire. The reason for such editing was the discontent of the Ottoman Empire authorities. Similarly, the displeasure of the representatives of the St. Petersburg Armenian community prompted a softening of the anti-Armenian passages. Words and expressions belonging to the language of enmity were eliminated from church books. Words with the жидroot were removed, disrespectful and offensive characteristics of non-Christians were tempered. Such editing could have taken place hand in hand with the appearance of new liturgical texts which contained very harsh descriptions of non-Christians. Thus, a service to Gabriel of Bialystok composed at the beginning of the 20th century does not feature vocabulary with the жид- (zhid-)root, but clearly contains the «blood libel» topic. The rejection of pejorative linguistic characteristics is therefore no indication of a change in attitude towards dissidents and non-Christians.

KeywordsChurch Slavonic, Hate Speech, liturgical texts, xenophobia, Russian Church History, interfaith relations, Metropolitan Filaret (Drozdov).
Publication date30.04.2023
Number of characters43036
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