Politeness and ritualisation of leave-taking formulas in contemporary Russian language

Politeness and ritualisation of leave-taking formulas in contemporary Russian language

Farewells are universal speech acts that have not received much attention in cross-cultural empirical studies (Baehren, 2022). Although they are traditionally analysed as being void of propositional content, leave-taking formulas can vary in their conventionality. Moreover, their wording depends on such factors as degree of intimacy, length of contact and expected time apart. Based on the choice of face-enhancing strategies, both parties can express pleasure for being in contact, indicate continuity in the relationship and wish each other well (Ishiraha & Cohen, 2022).

However, politeness formulas in Russian language are mostly listed in dictionaries of speech etiquette based on the authors’ intuitions about pragmatic norms (Balakay, 2001; Formanoskaya, 2002). In the research studies, the variability in verbal behaviour is attributed either to a deliberate deviation from the norm or to the English language influence.

Based on these premises, we wanted to investigate leave-taking formulas which are known and used by Russian native speakers. In total 57 responses were collected.

Firstly, we used a specifically designed DCT which elicited closing moves. Five situations were chosen based on the level of acquaintance and intensity of contact. Secondly, we asked two open questions to gather a pool of words and expressions that respondents usually use when saying goodbye to people they know, and they do not know. The results of the survey suggest a great variability in leave-taking formulas. Conventional routines such as poka (bye-informal) and do svidaniya (goodbye-formal) are enriched by supportive moves. Moreover, we attested that the formula khoroshego dnya/vechera (have) a good day/night), not previously registered in Russian studies on speech etiquette, is addressed mainly to unknown people. Finally, we tested the appropriateness to leave without saying goodbye.

This study provides implications for teaching of conversational routines by promoting metapragmatic reflections on the novelty and conventionality of leave-taking patterns.



Baehren, L. (2022). Saying “goodbye” to the conundrum of leave-taking: a cross-disciplinary Review. Humanit Soc Sci Commun 9(46). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-022-01061-3.

Balakaj, A. (2001). Slovar’ russkogo rechevogo etiketa [Dictionary of Russian speech etiquette]. AstPress.

Formanovskaya, N. (2002). Russkij rechevoj etiket: normativnyj sociokul’turnyj kontekst [Russian speech etiquette: normative sociocultrural context]. Russkij jazyk.

Ishihara, N. & Cohen, A.D. (2022). Teaching and Learning Pragmatics: where Language and Culture Meet, Routledge.

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