Diminutive words as social index: “put your masky on” and “get the cary”


The article discusses how the use of diminutives in modern Russian communicative practice becomes a marker of social typification and socially significant characteristics of a person/group of persons. When using diminutive forms of a word, there is an obvious asymmetry between the semantics and pragmatics of a linguistic unit. It is revealed that diminutives are of research interest in connection with the additional meanings that arise when expressing the meaning of small size, namely subjective, evaluative meanings in relation to the subject of the message and to its addressee. The trend towards the use of diminutive suffixes in everyday and internet communication has made diminutives a significant object for observing the social typification behind the linguistic choices. Theoretically and analytically, the present research is based on modern approaches in discourse analysis, sociolinguistics, metapragmatics, and takes into account the explanatory charge of the conception of social indexality and social meaning that are manifested and become visible in discourse in the process of contextualization of linguistic units. The notion of social meaning in relation to the pragmatics of diminutive words provides a significant research perspective in the analysis of individuals making linguistic choices in communicative activity and of their social positioning.