The genre of “letter to the newspaper” in the 1920s in the Soviet Union and in emigration (based on request letters)

2013. № 1 (25), 158-182

Elena A. Nikishina, Higher School of Economics


The article analyzes the genre of request letters to newspapers in the Soviet Union and in emigration. As the data show, the manner of realization of the illocutionary purpose and the choice of the topic discussed in the letter are determined by several factors, such as the socio-cultural context of the communication, the level of knowledge of the literary language and the social status of the author, as well as other factors. The pattern of description of the genre adopted in the article includes five parameters: 1) illocutionary purpose; 2) text structure; 3) topic; 4) properties of author and addressee; 5) linguistic properties. It is demonstrated that the language mechanisms used in request letters to newspapers differ in several respects from those occurring in requests in other spheres of communication. For instance, the imperative verb form, which is frequent in oral requests, occurs very rarely in request letters. At the same time, the genre under analysis is realized differently in the Soviet Union and in emigration.