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Names forms in Russian

In the Russian language different names forms can be derived from a full forename: hypocoristic and rude one. It is important to sense when it is appropriate to use either of these forms. The usage of hypocoristic form means that a speaker experiences good emotions towards a person he/she speaks about. For example, when parents call their child or sweethearts tenderly call each other. Nevertheless, most depends on a social circle and intonation. If we use a hypocoristic form in the family circle or among friends – it has most often positive meaning. If we call an unfamiliar or public person in this way, it can convey the meaning of mockery or disrespect.

A number of hypocoristic names is great. They are formed by means of suffixes: -очк-, -ечк-, -оньк-, -еньк-, -ушк-, -юшк-, -ик- and others. For instance, a masculine name Ваня [Vanya] (Иван [Ivan]) by means of suffixes can have the following forms: Ванечка [Vanichka], Ванюша [Vanyusha]. A feminine name Света [Sveta] (Светлана [Svitlana]) transforms into: Светочка [Svetachka], Светик [Svetik].

Every form has its emotional connotation which is difficult to explain in theory. A choice of hypocoristic form depends on feelings and emotions experienced by a speaker. It can be: tenderness, love, interest, irony, gaiety, a desire of making fun of somebody.

If you are talking with little known or unknown person, it is undesirable to use a hypocoristic form of name. If you say to an unfamiliar girl "Машка" [Mashka], it would be quite rude of you.

Let's look, who and how can we call a girl by name of "Мария".

Мария [Mariya]. So can say unfamiliar people, colleagues and children. Often adults and senior people address this way a child or a young girl, when they want to emphasize that they consider her as a grown-up, expect a grown-up behaviour. Often teachers call this way their students, sometimes – pupils.

Мария Ивановна [Mariya Ivanovna]. We use a patronymic name within name in order to emphasize our respect. We call this way colleagues, senior people; children call this way grown-ups, youth – senior relatives, unfamiliar people (if they have introduced themselves this way)

Маша [Masha] – acquaintances and friends call her this way. Other people can use this name, if a girl has introduced herself like this or offer: "Можно просто Маша" (You can call me just Masha).

Машутка [Mashutka], Манюня [Manyunya], Манечка [Manechka], Маруся [Marusya], Маня [Manya]. She can be called this way by her close friends, relatives or other people, if she has introduced herself so or asked to call like this.

Russians use a wide range of name forms with a great pleasure, that is why you can hear in a spoken language how a young man by name of Дмитрий [Dmitriy] is called: Дима [Dima], Димка [Dimka], Димочка [Dimachka], Димон [Dimon] and so on.

According as people call each other, you can judge their relationships.

A rude form of a name is formed with suffix –к-: Коля [Kolya] (Николай [Nikalay]) — Колька [Kol'ka].

Most often such form of address means disrespect and disregard. Thus, a student will never call his/her teacher as Петька [Pet'ka] – but Пётр Иванович [Pyotr Ivanovich]. However, a rude form is accepted among friends and relatives. If people in a company are equal in their social status and age, the usage of names Васька [Vas'ka], Колька [Kol'ka], Петька [Pet'ka], Машка [Mashka], Дашка [Dashka] does not have a negative connotation.

Rude forms are also formed with suffixes:–х-, -ах-, -ух-, -юх-, -ин-, -ян-.

Лёша (Алексей) – Лёха [Lyosha (Aleksey) – Lyoha].
Наташа (Наталья) – Натаха [Natasha (Natal'ya) – Nataha].
Таня (Татьяна) – Танька, Танюха [Tanya (Tat'yana) – Tan'ka, Tanyuha].

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