Influence of hashtag on formation of new phraseological units in political journalism of online media

Influencia del hashtag sobre la formación de nuevas frases hechas en el periodismo político en línea

Elena Tomášková (Institute of Technology and Business in České Budějovice)

Artículo recibido: 21-12-2016 | Artículo aceptado: 04-03-2017

RESUMEN: El artículo analiza las nuevas frases hechas en el contexto del periodismo político en línea caracterizadas por la escritura específica, o sea las palabras que forman la frase hecha se escriben en un conjunto, sin espacios. Se supone que este tipo de escritura apareció bajo la influencia de hashtags, para los que este tipo de escritura es muy típico. Las innovaciones fraseológicas de este tipo forman una parte de juego lingüístico en el periodismo en línea y no son típicas para los periódicos impresos. Las nuevas o innovadas frases hechas caracterizadas por la escritura de las palabras en un solo conjunto se usan con el objetivo de aumentar la expresividad y el carácter emotivo del texto.
ABSTRACT: The paper investigates new phraseological units in political journalism of online media, which are characterized by fused writing of words that make up the phraseme. It is assumed that this kind arose under the influence of hashtags in which, as a rule, some words are written without spaces. Phraseological innovations of this kind are part of the language game in journalism of online media, as they currently are not so typical for printed newspapers. The main purpose of using neophraseme with fused writing of words is to increase the text expressiveness and emotionality.

PALABRAS CLAVE: Modismo, innovadas frases hechas, hashtag, periodismo político, medios de internet
KEY WORDS: Idiom, neophraseme, phraseological innovation, hashtag, political journalism, Internet media

The scientific study was created during the project No. 201609 of the Internal Grant Competition at the Institute of Technology and Business in České Budějovice.

Modern political journalism is the source of the active emergence and fixing of new phraseological units in language. This concerns, first of all, the segment of Internet media, because due to the efficiency the electronic media more flexibly react to speech innovation. In addition, important factor is minimizing the editorial text processing in online media – author (journalist or blogger) feels freer than journalist, writing for print media, that promotes a more active use of new speech units (including phraseological units), up to the slang words and colloquialisms. As rightly observes known phraseologist V. Mokienko «phraseological slang, due to the generational change, emancipation of our society and the efficiency of the media and the Internet, quickly transformed into international slang words and pouring into the general stream of new codified speech» (2012: 61).

The tendency to expand the journalism vocabulary due to language means, marginalized for a literary form, among other typical features of the modern media language, identifies E. Zemskaya (1996), who indicates that censorship and self-censorship are crumbling and wish to develop new means of verbal expression, new forms of imagery appears.

The foregoing creates new challenges for the phraseology – from the frontal collection of the material to its systematization and fixation in dictionaries, emphasizes V. Mokienko. In this aspect, it is significant the theoretical and practical research of the scientist «New Russian phraseology» in which a classification and interpretation of new phraseological units are presented, for its characteristics the author uses capacious and exact term – phraseological innovations (Mokienko, 2003).

This concept has a different definition in modern phraseology. For example, E. Ganapolskaya (2012: 152) defines innovation as phraseological idioms (outside the separation of language and speech, occasional), which are new either in form or in meaning, either in form and meaning together for the considered period of literary language development with respect to the foregoing, conventionally taken as point of reference period (outside the direct relationship, while taking into account the vocabulary fixations).

Grigorash (2014: 104) calls phraseology innovation as speech reaction (including the journalists’ reaction), fixed in writing form and embodied in stable expressions, to all the new things that happens in different spheres of public life: politics, economics, culture, sports, and so on. According to the researcher, as modern life in many forms momentary, it is always difficult to determine what stable phrase will take its rightful place in the memory of society and thereby becomes the property of language, in particular – its idiomatic fund. However, it is phraseological innovations that produce the most complete picture of the political, social and cultural trends of the modern period of society development, so a huge reservoir of stable combinations requires constant fixing, study and analysis.

The phraseological innovations include new rather productive group of phraseological units, which emerged in journalistic style of the online media under the influence of the network language. It is about stable expressions in which some words are written as one word, for example, Krymnash, ihtamnet, etc. This group is the subject of this study, the aim of which is to analyze these idiomatic innovations, the study of their functional characteristics, as well as factors that influence their occurrence. We believe that the shape of these neophraseme influenced hashtags.

Hashtag – a word or phrase in the network communication, which is preceded by the # symbol. Hashtags make it possible to group the messages in order to facilitate the search and improve its efficiency. Hashtags, consisting of several words, begins with the # symbol, and then the words without spaces, for example, well-known among the Russian-speaking users in the social network Instragram hashtag # mirdolzhenznatchtoyaem.

Hashtags quickly gained popularity around the world due to the functionality and ease of use. Suffice it to recall the fact that the American Dialect Society has given the Twitter-inspired term a boost by christening «hashtag» the word of the year. The decision came at the society’s annual meeting in Boston over the weekend, where more than 250 linguists, lexicographers, grammarians, historians and other word maniacs weighed the relative merits of terms like «fiscal cliff», «Gangnam style», and «marriage equality». In the main category, «hashtag» emerged as something of a dark-horse winner, edging out «fiscal cliff» and «marriage equality» (which took most likely to succeed honors), despite not being on the official list of nominees, as Ben Zimmer, the chairman of the society’s new words committee, noted in a rundown of the action: «This was the year when the hashtag became a ubiquitous phenomenon in online talk. In Twitter and other sites hashtags have created instant social trends, spreading messages on topics ranging from politics to pop culture», Mr. Zimmer said in a statement (Schuessler, 2013).

Polylexeme hashtags with the lack of spaces between words, in our view, influenced the writing neophraseme in political journalism, determining the emergence and active functioning of the phraseological innovations like onizhedeti or putinslil in the language of the Internet media.

It is important to note that the graphical features (fused spelling), formally giving to phraseme the form of the lexeme, in our view, do not change the belonging of such language units to idioms, as they have the typological features of phraseological units allocated V. Mokienko (1986: 5): relative stability, reproducibility in finished form, expressiveness and integrated meaning.

Phraseological units with fused writing of words now became a common fact of journalistic use. They, in spite of its unusual shape, require linguistic analysis and «tolerant approach» as well formulated V. Mokienko (2012: 61).

Material for analysis are publications on the political topics of the Ukrainian and Russian Internet media, online versions of print media and news channels sites for the 2014-2016 years. Basically, for the analysis the titles of journalistic materials are selected.

One of the most well-known idiomatic innovations of this kind has become neophraseme Krymnash that emerged in the spring of 2014 in the context of social and political debate about the annexation of Crimea to the Russian Federation from the slogan «Crimea is ours!» (Vepreva, 2015). One of Krymnash meanings can be defined as «the pride for the country after the annexation of Crimea, bordering on euphoria». This can be seen clearly in the following fragments of journalistic texts: But today, two years later, we can say right – «Krymnash» deeply lodged in the national consciousness, though it is still poorly identified by people and researchers («Policy», 2016), The Kremlin’s dilemma: «Krymnash» or cancellation of sanctions? (Crimea. Realities, 2016), Charge for «krymnash» began: North Siberia awaits its heroes (Observer, 2016).

An interesting material in the aspect of the topic of research represents the article of well-known Ukrainian political expert Olesya Yahno with the title Krymnash and the Crimea is our. In the context of the civil blockade (Ukrainian Truth, 2015). The author uses a dual neophraseme writing to emphasize the difference with regard of Russia and Ukraine to the Crimea. Text is also interesting because it containes the interpretation of the expression: «Krymnash» already beginning to exhaust itself as a way of «political agitation» and the mobilization (Ukrainian Truth, 2015). In the next article on this subject with the title Putin’ illusions about «Krymnash» Olesya Yahno calls Krymnash «propaganda meme» (Ukrainian Truth, 2016).

The second semantic component of neophraseme is «Crimea, annexed by the Russian Federation» with a negative connotation. It is understood that life in Crimea is rapidly deteriorating: Krymnash turned into a kind of garbage (Сensoru.NET, 2015), «Krymnash» before stripping (TSN, 2016).

Almost simultaneously with the appearance of Krymnash the antonymous unit namkrysh with meaning «political and economic losses after the Russian annexation of Crimea» arose: «Namkrysh»: life and stuff, and the country is the same – Russian (Observer, 2014).  Neophraseme Namkrysh based on a pun – a close phonetic composition of Krymnash and Russian idiom nam kryshka (literally it is cover to us) that has a meaning of «dead end to us».

Quite often in journalistic materials that antonymous pair used simultaneously, as demonstrated by the following headlines: Russian human rights activist: when the epic «krymnash» began, I had a feeling that «namkrysh» (Crimea. Realities, 2014), After the «Krymnash» comes «namkrysh» (Antikor, 2015), KRYMNASH – NAMKRYSH: How the thoughts of Russians changed in 2014 (, 2015), Crimea without tourists: «NamKrysh» instead of «KrymNash» (Ukraine Crime, 2015), Results of the year. Way from Krymnash to Namkrysh (Ukrainian Truth, 2015). In this case, a pair of antonymous Krymnash – Namkrysh has the semantics of «euphoria gives way to disappointment» and never better illustrates the thesis of Russian phraseologist A. Melerovich that inner form of idiom is a tool of phraseological picture of the world of certain language (Melerovich, 2011: 34).

Next neophraseme onizhedeti originated from the phrase of Ukrainian MP Inna Bogoslovskaya «What are you doing? They are children!» after the crackdown of the students on the Maidan in late 2013. Idiom got meaning «unreasonable justification cruel and socially dangerous behavior by age», as it later became clear, there were armed and aggressive people among students. The expression semantics reveals a quote from the article titled «Onizhedeti …», published in the newspaper «Today»: «So, if the government and its supporters, then they are bandits, «organisms» – in a word, subhuman. And if nationalists – then they are heroes, «knights», in the worst case, if they are guilty, or fall under the hand – «onizhedeti»…» (Today, 2014).

Idiom onizhedeti is usually used in cases when it is necessary to emphasize the contradiction between the crime brutality and the attempt to justify it; it can be seen in the following examples of titles: «Onizhedeti» of dead Odessa. Girls, who pours a Molotov cocktail that people were burned alive, deleted their accounts on the network, but the police are not looking for them (Moscow Komsomol, 2014), «Onizhedeti»: in Donetsk People’s Republic the teenager diversionary-intelligence group of Security Service of Ukraine was defused (Russian Spring, 2016), Onizhedeti. No one was surprised with the story of the night robbery of Kiev refueling that had resulted in a bloody tragedy (Russian Truth, 2016).

It should be noted that the idiom is used not only in connection with the Ukrainian events. For example the title of the Moldavian edition: «Onizhedeti»: who benefits from the tents of young unionists in the center of Chisinau (, 2016).

By analogy with onizhedeti the phraseological unit onazhemat’ (she is mother) with similar meaning of «unreasonable justification of cruel and socially dangerous behavior by motherhood» is created. We can find in the article by Dmitry Seleznev «Onazhemat’» such passage: «Any meanness, any claims to the man, to the state, to any people can be reasonable and justified by “onazhemat’”» (Maskulist, 2014). In 2016 idiom was used extensively in the media in relation to the scandal with the airline «Victory», whose personnel refused to change places for couples with a child: «Onazhemat’». Supporters of the «Victory» quarreled with the defenders of the divided family (Medialeaks, 2016), «Onazhemat’» against «Victory Airlines» (, 2016), «Onazhemat’» pay on board (, 2016).

Neophraseme putinslil emerged from numerous newspaper headlines of materials devoted to the military conflict in the Donbass, in which Putin’s strategy was considered. The verb «slivat’» (to pour) in the Russian slang has meaning «to betray». For example, media headlines: Closing or invention: whether Putin «poured» Novorossia? (Observer 2014), Saakashvili explained why Putin «poured» Novorossia (Glavred, 2015), Putin «poured» Novorossia: in the ranks of the militants the panic was started because of the statements of Lavrov (, 2016), Putin «poured» Novorossia (Observer, 2016). As a result, a stable expression putinslil having semantics «Putin betrayed and left without help» was formed. So, in the publication of media «Russian Truth» we can read: «I, like many of my colleagues have already a little tired of the endless whining «putinslil» (Russian Truth, 2016). In contrast putinslil antonymous expression hitryyplanPutina (Putin’s cunning plan) or HPP for short appeared. The neophraseme has meaning «Putin only pretends to concede, and indeed he will win»: So, «Putinslil» or yet «Hitryyplan»? (Sight, 2016), HPP – HitryyplanPutina!? (Pandora’s Box, 2016), Notorious «multipass game» or why the term «HitryyplanPutina» annoys me (Cont, 2015).

The expression ihtamnet (they are not there) occurred after Putin’s answer to the question whether there are Russian troops in the Donbass. The phrase became famous instantly. At first, it was used in the traditional writing (varied only use the quotes): «They are not there». The Western media have called four reasons why it is necessary to debunk the lies Putin (Сenzor.Net, 2016), They are not «there»: the facts of presence of more than 50 Russian officers in the Donbass are made public (, 2016), «They are not there» – more 150 Russian military men of anti-aircraft missile division arrived at the Donbass (, 2016), They are not there. Trump says that Putin has nothing to do with the events in Ukraine (Public People, 2016).

However, later neophraseme entrenched in a fused writing, maintaining the meaning of «Putin’s negation of Russian troops presence»: «Ihtamnet»: the photo proofs of Putin’s army aggressive invasion at the Donbass are published (, 2016), Ihtamnet: OSCE General Secretary could not confirm the presence of Russian troops in the Donbass (, 2016), Full ihtamnet. Crimean sketches (Without taboos, 2016), «Ihtamnet»: Warsaw has known how the Kremlin «seconded» to Poland 20 thousands spies (Observer, 2016), «Ihtamnet»: volunteers identified the Russian contractor, who fought in the Donbass (Observer, 2016). As you can see, the headlines of various media are built on a common pattern: Putin’s statement, and then (after a colon or point) facts testifying the opposite. Such structure actualizes the contradiction between the two parts of the title, increasing its expressivity.

It is important to note that the expression ihtamnet proved productive, because it formed the lexeme with a meaning «Russian military, secretly involved in operations on the territory of another country»: Impressionable «ihtamnets» flee from the position (News Resistance, 2016), The destiny of «ihtamnet». Tonight our military again caught «ihtamnets» (Line of Defense, 2016).

The title IHTAMNET. Question to Kremlin experts: where else IHNEBUDET (They will not be)? (East fairway, 2016) attracted the attention of a language game, based on the change in the time and form of the verb and containing an allusion to the fact that the situation ihtamnet can be repeated.

In this regard, it should be emphasized that many neophrasemes with fused writing of words are, in our view, an element of the language game, typical for modern journalism. Bulgarian linguist L. Tsoneva, defining language game as the intentional, conscious, deliberate deviation from the norm of speech, tells that the game in journalistic style and especially the role of the game in it now are actual philological tasks. The game, according to L. Tsoneva (2014: 308), is an important means to create expressiveness, which determines shape of a new communication strategy of journalism. The author emphasizes the intensification of game elements in serious analytical genres, previously «impenetrable» for phenomena of this type.

Such intensification the game elements in political journalism in order to increase the text expressiveness and emotionality can explain the use of the popular hashtags by authors, such as in the article of the known Ukrainian blogger Kira Berestenko «The housing problem in a new way»: «Maybe it was necessary to not work, but simply believe and want? As now somebody believe in Bezviz, Vesmirsnami and Zhitponovomu?» (Sight, 2016). Bezviz is abbreviation of «visa-free regime», Vesmirsnami (the whole world with us) is phrase of Petr Poroshenko, Zhitponovomu (to live in a new way) is a slogan of his party alliance. Usually quote of Ukrainian President Petr Poroshenko and the slogan of his campaign use in journalism (even in the online media segment) in a separate writing, for example: In Kiev the myth of «the whole world is with us» is sadly dispelled: Ukraine for most countries simply does not exist (Antifascist, 2016), Live in a new way will be in 3-5 years: Groisman announced economic breakthrough (TSN, 2016). In her article, Kira Berestenko consciously uses neophraseme in the hashtags form (i.e. without spaces), referring to the target audience, familiar with the information grouped in Internet communication (Twitter, Instagram and other social networks) under these tags.


Thus, we can conclude that neophrasemes in which word by analogy with the hashtag written together, became the specific feature of today’s journalistic style. Especially popular they are in the online media. This form of idiomatic innovation is part of the language game, to which the authors resorted in order to improve the text emotionality and expressiveness. It should be added that the use of neophrasemes without spaces (that is reminiscent of hashtags) promotes awareness of phraseological unit – the author appeals to the reader’s presuppositions, his experience of communication in certain thematic groups of popular social networks. We can assume that there will be a growing trend in the near future in the online media to use neophrasemes with this form of writing, as well as their gradual penetration in the print media

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