JOPOL 4(2021)

On the Soviet Post-Soviet “Otherness”:
Caucasians, “Khachs”, and “Khachics” in Russian Nationalistic Internet Memes

Suren Zolyan

The dissolution of the USSR creates new realities, new identities, and new attitudes. However, as usually happens, in the naming of the new phenomena, the old names have been transformed and now are used with quite other meanings. The ways in which lexical items are semiotically transformed can be used as a clue to the elucidation of radical social and cultural changes. This is what happens when linguistic semantics is complemented by the methods of sociolinguistics and cultural anthropology. We aim to demonstrate how the most burning social issues (xenophobia, migration, extremism) are reflected in the history and current usage of the newly coined “Russian” (originally Armenian) supra-ethnic slurs –“khachs” and “khachics.” We consider the processes of transformation of the concept of “Caucasians” in modern Russian non-formal ultra-nationalistic discourse, and its semantics and pragmatics.

Keywords: “Other”, Caucasians, Armenians in Russia, khach, khachik, supra-ethnic slurs, internet memes, They met in Moscow, Mimino, Russian extremist discourse