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Article

Беларусь vs. Белоруссия: структура одного лингвополитического конфликта в социальных медиа

Сомин А. А., Полий А. А.

This paper studies different aspects of a linguo-political conflict concerned with choosing between two Russian toponymic variants – Belorussia and Belarus’ as well as adjectives belorusskij (Belorussian) and belarus(s)kij (Belarusian) and ethnonyms belorus and belarus. The core of the problem is that in the Russian language of Russia the variant Belorussia is used, which is considered to be insulting by many Belarusians, who prefer to use the variant Belarus while speaking Russian. In an attempt to understand the structure of this conflict, we analyze how and why the toponym Belarus appeared and spread through the newspapers of 1990-s, study the data from two online polls and the distribution of some words derived from the two toponymic variants, and finally discuss the scenarios of conflict communication in discussions in various social media. One of the polls shows the social distribution of the two toponymic variants and the other examines the attitude of the Belarusians towards the toponym Belorussia and its derivates. We show that each side of the conflict has its own limited set of ideas that reappear in conflict communication in comments under different articles on the Internet.