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Let's suppose that I am having an argument with someone about how to properly write a Russian word (e.g., прожжёный мошенник vs. прожжённый мошенник) or whether a comma should be put in a certain Russian sentence.

My question is this: How can we find out the ultimate truth to resolve our argument? What book or source should we look in? Or what is the algorithm of finding out the ultimate truth in such arguments?

If I refer to the actual usage as seen in Google and in Google Books, my opponent will say that many Russians are careless and ignorant and write wrongly, including Russian journalists and writers.

If I refer to examples in books by classic Russian writers, my opponent will say that classic Russian writers did not always follow the grammar rules and that the grammar rules have changed.

If I ask a question on gramota.ru, where Russian grammar experts answer grammar-related questions, my opponent will say that the expert may have mistaken because of failing to think deep enough or lacking some specific piece of knowledge.

If I refer to Rozental's book, my opponent will say that it is just the opinion of Rozental, who may well be wrong on the matter we are arguing about, and that the mighty Russian language is not obligated to always follow primitive oversimplified prescriptive rules written by some Jew.

So I need armor-piercing shells. I need something that my opponents won't be able to rebut. I need something as sacred as the Bible. I need a source of ultimate truth. There must be an algorithm to find out the ultimate truth about any grammar question, and I want to find that algorithm. And I humbly hope that the users of this SE can help a desperate Orient student find what she wants.

  • It's not a question about Russian language - even if it's on-topic - which I'm not sure, Language Learners will be a better fit. – shabunc Aug 26 at 12:16
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    There's no ultimate truth, you can read in 2000 references that ложить is incorrect but encounter it in real life. – shabunc Aug 26 at 12:17
  • It looks like your opponent is either extremely stubborn and can't acknowledge his mistake, or just a troll. Rozental is usually considered as a reliable source. If you need just one word, then dictionary search on gramota.ru is also considered very reliable. – Alissa Aug 26 at 12:44
  • Unfortunately, any language is not a pure mathematic structure. You can not have a universal algorithm to resolve such problems you encountered. Allophones, vocal decorations (you know, like 'futon' - > 'zabuton'), parochial vocabularies, Oxford commas, etc., makes our life quite harder. The only advice I can give is to reference to gramota.ru site in disputable cases. – strawdog Aug 26 at 13:53
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    @shabunc well, of course it is about Russian language because what's being asked for is sources of rules for or authority in Russian language, not other language – Баян Купи-ка Aug 26 at 14:00
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There is a regulatory institution for the Russian language --- Vinogradov Institute. Anything decided by it is considered as the current truth and used by all the educational institutes and official organisations. Not only can you look up necessary rules or words from documents linked on their websites, they also have an advisory service: you can phone them and ask a question directly.

Keep in mind that they do update both generic rules and particular words' usages pretty regularly.

Having said that, gramota.ru is maintained by professional linguists (including some from the aforementioned Vinogradov Institute) and I'm yet to find any fault with anything they've said. And their site is much more convenient to use.

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Armor-piercing argument is a spelling dictionary (орфографический словарь) like this - https://gufo.me/
it is the spelling dictionary that has the correct writing standards. But! The Russian language (like many) is very lively, and often changes. If 1000 people write прожжёНый, then it is likely that the descendants will let go of the extra letter for centuries.

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