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I read in Wiktionary:

чорт

This spelling of the word was officially abolished in 1956 in favor of чёрт and is no longer in use. Both variants are pronounced identically.

(Source)

I see in Ngram Google Books that it was indeed common before 1956 to write чорт in books.

Wikipedia says that in Belorussian and Ukrainian, this word is still spelt as чорт.

The new spelling, чёрт, has a disadvantage: if the dots over е are omitted as usual, the word becomes indistinguishable in writing from the plural genitive of the Russian word черта (line, trait, feature).

What was the motivation to officially abolish the spelling чорт in favor of чёрт in 1956? Could it be that someone superstitious wanted to save Russians from explicitly referring to devils and thought that replacing o by ё/e would do the trick to keep black powers at bay?

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    I would guess it's to standardize the spelling. Russian doesn't really have any words with чо left, I think only чокнутый. Чёрный, чёрствый, чёлка, чёткий, чёрточка , etc all use чё. Ukrainian still uses чо as far as I know, such as in the city Чоронобиль (Chernobyl), but not Russian. – Curiosity Sep 22 at 12:27
  • @Curiosity : What about чопорный? – Mitsuko Sep 22 at 12:33
  • I guess that if it had been just standardization, people would now write чёкнутый и чёпорный. – Mitsuko Sep 22 at 12:35
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    По современным нормам — черт (чёрт). После шипящих в корнях слов под ударением вместо "о" пишется "ё", если при изменении слова или образовании родственного слова в этом корне появляется "е". Можно изменить так, чтобы появилась "е"? Можно: черти. Значит, "ё". – Curiosity Sep 22 at 13:12
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    Curiosity, could you make it an answer? Don't leave it in comments. Черт -черти—чертенок. – V.V. Sep 22 at 13:19
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Before the standardization both forms, черт/чёрт and чорт were in actual use, like we see from this google ngram chart:

enter image description here

(Strictly speaking, we should sort out черт derived from черта but this won't change the very fact that both form co-existed.)

In Russian grammar there's a concept called проверочные слова - in short it's about existence of words that are pronounced and/or spelled in such way that we justify the spelling of some other word. When it comes to чёрт, the one form has been chosen over another and the actual reason was that there's a lot of words with черт (но ё) - чертовской, чертяка, чертыхаться, чертёнок and choosing чёрт was a very natural and intuitive thing to do.

With чопорный we do not have any similar situation, basically it's only чопорный so it was left the way it is (well, in Russian it used to be words like чепори́ться, чепу́ри́ться but they are obsolete). As of чокнутый by the way people quite often misspell is a чёкнутый and that usage in its turn lead to the existence of word чекану́тый.

Still, just like always I want to insist that it's more an issue of memoization than anything else. For instance, there is чёрствый, not чорствый and one just should learn it.

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    Чепуриться --казачий диалект, чепурной, до сих пор действующее слово, как разговорное. – V.V. Sep 22 at 15:31
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    Черствый --черстветь, так же, как черный - -чернеть. Правило вроде действует. – V.V. Sep 22 at 17:49
  • Чопорный--чопорность. – V.V. Sep 22 at 19:20
  • @V.V. чопорность не считается - там ударение там же, остальные примеры да! – shabunc Sep 23 at 10:43
  • Берите себе, я просто помогаю, чем могу. – V.V. Sep 23 at 14:37
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What was the motivation to officially abolish the spelling чорт in favor of чёрт in 1956?

Definitely it was NOT officially abolished from the language. The official direction of language politics in USSR was to remove any occurence of Ё letter.

I think чёрт started to appear since 1900s years effectively pushing off old word чорт. General sentiment was to disapprove the policy of Russian Csar Nikolai II, during his late terms or ruling. Right after he lost Russian-Japaneese war of 1905. Especially during his "business engagements" with Rasputin.

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    this answer is wrong and not backed by any evidence. – shabunc Sep 24 at 20:23
  • @shabunc А в 1956 году только подтвердили откат имевших место ранее ошибочных изменений по "искоренению Ё". Все причины чисто политические, язык не меняется "туда-сюда" в рамках каких-то там тридцати лет. – sanaris Sep 24 at 21:39

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