How Katyusha Turned into a Gorilla: Children’s Alterations of a Famous Song from a Semiotic Perspective

Key words
children’s folklore, Soviet song, “Katyusha”, parody, irony, grotesque
Maria V. Zavyalova
About the Author
E-mail: Tel.: +7 (495) 938-17-80
32a, Leninskii av., Moscow, 119334, Russian Federation
PhD in Philology, Senior Researcher, Institute of Slavic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences
Date of publication

The research was carried out under the auspices of the grant of the Russian Scientific Foundation No. 22–18–00365, “Semiotic models in cross-cultural space: Balcano-Balto-Slavica” (URL:–18–00365/).


Recently, the study of children’s creativity has been gaining popularity. Anthologies, articles and monographs are published on various genres of children’s folklore. The most studied are such specifically children’s genres as counting rhymes, horror stories, and sadistic verses. Children’s song and poetic folklore — in this case, ironic rhymes and alterations of songs — undeservedly receive little attention. Perhaps the reason lies in the non-specificity of these genres. Ironic parodies are also found in adult subculture, yet children’s parodies are significantly different from adults. Thи article analyzes children’s alterations of the famous Soviet song “Katyusha,” well known to many generations of Russians. Children’s changes are considered in the order of their degree of divergence from the plot and structure of the original. When comparing the variants, some correlation is seen between the character into which Katusha is transformed and the plot of the text. Based on a structural-semiotic analysis, the author concludes that there exists an regular system of changes which at first glance might seem meaningless. This conclusion makes it possible to compare modern children’s creativity with the medieval tradition of laughter, and also to see it as a reflection of universal aspects of human consciousness.


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For citation

Zavyalova M. V. How Katyusha Turned into a Gorilla: Children’s Alterations of a Famous Song from a Semiotic Perspective. Traditional Culture. 2022. Vol. 23. No. 3. Pp. 86–98. In Russian.