Language Policy in the Soviet Union (Language Policy) by L.A. Grenoble

By L.A. Grenoble

The previous Soviet Union presents some of the most fascinating examples of a kingdom state's planned use of language coverage to additional its political targets. Language coverage within the Soviet Union offers a finished and up to date evaluate of the advance of this coverage at either nationwide and native degrees. it's intended for linguists, coverage makers, and experts at the USSR and japanese Europe. The booklet is prepared in any such manner that it may be learn in its entirety or selectively, with an advent to the USSR and its ethnolinguistic make-up, via a chronology of Soviet language coverage and its basic improvement. next chapters are equipped domestically, with surveys of the geographic and ethnolinguistic areas of the Soviet Union and a dialogue of language coverage and its impression in every one of them.

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2. CONSTRUCTING NATIONALITIES A fundamental principle underlying the creation of the newly formed Soviet State was the practice of classifying its citizens according to their nationality. Prior to the Soviet period, many of the different peoples saw themselves more in terms of language and religious identities than of ethnic groups, and so this sense of nationality first needed to be constructed, both at an official level and in terms of the population’s consciousness. Suny (1993) argues that viewing not only Soviet nationalism, but also Soviet nationalities, as constructs is useful in providing the advantage of comparison with other constructed social categories, especially class.

Rather, it is the government officials who create the census who determine which nationalities exist, and how minorities are to be classified with INTRODUCTION 31 regard to the mosaic of larger ethnic groups. An alternative approach is to provide respondents with considerably more freedom in their choice of ethnic affiliation and language. The comprehensive list of languages and ethnicities would then be compiled after the results are tabulated. This latter approach would have been more in keeping with the Bolsheviks’ declared goal of fostering self-determination.

The 1989 census cites some 130 different nationalities, with 15,168 listed as “other nationalities” and 17,279 people who did not declare a nationality. This list includes immigrants and indigenous people. It is far from comprehensive and omits over 60 languages. 3); these omissions range from languages which are relatively well-known to Western linguists to others which are lesser known. For example, Tsez, Chamalal and Tindi are all excluded. Over thirty of the languages listed in the Red Book of Languages of the Peoples of Russia (Neroznak 1994) are not included; some of this may be encompassed by the category of “other languages” or where nationality is not declared.

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