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Continued Effects of Russification Latvia and Ukraine. Sarah Beane SLAV 467 November 29, 2007. Language in the USSR. De facto national language in all republics was Russian prior to late 1980s

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Continued effects of russification latvia and ukraine l.jpg

Continued Effects of RussificationLatvia and Ukraine

Sarah Beane

SLAV 467

November 29, 2007

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Language in the USSR

  • De facto national language in all republics was Russian prior to late 1980s

  • Supported the maintenance of local languages, but Russian dominant in all important forms of communication

  • Decline in Russian and increase in use of local languages important for nation building

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Latvia Under USSR

  • Migration patterns changed ethnic composition

    • Many ethnic Russians came in

  • Change in demographics affected language use

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  • During Soviets, Latvian restricted legally to only “culture, education, media, and private life”

  • Knowledge of Russian necessary to perform professionally and socially

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Early Latvian Government

  • Promoting Latvian at expense of Russian

  • Language test for citizenship: discriminatory for Russians

    • Affects Russians – lose job if do not learn Latvian

  • Work/economics very important

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Latvia: “transform linguistically”

  • Demand bilingual Russians

  • Policies may be working

    • Every year since 1992 kids learning Latvian goes up, kids learning Russians goes down

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Protection of Latvian Language

  • 1989 Latvian made official language

  • 1992 after “transition period” Russian lost official language status

  • European organizations influence: integrate minority groups into majority populations

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  • Russians – afraid to lose culture and language

  • Latvians – very anti- Russian

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Russification Effects

  • Trying to prevent extinction and strengthen identities

  • Russians comprised huge minority Latvians feared losing culture and selves

  • Latvians want Russians to leave

    • Expected them to after independence

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Language in Ukraine in the USSR

  • Soviet policies of development helped Ukrainian language and identity...

  • BUT considered Ukraine “a little Russia”

  • Ukrainian thought to be a dialect of Russian

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Soviet Legacies

  • Unification of many territories where Ukrainians were majority population

    • Promoted Ukrainian nation building

  • Large numbers of ethnic Russians migrated in

    • Large numbers of Ukrainians became bilingual

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Regional Differences

  • One of the factors hindering development of national identity

  • Eastern – industrial, Russification was the strongest

  • Western – rural, far less Russified and remained fairly Ukrainian

  • Soviet policies fostered internal disunity between East and West

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  • State with a not well developed structure

  • Strong identity with the territory of the former Ukrainian SSR

    • Country united for independence in 1991

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Alexander Motyl

  • “For all its vicissitudes, it did endow Ukraine with a linguistically coherent population that resembled a nation, a set of political activists who resembled an elite and an administration that resembled a state.”

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Russian Perception of Ukraine

  • Majority of Russians, Belarusians, and 1/3 Ukrainians think branches of one Russian people

    • Thus Ukrainian independence is artificial and temporary

  • May 1997 finally recognized Ukraine’s borders

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  • Titular groups divided by language

    • Linguistic lines between Ukrainian and Russian speakers

  • Large proportion bilingual

  • Russian identity based on language and culture

    • Russian nation sometimes associated with speakers

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Contemporary Policies

  • Exclusionary language policy

    • Reaction to Russification

    • Ukrainian held higher than Russian

  • Divisiveness between Russian and Ukrainian overriding theme of language situation

  • Russia angry at policies to support and prop up Ukrainian at the expense of Russian

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Comparisons Between Latvia and Ukraine

  • Postcommunist governments trying to assert their titular language over the previously dominant Russian

  • Russian still more prevalent than native language

  • Western Ukraine more similar to Baltic states than East Ukraine

  • Education used to promote language

  • Latvia rejects Soviet history more so than Ukraine does

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  • Mostly, the implications of Russification are so important because language is such an integral part of identity. Recognizing this, both Latvia, Ukraine, and the former Soviet Union used and use it as a tool to create national unity, which is necessary for political, economic, or social goals.

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Works Cited

  • “BBC Education – Languages.” <> (11/26/07).

  • “CIA – The World Factbook.” <> (11/26/07).

  • Ciscel, Matthew, Richard Hallett, Angie Green. “Language Attitudes and Identity in the European Republics of the Former USSR.” Texas Linguistic Forum.44.1 (2000): 48-61.

  • Kuzio, Taras. “National Identity and Democratic Transition in Post-Soviet Ukraine and Belarus (Part 1).” Eastern European Perspectives. 14.15 (2002): 1-15.

  • Kuzio, Taras. “National Identity and Democratic Transition in Post-Soviet Ukraine and Belarus (Part 2).” Eastern European Perspectives. 14.16 (2002): 1-13.

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Works Cited, cont.

  • Kuzio, Taras. “Ukraine: Coming to Terms with the Soviet Legacy”Journal of Communist and Transition Politics. 14.4 (1998): 1-27.

  • Romanov, Arteml. “The Russian Diaspora in Latvia and Estonia: Predicting Language Outcomes.” Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. 21.1 (2000): 58-71.

  • Silova, Iveta. “The Manipulated Consensus: Globalisation, Local Agency, and Cultural Legacies in Post-Soviet Education Reform.” European Educational Research Journal. 1.2 (2002): 308-330.

  • Zepa, Brigita. “Citizenship, Official Language, Bilingual Education in Latvia: Public Policy in the Last 10 Years.” Baltic States: Looking at Small Societies on Europe’s Margin. Ed. C. Giordano, A. Žvinkliene, D. Henseler. Switzerland, University Press Fribourg, 2003. 83-97.

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