Linguistic rights

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Re: Linguistic rights

Postby Sol Invictus » 2012-01-26, 2:52

hlysnan wrote:
JackFrost wrote:That could still engender hostility with the Russian speakers complaining that some Tatars are refusing to learn Russian by not taking Russian courses.

I don't see why Russian speakers would be upset if Tatars don't take up Russian in school. We're talking about people living in Tatarstan.

There might, though, be Tatars upset that Russians don't learn Tatar

linguoboy wrote:
Sol Invictus wrote:If by immersion + bilingual schools you mean that Russian kids would be thrown into Tatar-speaking enviroment with no knowledge of the language then it seems to me it would provoke way more hostilities and accomplish little

Exactly that approach has been phenomenally successful in Wales. According to the 2001 census, 20% of the population now speak it--the first increase in 100 years. Among young children, the figure is nearly 25%. The key is start very early, at the nursery school level. If they arrive at school for the first time in their lives to find the language of instruction is completely different than it is at home, they take it in stride. It's only once they've had enough exposure to larger society to realise that this is not the dominant language that they become resistant.

And they have no Welsh language lessons? I mean immersion is cool, but Saim suggested combining it with Tatar not being compulsory. And Russians here throw collective tantrum whenever somebody proposes increasing amount of Latvian in their schools, I don't suppose they are very different in Tataristan
Last edited by Sol Invictus on 2012-01-26, 3:02, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Linguistic rights

Postby linguoboy » 2012-01-26, 2:55

Sol Invictus wrote:And they have no Welsh language lessons?

Welsh is taught like any other subject: in Welsh.

Is early immersion really such a novel concept where you are? It's been practiced in this country since at least the 70s, and it's even more widespread in Canada, where nearly 8% of all eligible students outside of Quebec are enrolled in French immersion programmes.
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Re: Linguistic rights

Postby Sol Invictus » 2012-01-26, 3:05

linguoboy wrote:Is early immersion really such a novel concept where you are?

No, my question isn't exactly about efficiency of immersion. I edited my previous post to add some details

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Re: Linguistic rights

Postby Saim » 2012-01-26, 3:19

linguoboy wrote:
Sol Invictus wrote:If by immersion + bilingual schools you mean that Russian kids would be thrown into Tatar-speaking enviroment with no knowledge of the language then it seems to me it would provoke way more hostilities and accomplish little

Exactly that approach has been phenomenally successful in Wales. According to the 2001 census, 20% of the population now speak it--the first increase in 100 years. Among young children, the figure is nearly 25%. The key is start very early, at the nursery school level. If they arrive at school for the first time in their lives to find the language of instruction is completely different than it is at home, they take it in stride. It's only once they've had enough exposure to larger society to realise that this is not the dominant language that they become resistant.

+1

This is the success story that convinced me that this is a viable model for other threatened linguistic communities. It worked in the Basque Country, it worked in Wales, it's brought Hawaiian back from the brink of extinction, and it's producing the only really proficient Irish-speakers in Ireland.

I also think it should be a phasing in process. I wouldn't make Tatar the only medium of education overnight, obviously. What I think is important is that more and more teachers learn to teach Tatar at university, and Tatar-medium education is made available to less elite students (as well as ethnic Russians). Replace "Tatar" with any other language in a similar situation.

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Re: Linguistic rights

Postby hlysnan » 2012-01-26, 3:36

Tatarstan's situation is completely different from Wales. Most people living in Wales believe themselves to be Welsh before all else, while in Tatarstan, you would expect ethnic Russians (40% of the population) to see themselves, as well, Russian. Would you expect ethnic Russians to agree to sending their children to Tatar-medium schools?

I wouldn't be opposed to having Tatar-medium schools, but the goal shouldn't be to have Tatar the sole medium of education at any point in time, unless for some reason all of the Russians living in Tatarstan leave the republic.
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Re: Linguistic rights

Postby Saim » 2012-01-26, 3:39

hlysnan wrote:
JackFrost wrote:That could still engender hostility with the Russian speakers complaining that some Tatars are refusing to learn Russian by not taking Russian courses.

I don't see why Russian speakers would be upset if Tatars don't take up Russian in school. We're talking about people living in Tatarstan.

Because Tatarstan is part of Russia. :P

Saim wrote:I don't know if it'll endgender that much hostility. I think the main problem with Tatar being a compulsory subject (in fully Russian-medium schools) is that they are forced to learn it, and they suck at it. If they're given the opportunity to really become really good at them (through immersion rather than boring-ass classes), kids love other languages. But obviously I don't know what the exact situation is in Russia so maybe I'm wrong.

Immersion isn't suddenly going to make classes more fun. It'll make things a lot more difficult though, especially for older kids.

Obviously I wouldn't suddenly make ethnic Russians in higher grades in Russian-speaking schools suddenly start studying through Tatar. That's just absurd. My point is that a gradual increase in the proportion of students who go to Tatar-medium schools is the only way to ensure Tatar's continued existence as a language of daily life in Tatarstan.

Saim wrote:I thought you believed that people should "learn the language of their country"? Why is Tatar suddenly an exception?

Tatar is a language of the country though. They've been there for what 800 years.

It is indeed. I'm glad we're on the same page here.

Saim wrote:Does the "language of the country" stop being the "language of the country" when it's a minority?

It depends. But in most cases, I would say no.

Saim wrote: If Mandarin or Malay or whatever became the dominant vernacular of Australia through immigration, would they then not have the duty to learn English?

I guess not. You can bet if I'm still here when it happens I'd be up in arms about it though.

So what would you want to be done in such a situation? Let's say 51% of the population is descended from English-speaking Australians, but many of them are now Mandarins-speaking. The rest is predominantly Chinese.

Saim wrote:Fair enouh. I don't disagree, although I do think that an electorate can democratically decide for measures that will help them reach that goal.

Exactly why I think it should be decentralised. The more decentralised the decision making is for this sort of thing, fewer numbers of people are disenfranchised. If you have 51% of Tatarstan voting for monolingual Tatar-medium schools with optional Russian, all those opposed over the entire republic would be helpless. If this was managed at a local level, this problem would be limited because people living in majority Tatar districts would have their Tatar schools, while majority Russian districts would have their Russian schools.

That sounds reasonable. It's true that the same principle can be applied to the federation as a whole: say, if the 80% Russian majority voted against any non-Russian medium education in any of the republics.

Saim wrote:See, this is what I mean when you have minority-medium as "just an option". I don't think many Tatars want not to speak Tatar, but when Tatar-medium is only present in private schools and not at all supported by the government minority-language skills are only available to the elite.

I didn't say I would just have them available only in private schools though. What I would like is for the schools to be managed at a local level.

Once again, that sounds reasonable enough. It'd be good to know how it'd work in practice, though. I guess it works at the federation to republic level, so why wouldn't it work at an even more localized level (federation to oblast, or republic to) Certainly allowing the oblasts more educational autonomy would be great for all those minority populations outside the republics.

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Re: Linguistic rights

Postby hlysnan » 2012-01-26, 3:49

Saim wrote:So what would you want to be done in such a situation? Let's say 51% of the population is descended from English-speaking Australians, but many of them are now Mandarins-speaking. The rest is predominantly Chinese.

At that point, I'd leave the country and have the same view that I have with Tatarstan - have local councils manage schools.

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Re: Linguistic rights

Postby Saim » 2012-01-26, 4:12

hlysnan wrote:Tatarstan's situation is completely different from Wales. Most people living in Wales believe themselves to be Welsh before all else, while in Tatarstan, you would expect ethnic Russians (40% of the population) to see themselves, as well, Russian. Would you expect ethnic Russians to agree to sending their children to Tatar-medium schools?

I wouldn't be opposed to having Tatar-medium schools, but the goal shouldn't be to have Tatar the sole medium of education at any point in time, unless for some reason all of the Russians living in Tatarstan leave the republic.

That's a good point, and it's certainly likely that Russian "Tartarstanis" (if I may make a neologism through analogy with "ethnic Kazakh" vs. "Kazakhstani citizen") will never develop any attachment to the Tatar language.

You have to remember that a whole lot of these "Welsh" people have very recent English ancestors:

Wikipedia on Wales wrote:A recent study estimated that 35% of the Welsh population have surnames of Welsh origin (5.4% of the English and 1.6% of the Scottish population also bore 'Welsh' names).[210] However, many modern surnames derived from old Welsh personal names actually arose in England.[211] In 2001, a quarter of the Welsh population were born outside Wales, mainly in England; about 3% were born outside the UK.


A whole quarter! I've even read that those born in England or to English-speaking parents are some of the most enthusiastic Welsh learners; but that's fully anecdotal so feel free to disregard it. In any case, it's clear that Welsh nationality is a regionally-based rather than ethnically-based one. Is this a totally impossible feat for Tatarstan? Can it not go from an ethnic definition of Tatar nationality to a more inclusive (and Tatar-speaking) "Tatarstani" regional identity? Perhaps it's impossible, but let's look at another historical example before we decide.

Wikipedia on Finland's language strife wrote:As the area nowadays known as Finland was gradually incorporated in the Swedish Realm from the 13th century onwards, Swedish (and Latin) became dominant over Finnish as the most-used language of administration and higher education among the Finns. Immigration of Swedish peasants to Finland's coastal regions also boosted the status of Swedish. In 1809 Swedish was spoken by 20% of the people in Finland and 80% of the citizens of Helsinki.

A significant contribution to the Finnish national awakening from the mid-19th century onwards came from the members of the mostly Swedish-speaking upper classes deliberately choosing to promote Finnish culture and language.


So Swedish-speakers were some of the most diehard Fennicizers! You could say then: well, Finland changed political status, and Finns and Swedes are more similar than Tatars and Russians. I would retort that Tatarstan has changed political status in the wake of the collapse of the USSR, and that Tatars and Russians have been intermixing for centuries.

Not enough? True, perhaps. I'm just saying to keep this in mind when you say "Russians won't want to learn Tatar". It's likely they won't, but you need to remember that identity does change. I personally hope that Tatar activists move away from ancestry and religion as markers of Tatar nationality and focus on region of origin and language instead. Obviously it's not my call to make, and deeply embedded attitudes are hard to change, but that's what I think would be the smart thing to do.

hlysnan wrote:
Saim wrote:So what would you want to be done in such a situation? Let's say 51% of the population is descended from English-speaking Australians, but many of them are now Mandarins-speaking. The rest is predominantly Chinese.

At that point, I'd leave the country and have the same view that I have with Tatarstan - have local councils manage schools.

You'd seriously leave the country? Well, I'm leaving the country, but not for any political or cultural concern. I just want to experience more of the world.

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Re: Linguistic rights

Postby Lada » 2012-01-26, 7:13

Saim wrote:
Lada wrote:Being multinational doesn't mean that you can't claim for a one-nation state

I would've thought that was totally oxymoronic. :?

I think you're confusing a multi-national state in theory, and the "multi-national state" in practice in Russia.

I don't know the theory, but the reality shows that authorities in multi-national countries want to make a melting pot there, some kind of "of course we are different, but at the same time we are one nation, one state and state's interests are higher than your own". This way is highly promoted in the US - i have such impression.

I think with the indigenous languages it's based on reservation policy.

I wonder, why can't Cherokee and other nationalities make groups and ask for creating their own autonomous republic within US? I'm pretty sure nobody would give them so many rights, but they can try at least, coz "living in reservation" sounds very depressing :roll:
I've said plenty of times on this forum that language instruction, while necessary, is not nearly is important as using the language as a medium for information, not as an end in and of itself. In other words, ideally each republic wouldn't impose the republic's language on Russians but rather promote education in the medium of the republic's language, ultimately creating a situation where all students are studying in an at least partial-titular langauge medium.

What do you think about that solution Lada?

Something like that already exists. There are different schools - Russian, Tatar-Russian and Tatar, parents select what they want for their children. In Moscow you can find incredible number of schools - all major European language schools, and Russian national too. In national republics three variants exist, in Tatarstan I found even Tatar-Turkish school.
It means that majority of Russians go to Russian schools, majority of Tatars probably go to Russian-Tatar schools as there are more of them than only-Tatar schools, but I can't say the exact figures.
People who represent national minorities are all very different. My English teacher in university was Armenian, but she didn't teach her children Armenian language, she said she wanted them to become a part of Russian society. On the other hand Armenian churches and schools do exist and seem to be popular.
That's a good point, and it's certainly likely that Russian "Tartarstanis" (if I may make a neologism through analogy with "ethnic Kazakh" vs. "Kazakhstani citizen") will never develop any attachment to the Tatar language.

Of course not, if they felt a pressure from local authorities or society, they would move to the region with dominant Russian population, but that would be a real conflict and but I'm pretty sure federal government won't allow any big pressure on any ethnicity, even minor conflict may lead to unpredictable consequences...

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Re: Linguistic rights

Postby Sol Invictus » 2012-01-26, 13:58

Lada wrote:
Saim wrote:
Lada wrote:Being multinational doesn't mean that you can't claim for a one-nation state

I would've thought that was totally oxymoronic. :?

I think you're confusing a multi-national state in theory, and the "multi-national state" in practice in Russia.

I don't know the theory, but the reality shows that authorities in multi-national countries want to make a melting pot there, some kind of "of course we are different, but at the same time we are one nation, one state and state's interests are higher than your own". This way is highly promoted in the US - i have such impression.

It seems that melting pot mentality is common in New world, where indigenous populations are small, it isn't only multi-lingual system out there.

I think with the indigenous languages it's based on reservation policy.

I wonder, why can't Cherokee and other nationalities make groups and ask for creating their own autonomous republic within US? I'm pretty sure nobody would give them so many rights, but they can try at least, coz "living in reservation" sounds very depressing :roll:

I think they've got similar thing going by wich they recognize Indian tribes as having sovereignty over their lands

It means that majority of Russians go to Russian schools, majority of Tatars probably go to Russian-Tatar schools as there are more of them than only-Tatar schools, but I can't say the exact figures.
People who represent national minorities are all very different. My English teacher in university was Armenian, but she didn't teach her children Armenian language, she said she wanted them to become a part of Russian society.

That sounds like minority is having limited opportunities to gain education in their language and don't feel accepted when they use their language. :hmm: Though, I would distinguish between Armenians who are native to another country and Tatars living in their native land.

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Re: Linguistic rights

Postby JackFrost » 2012-01-26, 20:44

I think they've got similar thing going by wich they recognize Indian tribes as having sovereignty over their lands

Yep. The federal and state government pretty much don't have much control there, including policing and applying laws and taxes. They can set up education taught in their own language as they see fit and the government can't do much about it.

I wonder, why can't Cherokee and other nationalities make groups and ask for creating their own autonomous republic within US?

Reservations are similar to the Russian autonomous republics, but with more powers. (read above)
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Re: Linguistic rights

Postby Sol Invictus » 2012-01-26, 21:44

JackFrost wrote:They can set up education taught in their own language as they see fit and the government can't do much about it.

Have they done so?

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Re: Linguistic rights

Postby Oleksij » 2012-02-19, 0:18

Congratulations to Latvia for showing Russian its place.
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Re: Linguistic rights

Postby Goldstein » 2012-02-19, 4:37

Sounds like Schadenfreude to me.

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Re: Linguistic rights

Postby Sol Invictus » 2012-02-20, 9:43

I fail to see the part where there is Schade :hmm:

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Re: Linguistic rights

Postby johnH » 2012-02-24, 5:35

Jurgen Wullenwever wrote:The situation in Sweden is a little different, and I disregard recent immigrant groups here.

Earlier we had a group of territorial languages: Standard Swedish (urban vernacular + rural dialects close to the standard), and peripheral dialects which could be of Scandinavian, of Finnish, and of Sami.

Nowadays a debased (not adhering to the actual historical developments, but more of a subjective desk product) version of Standard Swedish, so called National Swedish (rikssvenska) has been forcibly promoted by the government and is used by almost everyone.

Adjusting (aborting) National Swedish for the state language to become more like the real Standard Swedish is a minor matter (although the most important to me personally). The more interesting question here concerns the peripheral dialects. Most people in their areas, or of their tribes, do not use them anymore. How should they best be supported?

Should only the current speakers have some support for their language, or should the ethnic descendants of people speaking that language be encouraged or forced into using it, or should people in selected municipalities have the opportunity or be forced to learn the language?

The regime has forbidden ethnic statistics, so it is not known what tribe anyone belongs to. :(
In this case that is a problem, I can see
When one munipality (Kiruna) suggested that school pupils there should get a choice to learn one of three local languages, people demonstrated and protested that the politicians should not force their children to learn anything. :|

Okay, so why didn't they protest math's education? sports corriculum? in-fact why don't they protest manditory schooling? or having to learn swedish presumably.
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Re: Linguistic rights

Postby Saim » 2012-02-29, 7:29

Speaking of Latvia, this article has been discussed on some other language forums (like HLTAL):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17083397

BBC wrote:Latvia rejects making Russian an official language

Latvians have resoundingly rejected the option of making Russian the country's second official language, results from a referendum indicate.

About two-thirds of those registered voted, the election commission said, many more than in previous polls.

The referendum, initiated by a Russian speakers' movement, has exposed deep fault-lines in Latvia.

Ethnic Russians, who make up about one-third of Latvia's population, have long complained of discrimination.

But many ethnic Latvians believe the referendum was an attempt to encroach on the country's independence.

It was initiated by the Russian-speakers' movement, Native Tongue, which collected signatures from more than 10% of voters to force a ballot.

Officials said that with more than 90% of votes counted, 75% of votes cast in Saturday's referendum were against the proposal.

Turnout was about 69%, which officials say was considerably higher than expected.

'Absurd' referendum
Learning Latvian was a prerequisite for citizenship in the years after the country split from the Soviet Union two decades ago

But many Russian-speakers resisted, and some 300,000 remain without citizenship, which means they cannot vote in elections, hold public office or work in government institutions, the Associated Press reports.

"I think that over the past 20 years Russian residents of Latvia have been humiliated by authorities, by endless attempts either to assimilate or make them second-class citizens," Vladimir Linderman, co-chairman of Native Tongue, told AP. "So this is our answer."

The referendum has been described as "absurd" by Latvian President Andris Berzins, who said most people were more concerned with the country's recovery from a severe recession.

He pointed out that the government funds own-language schools for minority groups such as Russians.

"There's no need for a second language. Whoever wants, can use their language at home or in school," he said.

Latvia gained independence from Moscow in 1991 after half-a-century of Soviet rule. It joined the European Union in 2004.


Generally I'm in favour of the smaller language, but I think this is a bit much. How can Latvia refuse to give citizenship to people who were always citizens will there under the USSR? How can you have a citizenship requirement that a large portion of the native-born population cannot fulfill? They should be encouraged to learn Latvian, certainly. I agree that at least some Latvian should be compulsory in schools.

But Russian is never going to disappear as the native language of Latvian Russians, so why not use much more effective ways of encouraging them to learn Latvian (i.e., let them become citizens, rather than making it a requirement for citizenship)?

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Re: Linguistic rights

Postby Sol Invictus » 2012-02-29, 8:41

Saim wrote:How can Latvia refuse to give citizenship to people who were always citizens will there under the USSR?

Latvia renewed independence (not declared it anew) and annulled the act of joining USSR. Thus such thing as USSR citizens never existed. There were Latvian citizens, their decedents, who were entitled to citizenship and whole bunch of stateless persons who were granted special status.

I don't think having citizenship and linguistic rights is the same thing. But as for citizenship - there's been some talking that they don't want citizenship. For one the language test is easy and probably can be passed with educated guessing. And secondly their kids are entitled to citizenship, the parents just need to submit a request, but now the pro-Russian politicians are complaining that this is too complicated procedure too.

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Re: Linguistic rights

Postby linguoboy » 2012-02-29, 15:11

Saim wrote:But Russian is never going to disappear as the native language of Latvian Russians, so why not use much more effective ways of encouraging them to learn Latvian (i.e., let them become citizens, rather than making it a requirement for citizenship)?

What evidence is there that this would be "much more effective" in making them learn Latvian? It's hard for me to think of parallels to the Latvian situation which one could draw judgments from.
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Re: Linguistic rights

Postby Sol Invictus » 2012-03-01, 8:21

linguoboy wrote:
Saim wrote:But Russian is never going to disappear as the native language of Latvian Russians, so why not use much more effective ways of encouraging them to learn Latvian (i.e., let them become citizens, rather than making it a requirement for citizenship)?

What evidence is there that this would be "much more effective" in making them learn Latvian? It's hard for me to think of parallels to the Latvian situation which one could draw judgments from.

Most of former USSR is in somewhat similar situation. Theoretically you could assess situation of each language and look at linguistic policy, and see which is best.


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