Saturday, November 3, 2018

In Uzbek Schools, the Russian Language is Ceasing to Be Russian, Fergana Journalist Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 2 – Moscow is so concerned about having Russian taught in the former Soviet republics that it has typically failed to take note of the fact that instructors in Russian there make so many mistakes that their students are no longer speaking a Russian language that a Russian would recognize.

            The situation is particularly acute, Sabina Adolatova of the Fergana News Agency says, in Uzbekistan where the problem is not confined to regular schools but extends to university instructors as well.  As a result, she continues, it is fair to say that “Russian in Uzbekistan is ceasing to be Russian” (

                She gives example after example of grammatically and syntactically incorrect Russian that teachers and students in the Central Asian republic are using on a regular basis, imagining that they know Russian. Each is perhaps funny in and of itself, Adolatova says; but the overall pattern can only lead to regret and perhaps even anger. 

                The journalist says that many of the items which appear on the website of Samarkand State University appear to have been “prepared with the assistance of Google Translate” rather than by someone who actually knew Russian. But in many cases, Google Translate would give a better rendering of the Russian version of the Uzbek than the Uzbeks do.

            There are many reasons for the decay of knowledge of Russian, Adolatova continues, including desire to learn other foreign languages, the departure of native Russian speakers who can serve as teachers or for practice, and the size of the rising generation which has overwhelmed the schools and universities.

            Uzbekistan officials at all levels acknowledge the problem, but so far, they have failed to take adequate steps to address it, the Fergana journalist suggests.  Instead of ensuring that students at least know Russian well, many schools in Uzbekistan are pushing other languages which may not be mastered any better than Russian now is.

            As Uzbek Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov put it in June, with regard to languages other than Uzbek, “without having put in place the new, we are destroying the old.”  Among the old that is being destroyed, Adolatova concludes is a genuine knowledge of Russian. Uzbek students increasingly speak something that resembles Russian but really isn’t that language.

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