Staunton, March 1 – An upbeat story about how Russian scholars collected money to pay for the medical treatment of Aleksandr Kotusov, one of the last native speakers of the unique Ket language, has the unintended consequence of calling attention to something Moscow generally seeks to deny: the demise of numerically small languages and of those who speak them.
The Nazaccent portal describes how a group of Russian linguists interested in a language that is the last surviving one of its type have gathered 45,000 rubles (750 US dollars) so that Kotusov, who is one of the last Ket speakers and the only one who still sings in that Siberian language (nazaccent.ru/content/29330-uchenye-pomogli-sobrat-dengi-na-lechenie.html).
One can only praise the Russian scholars for their efforts. But the fact that this priceless treasure could be saved for so little raises questions about the priorities of the Russian state at a time when Vladimir Putin’s “optimization” program is making it ever more difficult for many in Russia to obtain medical care.
But the story, first broken for a broader Russian audience by the Takiye dela portal (