Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Boosting Prestige of Non-Russian Languages Path to Their Salvation, KBR Scholars Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 9 – Two new books issued by a private publishing house in Kabardino-Balkaria say the only way to prevent “a linguistic catastrophe” there and elsewhere in non-Russian regions of the North Caucasus in particular and in the Russian Federation more generally is to raise the prestige of these languages in the minds of the population.

            Otherwise, people will gradually turn away from their native languages and take the easy way out by yielding to Russian pressure to adopt Russian in their stead, Leorena Kharayeva and Madina Khakuasheva say ( and

            Khakuasheva, a prominent researcher at the KBR Institute for Research on the Humanities, laid out the theoretical basis for that argument in a book published by the Kotlaryev Publishing House earlier this year, Language is the Home of Our Existence (in Russian; Nalchik, 2021).

            Now, Kharayeva, who has been a professor of English at KBR State University since 1971, develops that argument and suggests some additional practical steps Circassians and Balkar Turks can take to boost their languages and ensure their survival in a new book entitled Pedagogical Communication Under Conditions of Bilingualism (in Russian; Nalchik, 2021).

            Three aspects of these two volumes make them worthy of broader attention. First, they have been published not by the government but by a private firm, an indication that the demand for such materials is large enough to justify that but isn’t being met by the government of that republic or indeed of other republics.

            Second, these two senior scholars are putting their careers on the line by proposing ways to resist Moscow’s Russianization and Russification policies, an indication of how serious they take the situation and how willing they are to try to save their languages from the extinction the Russian government clearly wants.

            And third, and this may seem paradoxical but it isn’t, both have chosen to publish these works of advocacy for Circassian and Turkic in Russian so as to promote their ideas beyond the borders of the KBR. Indeed, these books are another sign that for the non-Russians as a whole, Circassian publications are rapidly becoming as important as those from Tatarstan.

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