Russia promotes language as symbol of resurgence

The Kremlin believes it can start rebuilding the credibility of Russian as a means of communication outside its own borders, with business and not communist ideology driving the revival

Russia has launched a campaign to promote the national language after almost two decades of retreat - to match the country’s increasing economic and political confidence. The Kremlin believes it can start rebuilding the credibility of Russian as a means of communication outside its own borders, with business and not communist ideology driving the revival. One recruitment expert has advised expats that if they want a top management job they should learn Russian. In Moscow this week, ministers announced a series of plans, such as expansion of an international cultural foundation comparable with Germany’s Goethe Institute or the Alliance Francaise.

“Russian was the first language spoken in space,” said Education Minister Andrei Fursenko referring to the first cosmonauts and their Cold War-era space race against English-speaking US astronauts. Once the common language across most of the communist world, Russian has been sidelined, especially in Eastern Europe where English has replaced it as the favoured second language. Russian also suffers from an image problem there, with Czechs, Poles and other former Warsaw Pact member states resentful at being forced to study a language linked with an occupying foreign power. Across former states of the Soviet Union, only Belarus still recognises Russian as a state language. In many others, notably Turkmenistan, the post-Soviet leadership has sought to erase all traces of Russian. The number of mother-tongue Russian speakers also continues to decline. Russia’s population is falling by 700,000 every year and now stands at 142 million. Spearheading the campaign, President Vladimir Putin linked the country’s linguistic fate to its morals and values.

“Looking after the Russian language and expanding the influence of Russian culture are crucial social and political issues,” he told Russian parliamentarians in his annual address. Putin said he backed proposals to develop “the Russian language at home, support Russian language study programmes abroad and generally promote Russian language and literature around the world”. The Russian government has launched a Web site in both Russian and English to promote Russian, It provides details on more than 100 international festivals and events, as well as publications and plans to build libraries. Russian is one of six official languages at the United Nations and is still used widely in many former Soviet states.

“In the mid-90s we could put up with people not speaking Russian, because they had other experience and expertise. Now, Russians are catching up,” said Anton Derlyatka, a partner with executive search consultants Ward Howell International. “The complexities of the Russian market have increased so much that you can’t work without understanding the mentality of the people and the Russian context. In order to do that, you have to speak Russian.” The image of Russian can benefit from Russia’s current economic and political resurgence, said Culture Minister Alexei Sokolov. “The evolution of the Chinese society was the reason behind the changes in attitudes to language,” he said.

“Russia is also currently on the brink of a significant breakthrough in the areas of nanotechnology, science and culture, and that is why it should be expected that the language will benefit.” Learn Russian: Foreign ballet dancers, US astronauts and Moscow-based ambassadors who speak Russian were photographed for a new public exhibition in central Moscow to promote the campaign. Japanese dancer Morihiro Iwata said he was proud to promote Russian but didn’t speak it when he first arrived in the country 17 years ago. “I think more foreigners should learn Russian,” he said as he stood in front of a large photo of him performing in a ballet. At home, Iwata only speaks Russian with his wife and fellow Bolshoi Theatre dancer, Olga.

He had to learn the language quickly when he first arrived in the country, he recalls, because rehearsals for performances in the Bolshoi Theatre are conducted in Russian. Convincing foreigners to learn Russian is not an easy task due to the complexity of Russian grammar and to the spread of English. Russian’s main competitor abroad has also cast its corrosive spell inside Russia, with Russians using numerous English words, such as “biznesmen” and “kompyuter”, every day. The Kremlin has banned the use of the word “dollar” in official communiques. Instead, it has instructed officials to break the habit of expressing figures in the US currency and to speak only of Russian roubles. But Sokolov downplays the historical and modern-day importance of English.

“In Russia there were periods when there were special attitudes towards Western languages, in the 19th century it was French, and you know that many people then hired German governesses. By the way, English was less widespread.” “Now it is an international language - but it’s a more simple version of English that has become a means of communication, like a kind of esperanto.”


No comments:

Post a Comment

Dear reader,

Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This realization compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back, as I really needed the rest. Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Russian-Armenian alliance. Also, I feel more confident now that Armenians are collectively recognizing the strategic importance of Armenia's ties with Russia. Moreover, I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I therefore no longer have the urge to continue as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has been gradually dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal. Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. Also, I do not want to say something if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say. Henceforth, I will post seasonal commentaries about topics I find important. I will however continue moderating the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what my readers have to say and also because it's through readers here that I am at times made aware of interesting developments.

To limit clutter in the comments section, I kindly ask all participants of this blog to please keep comments coherent and strictly relevant to the featured topic of discussion. Moreover, please realize that when there are several anonymous visitors posting comments simultaneously, it becomes very confusing (not to mention extremely annoying) trying to figure out who is who and who said what.Therefore, if you are here to engage in conversation, make an observation, express an idea or simply attack me, I ask you to at least use a moniker to identify yourself. Moreover, please appreciate the fact that I have put an enormous amount of information into this blog. In my opinion, most of my blog commentaries and articles, some going back ten-plus years, are in varying degrees relevant to this day and will remain so for a long time to come. Articles in this blog can therefore be revisited by longtime readers and new comers alike. I therefore ask the reader to treat this blog as a depository of important information relating to Eurasian geopolitics, Russian-Armenian relations and humanity's historic fight against the evils of Globalism and Westernization.

Thank you as always for reading.