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Crisp - Kierwel l Michael(eel-D 22 Language Planning Isaev...

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Unformatted text preview: Kierwel l Michael (eel-D. 22 Language Planning Isaev, M. (1970), Sto tridtsat' ravnopravnykh, ‘Nauka‘, Moskva. Isaev, M. 979), Iazykovoe stroitels’tvo v SSSR, Moskva. Ivanov, V. . and Mikhailovskaia, N. G. (1982), ‘Russkii iazyk kak sredstvo mezhnatsi al’nogo obshcheniia: aktual’nye problemy i aspekty’, Voprosy liazykoznant‘ , 6, 3—13. 7 J'ernudd, B. an Das Gupta, J. (1971), ‘Towards 'a Theory of Language Planning’ in ubin, J. and Jemudd, B. Can Language Be Planned?, 195—215. Kirkwood, M. (for coming), ‘Russian Language Teaching Policy in Soviet Central Asia 195 6’, Paper presented at the II Seminar on Central Asian Studies, University‘ f London (SOAS), April 1987. ‘ Kozlov, V. (1988), Th Peoples of the Soviet Union, Hutchinson. ‘Kreindler, II (1982), T _e Changing Status of‘Russian in the Soviet Union, International Journal f the Sociology of Language, 33, The Hague. Lenin, V. (1961), ‘Kritich skie zametki po natsional’nomu voprosu’, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, tom 4, Moskva, 113—50. Lenin, V. (1961), ‘Nuzhen ' obiazatel’nyi gosudarstvennyi iazyk‘?’, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, tom 2 , Moskva, 293—5. Lenin, V. (1961), ‘Zakono roekt o natsional’nom ravnopravii’, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, tom 25, oskva, 16—18. Lenin, V. (1961), -‘K voprosu o natsional’noi politike’,. Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, tom 25 , 64—7. \a Lenin, V. (1961), ‘Proekt zakon o ravnopravii natsii i o zashchite prav natsional’nykh.men’shinstv’, Po oesobranie sochinenii, tom 25, Moskva, 135—7. Lenin, V. (1961), ‘O prave natsii ha samoopredelenii’, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, tom 25 , Moskva, 255—320. . Lewis, B. Glynn (1972), Multilingualishz in the Soviet Union, The Hague. Lewis, B. Glynn (1983), ‘Irnplementatio of Language Planning in the Soviet Union’, in Cobarrubias, J. and Fishm , J. (eds), Progress in Language Planning, Mouton, 309—25. , Ray, Punya Sloka (1963), Language standa disation, Mouton, The Hague. Rice, 1?. (ed.) (1962) Study of the Role of Se and Languages in Asia, Africa and Latin America, Centre for Applied Lin uistics, Washington, DC. Rubin, 1.: (1971), ‘Evaluation in Language anning’, in Rubin, J. and Jernudd, B., Can Language Be Planned? , 21 52. Rubin, l. and Jernudd, B. (1971), Can Languag Be Pianned?, University Press of Hawaii. Tauli, V. (1968), Introduction to a theory of Langua a Planning, Uppsala. nw-_m.w&. , New York; St. Marni Presg ). Z770. ‘2 Soviet Language Planning 1917—53 Simon Crisp The years 1917 to 1953 are the period of most intensive language planning activity (hereafter LP) in the Soviet Union, and are of crucial significance if we are to understand not only the mechanisms of Soviet LP, but also the political context in which all these decisions were taken. The aim of this chapter is therefore twofold: on the one hand to give as objective an account as possible of such measures as the creation and development of new literary languages, alphabet reform, literacy campaigns, terminological work and other kinds of language treatment — and on the other to attempt some assessment of all this activity, above all by posing the question of whether the historical’development of LP over the first three and a half decades of Soviet power represents a series of ideological voltes-faces, or whether the undoubted vicissitudes ultimately represent, in Glyn Lewis’s memorable phrase, ‘a series of periodic shufflings and re— shufflings of the same pack of ideas’ (Lewis 1972: 87). Perhaps the best place to embark on such an enquiry is with the views of Lenin on the national language question. There is little disagreement as to the substance of such views‘: Lenin, for all his personal love of the Russian language and his belief that voluntary adoption of it was a positive phenomenon, stressed the absolute equality of all languages in a multinational state and came out strongly against the maintenance of any single mandatory state language. He was quick to accuse of chauvinism those colleagues who argued that such a role should be guaranteed for Russian, and instead threw his personal support behind an ambitious programme for study of the languages of the former Russian Empire and the creation of new written forms for them — the major institutions for the study of nationality and language questions were set up in Lenin’s lifetime and under his direct influence. We shall not repeat here the well—known quotation from Lenin on the need to ensure equal rights even for the smallest language groups (as in the celebrated case of the single Georgian schoolboy in St Petersburg) and his consistent rejection of a specially privileged role for Russian: instead we shall pass on to the 23 Lfl :Flwm‘tg M M Sat/fat Lin/014‘: 24 Soviet Language Planning 1917—453 resolutions of the 10th Party Congress (March 1921) on the national— 1ty question, where such idealism - if idealism it was — took on the form of a concrete policy statement. Specifically it was resolved to help the non—Russian peoplesto: ‘— develop and consolidate their Soviet statehood in forms appro— priate to the national characteristics and way of life of these peoples; — develop and consolidate judicial, administrative, economic and governmental bodies operating in the native language and composed of local people who know the way of life and psychology of the local population; . — develop the press, schools, theatre, clubs and cultural institu— tions in general in the native language; —— establish and develop a wide network of general and technical- professronal courses and schools in the native language. (KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh 1970: 252) The sincerity of such statements as these, and of the position adopted in Lenin’s own writing, has not infrequently been called into question. It is argued, for instance, that Lenin was nothing if not an astute political pragmatist, and that he saw temporary concessions on the language question as a means of coping with the complex and difficult nationalities problem inherited from the Russian Empire. According to this argument Lenin and his followers, despite the small importance given to nationalism in theoretical Marxian socialism, had decided in the interests of power politics to make capital out of the incipient nationalist movements amongst the oppressed peoples of the Empire (Pipes 1964: 36—7; Hazard 1968: 83; Conquest 1970: 114) and were then faced with the problem of creating among these Widely varied and far flung peoples some kind of loyalty to the revolutionary ideas that had triumphed in the more urbanised and industrialised Central Russian areas. This meant, in the first place, some rethinking of the Bolsheviks’ attitude to federation (which had earlier been condemned out of hand); and in the second place, the creation of an extensive system of organisation and representation of the various nationalites, the Commissariat of Nationality Affairs (Narkomnats) and the Council of Nationalities (Pipes 1964: 112—13, 248—50, 288; Hazard 1968: 89—91). For some among the leadership, undoubtedly, this whole apparatus represented a convenient method of political control; Kalinin, for example, was to say that ‘the aim of Sov1et policy has always been to teach the people of the Kirghiz steppe, the small Uzbek cotton grower and the Turkmen gardener to 1 «1*.~_w..v.~_.-€__-._..._W.,.+ ,. ._ .—.c,.u,.....-_~ A. Simon Crisp 25 accept the ideals of the Leningrad worker’ (quoted by Conquest 1970: 129). Yet at the same time we may observe a note of tremen- dous idealism; idealism about the triumph of the Revolution and its imminent spread throughout the world, idealism about the liberation and progress of all the peoples of the Russian Empire, idealism about the task of making the equality of national languages into a living, practical reality. Such attitudes are especially characteristic of local leaders, ‘national communists’ in many of the regions, who may well have been more ‘national’ than ‘communist’ but who — for whatever reason ~ were given considerable power and influence in the early Soviet period; yet it seems clear that similar views were also held within the central leadership and formed the basis for the policy of korenizatsiia or ‘local rooting’ which we shall see to be characteristic of the whole of the first decade of Soviet power. Before the twentieth century the languages of the Russian Empire were studied unsystematically by missionaries, scholars and lay en- thusiasts, and few of them — especially in the Southern and Eastern regions of the Empire —— could boast an established written form.2 After the revolution, however, attempts were made to put scientific study of these languages on a more systematic footing, above all by the formation of research institutes with distinguished scholars at their head. which engaged in numerous linguistic expeditions to study phonetic systems and dialect distribution (for a general survey see Bokarev and Desheriev eds 1959; a good practical report from the North Caucasus is Iakovlev 1924). Of most interest from the point of I view of LP, of course, is the connection between scientific work and alphabet creation. Most early Soviet LP measures were directed towards the Eastern regions of the country where the majority of the peoples were Muslim and where the languages, if they were written at all, were written almost exclusively in the Arabic script — and it was to questions of script reform that the planners first turned. The earliest trend, which predates the establishment of Soviet power but which flourished in the initial period of concessions to local and religious traditions, was for reform of the Arabic alphabet. Such reforms were not particularly far-reaching and served in the main \simply to bring a certain amount of consistency into, for example, the way sounds peculiar to the Turkic languages were represented (the nasal InJ is one case) and a one—to-one correspondence between , sounds. and symbols in cases where the Arabic alphabet allowed various possibilities (for example, the sibilants). In the more ambitious projects (for instance, the so-called “new ortllography’ devised 26 Soviet Language Planning 1917—53 for the Avar language in 1920) the vowels, which werelacking in the Arabic alphabet proper, were written in full.3 The current Soviet interpretation of these revisions to the Arabic alphabet is that while they represented a step forward at the time their significance could only be shortlived, for the technical difficult— ies of the Arabic script made it unsuitable as a vehicle for mass literacy and its connection with the past played into the hands of the reactionary Muslim clergy (see, for example, Daniialov 1972: 133). At any rate, pressure for latinisation began so early that it was not a measure of very great or lasting significance. The first moves toward latinisation, interestingly enough, came from opposite ends of the new Soviet state. As early as 1917 the Yakut linguist S. A. Novgorodov developed for Yakut a Latin script based on the symbols of the International Phonetic Association which, despite its peculiarities (it had, for example, no capital letters and entirely lacked punctuation marks), was confirmed by official decree'in 1921 and was used for the best part of a decade as the medium of literacy and the vehicle of culture for the young Yakut intelligentsia (Imart 1966: 228).4 Of much wider perspective, how— ever, were the moves which took place in the early 19205 in Azer- baidzhan, where attempts to introduce a Latin script had been made as early as the middle of the nineteenth century and where idealism about the spread of the Revolution to other countries (‘setting the East ablaze’) was most rife - it was a meeting with the head of the Azerbaidzhan latinisation committee S. Aghamaly-Oghlu which ap- parently convinced Lenin that the widespread implementation of this measure could be regarded as a true ‘Revolution in the East” (Imart 1966: 231). In Azerbaidzhan the new Latin alphabet was introduced by decree in 1922 under the name ‘New Way’ (yeni yol), and within a few years the Committee for the New Turkic Alphabet was able to report some quite impressive successes: the circulation of their Latin script journal had increased from a meagre 200 copies weekly in 1922 to 6000 daily in 1926 (Winner 1952: 138), while by 1927 almost a quarter of a million people were registered as literate in the new alphabet (Isaev 1979: 65).5 Meanwhile the Azerbaidzhani experience was being studied especially in other Turkic speaking Muslim regions of the Soviet state, though progress here was much slower. The relative merits of the Arabic and Latin alphabets were hotly debated, and matters came to a head at the First All-Union Turcological Congress which was held at Baku in February 1926. The lengthy stenographic report of this Congress (Pervyi Vsesoiuznyi . . . 1926) Simon Crisp 27 .1 shows that all the arguments were extensively rehearsed: the cause of the Arabic alphabet was championed above all by delegates from the Tatar,Republic (not' surprisingly in view of the long traditiOn of 5Arabic script writing in that area), but in the end a resolution '1 recommending universal adoption of the Latin script both for the Turkic languages and for the languages of culturally related peoples ' like those of Daghestan was carried by 101 votes to 7 with 9 absten- tions~ (Imart 1966: 231). - Thedecisions of the Tureolbgical Congress — not to mention the , influence of the alphabet reform in neighbouring Turkey at a time 1 when contacts between Baku and Istanbul were quite strong —— gave considerable impetus to the whole process of latinisation. Immedi— ately after the Congress a permanent organisation, the All~Umon 2:. Central Committee for the New Turkic Alphabet, was formed to popularise and oversee the introduction of the new script and to provide practical help in standardising and unifying the many local ‘ latinisation projects. The Committee also had responsibility for work on orthography and terminology, for the provision of typesettingand similar equipment and for the organisation of literacy campaigns. The materials of its various plenary sessions, ably analysed in a 1952 article by Thomas Winner, constitute a uniquely important source for Soviet LP in the late 19203 and early 1930s. The Turkic Alphabet Committee, however, was not the only body engaged in LP at this time. In the late 1920s Latin alphabets were created for several small peoples of the Soviet Far North, work which was supervised and unified by the Institute for the Peoples of the North based in Leningrad (Zak and Isaev 1966: 10—13). At the turn of the decade Latin al- phabets were being developed for a number of very small peoples (notably in the Caucasus and the Far North) in lme With the great weight being given to the concept of the native language as the essential vehicle of literacy and socialist culture (a useful checklist of alphabets created at this time is given by Grande 1993: 131—5). It is not easy looking back over the half century which separates us from such events to recapture the heady atmosphere of those days, when contemporary sources speak of the almost limitless possibilities for development of even the smallest languages and of the inherently revolutionary nature of the Latin alphabet (Khansuvarov 1932; Nurmakov ed. 1934). It is certainly difficult to imagine when reading .such sources that it could already have been envisaged to sweep away all such work and write off the enormous expense involved less than . ten years later. Moreover, in the debates of the mid and late 1920s 28 Soviet Language Planning 1917—53 there were few who had kind words for the Russian alphabet: at the very least it was deemed totally unsuitable for peoples who had until recently been oppressed by the russificatory policies of the Tsarist regime.6 More often mysterious ‘patriarchal‘leftovers’ and other sinister flaws were found in the Russian alphabet (this was after all the time when Nikolai Marf’s stadial theory of language was coming to prominence), and no less a figure than Lunacharskii wrote both in the central newspapers and in the journal of the Alphabet Committee in favour of the imminent latinisation of the Russian language itself.7 It is therefore a crucial question why in the late 19305 all the many Latin alphabets which had been so laboriously created Were quite summarily dropped in favour of alphabets based on the Russian script. As Winner and others have pointed out, study of this question is hampered by the lack of material available on the transfer to Cyrillic — indeed in a recent standard Soviet monograph on the creation of alphabets in the USSR (Isaev 1979) fully nine-tenths of the book are devoted to latinisation, with just one brief chapter on the introduction of Cyrillic. Certainly there are no sources such as those available for study of the latinisation programme; the All- Union Committee for the New Alphabet (reorganised from the old Turkic Alphabet Committee in 1930), though changing its attitude to Cyrillic early in 1937 and approving the adoption of the Russian alphabet by certain Soviet peoples (Winner 1952: 145), was liqui- dated soon afterwards (Severnyi Kavkaz, no. 45/46, 1938: 38), and despite references in some sources to work on preparations for transfer to the new alphabet as early as 1936 and to grassroots movements in favour of Cyrillic (see, for example, Musaev 1965: 19), there is little evidence of a campaign or debate like the ones held in the mid-19205.8 This is explained in Soviet sources by saying that the cultural progress of the national minorities had gone so far, and the popular trend towards learning Russian was such, that the reform of 1938 was a much simpler matter than ten years previously; also, all the accumulated experience of the earlier reform, and the fact that the Russian alphabet had more symbols to draw on than the Latin, meant that the reform could be carried out much more quickly and easily. There is some evidence of discussion after the publication of the decree on Cyrillisation (see, for example, Dagestanskaia Pravda, 8 February 1938), but the situation was clearly very different from that obtaining in 1928. There was no national ‘cyrillisation’ campaign to match the latinisation movement of the 19208, no wide discussion, no Simon Crisp 29 s periodicals devoted to the subject, no official bodies set up. Such ,facts were made much of in the émigré press of the time — Daghestani ‘observers outside the country, for example, were quick to point out that mention of the reform project only began to be made in Daghestan after it had been officially approved in Moscow. Further fuel for the ‘. accusations of russification was provided by the fact that the reform 'of the alphabet virtually coincided with the introduction of Russian as :a compulsory subject in schools which took place at about the same I tinie (decree of 13 March 1938; see Anweiler 1982: 43). ' The comparative lack of discussion of the transfer to Cyrillic and ‘ .the evidence of opposition to the reform seem to point to the iconclusion that it was introduced as the result of a change of policy in Moscow rather than (as Soviet accounts usually say) a natural devel- opment, called for by popular demand and implemented smoothly :and carefully. On this account latinisation is linked with‘a period of idealism and hope in the 19205 when the expectation that the Revol- uution could be exported (especially to the East) allowed the toler» ‘ation of nationalist tendencies which were partially expressed in an overriding commitment to the separate identities and cultural func~ tio'ns of the various minority languages, but which as time went on ; threatened increasingly to get out of control. In the 19303 the overall fpolitical climate changed from revolutionary optimism to the re- trenchment expressed by the doctrine of ‘socialism in one country’, one cultural expression of which was the consolidation of the country around the Russian language (h...
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