Home    Number 6, 2023

Language Ideologies and the Construction of Karelian Identity

[Yazykovye ideologii i konstruirovanie karel’skoi etnichnosti]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954152306009X


Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 20.12.2022

Accepted: 03.04.2023

About author(s)

Aleksei Ryzhkov | http://orcid.org/0000-0002-3981-3557 | loehus@gmail.com | National Research University Higher School of Economics (11 Pokrovsky Bulvar, Moscow, 109028, Russia)


Karelia, Karelian language, language ideologies, ethnic identity


The article addresses perceptions of linguistic practices underlying the construction of Karelian identity in the republic of Karelia. Based on the notion of language ideology, I analyse fieldwork data collected in the region to reveal enduring attitudes towards the functioning of Karelian. Being aware of both significant dialect variations and the generation gap in the command of the language, Karelians nevertheless tend to consider themselves part of the same ethnic group. I argue that there exist two language ideologies directly related to reproducing and reshaping the Karelian identity. The fi rst one equates the vitality of the language with the vigour of the national community. Within the second one, which could be referred to as ideology of language performativity, various practices of using Karelian are themselves acts of constructing and rethinking ethnic identity.


Ryzhkov, A.M. 2023. Yazykovye ideologii i konstruirovanie karel’skoi etnichnosti [Language Ideologies and the Construction of Karelian Identity]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 6: 139–155. https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954152306009X EDN: MNTHBQ

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