Home    Number 3, 2016

O yazykovoi politike

[On Language Policies]

Type of publication: Research Article

About author(s)

Vladimir Alpatov| v-alpatov@ivran.ru | The Institute of Linguistics, Russian Academy of Sciences


language policy, deliberate policy, spontaneous policy, need for a sense of identity, need for mutual understanding, official language, minority language


In any state, there is a kind of language policy that is pursued deliberately and/or spontaneously, influencing the balance of two basic human needs – the need for a sense of identity and the need for mutual understanding. In an industrial society, there was usually followed a rigid type of policy aimed at satisfying the need for mutual understanding, while minority identities tended to be overlooked. In the Soviet Russia after the revolution of 1917, there was an attempt to lay the need for a sense of identity in the foundation of the new language policy; thus the minority language rights were expanded and some of the languages were provided a substantial growth impetus. Still, that policy rested on utopian foundations in many ways and it gradually grew into a policy that favored the dissemination of the Russian language. At present, measures for the development and promotion of minority languages are carried out in the EU countries; but policies remain rigid in other countries such as USA or Japan. In Russia, on the whole, there is currently a lack of deliberate language policy purposefully pursued, with the exception of a number of autonomous administrative regions; while the kind of policy that is spontaneously followed is still directed towards the growth of the Russian language.


Alpatov, V.M. 2016. O yazykovoi politike (On Language Policies). Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 3: 7-15

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