Question about Soviet language policy

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Mar 15 14:27:51 UTC 2006

To those who are familiar with Soviet language policy:

I'm interested in the question of whether the Marrist idea that all
languages would eventually merge into one world mega-language actually and
specifically implied that that language would be Russian.

In Marrist theory (before Stalin repudiated it in 1950) the idea was that
languages exhibited more and more "Japhetic" features and that eventually,
all would merge into one, and "national" languages would wither away, just
as the State would eventually wither away.  But first, they all had to go
through the stage of "bourgeois nationalism" so they had to develop the
languages and help them along, which is responsible for the development
and attention paid to lesser-used languages in the early Soviet period.
Later, this idea was downplayed, of course, and Stalin in particular began
to push Russian (and russification).

There seems to be an assumption from what I have read, that the language
that would emerge as the eventual single world language would be Russian,
but I'm not clear whether Marr (or anybody else) ever said this


Hal Schiffman

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