Is it true that ?Georgians don?t need the Russian language??

Rusiko Amirejibi-Mullen r.amirejibi-mullen at
Wed Jul 9 10:57:00 UTC 2008

Is it true that ?Georgians don?t need the Russian language??

translated by Tim Blauvelt
Novosti-Gruziya, July 8

These were the words of a Georgian bureaucrat during a recent  
tele-conference organized by RIA Novosti. Another added: ?Georgian  
students now, by their own admission, know Russian worse than they  
know English.? This isn?t the first time that such words come from the  
mouths of politicians from the ?establishment? of various CIS  
countries, and also from people in the arts. But, perhaps, it was the  
first time at such an event. The thing is that this tele-bridge joined  
the capitals of Moldova , Russia , Georgia and Ukraine , so experts  
from a number of different capitals from the post-Soviet space could  
participate in this discussion about language that was ignited in  
Tbilisi . So thus the Georgian representatives? words forced many to  
reply with more than just canonical phrases: ?The Russian language is  
very valuable,? or ?Russian is not just the language of Russians,? and  
so forth.

?Georgians and Armenians will soon be speaking with one another in  
English,? said a third. And a forth joked that they wouldn?t be  
speaking in English, but rather in Turkish.

But this is the thing: is it true that Russian has lost its  
significance for Georgia ? And one more thing: is this good for  
Georgians? First off all, the thesis that a significant number of  
young residents of Georgia speak English well seems arguable. There is  
no unanimous opinion on this, and the statistical data varies ? the  
concept is imprecise. For example, Professor David Gotsiridze, a  
member of the board of the International Association of Teachers of  
Russian Language and Literature (MAPRIAL) and the President of the  
Multilingual Association of Georgia, thinks that ?if English is to  
take on the function of Russian in the larger sense, it won?t happen  
soon.? This is because, in his opinion, only a small part of the  
residents of Tbilisi and other small cities know the language of  
Shakespeare at a serious level. To learn a language means to ?get into  
the language? ? to study with an Englishmen or an American or at least  
somebody who has lived abroad ? and to have real conversational  
practice with a native speaker. And this is not so cheap. Given the  
average income in Georgia according to official data, the majority of  
Georgians should not expect that English will be spread far and wide  
anytime soon. But, perhaps, if Georgia receives MAP in order to enter  
NATO or if the country is accepted into the North Atlantic Alliance,  
then real English-speaking teachers will appear in Georgian villages?  
Most political analysts agree that the West will use Georgia as a  
political-military base, but will not hurry with real economic or  
cultural integration.

<snip >

Yes, truly the Russian language is departing from Georgia . But to the  
question of whether it will be replaced by another language as an  
instrument of inter-ethnic communication, the answer so far can only  
be negative. What is more, in that country besides Georgians there  
live about a half-million Azeris, about 300,000 Armenians, and Georgia  
?s neighbors are Armenia and Azerbaijan , and not English speaking  
countries or peoples. And they have no intention of giving up Russian.  
At least in order to have the possibility to communicate among one  

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list