[Lgpolicy-list] [lg policy] Belarusian authorities raise importance of Belarusian language

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Fri Oct 31 14:16:47 UTC 2014


Belarusian authorities raise importance of Belarusian language



If you are having trouble reading this email, you may view the online
version
<http://app.bronto.com/public/?q=preview_message&fn=Link&t=1&ssid=500&id=g4v7lgn732qhfndhuac30rzae9rlv&id2=hswgt3xmmbrdpvscod1d84wtlocre&subscriber_id=bfmbrcjgphtbzapdnnrptundskodboc&delivery_id=caophsgixetiudwzvmrxsakjnusebid&messageversion_id=bzsuscfqbtzbmikmcqejzfwuvrosbko&tid=3.AfQ.T4xR.CyvK.AW4xxg..AtpxZQ.b..l.AxTh.b.VFLP_Q.VFLP_Q.TBRehg>

[image: Eurasia Daily Monitor -- The Jamestown Foundation]
<http://app.bronto.com/public/?q=ulink&fn=Link&ssid=500&id=g4v7lgn732qhfndhuac30rzae9rlv&id2=6eoeezfnxb4lergf5g0cybo46ot7d&subscriber_id=bfmbrcjgphtbzapdnnrptundskodboc&delivery_id=caophsgixetiudwzvmrxsakjnusebid&tid=3.AfQ.T4xR.CyvK.AW4xxg..AtpxZQ.b..l.AxTh.b.VFLP_Q.VFLP_Q.TBRehg&td=JKsKcWXCV8h5lVE3WMySLQ7w2ZzCOxvlDvZ4zonYt7gEm-8aMHIsVYjetG5ZyL29My3qCOObNzkglJZ7aahnESah_4lW0_3J4FmPWsxlEzIG4Q-7hrFuQQtbCh02grZ2E9sEyKWACrJy6ya0uBjCWmKw8dJ9VuI_pJdb70B_UO1EkvL97TEn7ZAumyVvI82p3hml5rgB-50DL3c_AbtEQMPfjz1ZUWItkP_swnpw3orVeXdDGMcNQJ4A>

*October 30, 2014 -- Volume 11, Issue 193*



*Language Is National Security in Belarus*



On October 23, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka met with a group of
Belarusian writers. In any country surrounding Belarus, a meeting like this
would probably not be similarly newsworthy. The country has two writers’
unions and a PEN-Center. Only one of these entities, called the Union of
Writers of Belarus is loyal to the government and uses its funding. The
other, called the Union of Belarusian Writers (UBW), is one of the
mouthpieces of the opposition, as is the Belarusian PEN-Center. The members
of the two latter institutions write exclusively in Belarusian and have
never participated in meetings with the head of state. They routinely
complain that the publication of material written in the Belarusian
language is sidelined and that the government does not do anything to raise
the stature of the national language. Indeed, in Belarus where two
languages, Belarusian and Russian, enjoy official status, Russian is used
almost universally, whereas Belarusian is the first language of
communication within a certain part of the opposition. Speaking Belarusian
in public is a rarity in the city of Minsk where, in 2013, only 1.6 percent
of all secondary school students were enrolled in classes with Belarusian
as the language of instruction (tut.by
<http://app.bronto.com/public/?q=ulink&fn=Link&ssid=500&id=g4v7lgn732qhfndhuac30rzae9rlv&id2=c0begfui7nj3a124dcepn23e4e110&subscriber_id=bfmbrcjgphtbzapdnnrptundskodboc&delivery_id=caophsgixetiudwzvmrxsakjnusebid&tid=3.AfQ.T4xR.CyvK.AW4xxg..AtpxZQ.b..l.AxTh.b.VFLP_Q.VFLP_Q.TBRehg&td=JKsKcWXCV8h5lVE3WMySLQOVfhET_92uqIZ4zonYt7gEm-8aMHIsVYjetG5ZyL29My3qCOObNzkgkMxDBbFvLfAQGmOMZR-0YiZj9nHMxYFG9RWYCrXWWCmUfXWmGSAt5bYxW55fFfdBKVTq-aNUbv_PXEnwgKWTD5>,
August 22), and no single institution of higher learning uses Belarusian
across the board.



It seems, however, that the wind is changing direction. The peculiarity of
the October writers’ meeting with President Lukashenka is that the members
of all three writers’ organizations were invited, and the sorry state of
affairs in regard to Belarusian was openly discussed. For example,
according to Barys Piatrovich, Chairman of the UBW, only 5 percent of
Belarus’s population prefers Belarusian-language books whereas, just three
years ago, in 2011, 14 percent did (Belorusskie Novosti
<http://app.bronto.com/public/?q=ulink&fn=Link&ssid=500&id=g4v7lgn732qhfndhuac30rzae9rlv&id2=2n15x1yrrzx5sr0jj0126p7z9od7r&subscriber_id=bfmbrcjgphtbzapdnnrptundskodboc&delivery_id=caophsgixetiudwzvmrxsakjnusebid&tid=3.AfQ.T4xR.CyvK.AW4xxg..AtpxZQ.b..l.AxTh.b.VFLP_Q.VFLP_Q.TBRehg&td=JKsKcWXCV8h5lVE3WMySLQngrMlHL5WBshZ4zonYt7gEm-8aMHIsVYjetG5ZyL29My3qCOObNzkgnDAwMtR5RGGYJExEIE4hS7h6L6rmybLCqpBu_PSv771ngjHZNdDh6_yFFYg4-eEhZpTIuZt5u_NWcbwvLzd8rAU5z_-2uLoC_kFsdbLRmF_mglIfzDjWhXhCeAX6zgfRklVfXvcR5S9VQSIe-5WG5H>,
October 23). At the meeting, Lukashenka pronounced some paragraphs of his
speech in Belarusian—in fact, he claimed that for him to switch completely
and effortlessly to Belarusian it would be enough to communicate with a
Belarusian speaker for just two hours (tut.by
<http://app.bronto.com/public/?q=ulink&fn=Link&ssid=500&id=g4v7lgn732qhfndhuac30rzae9rlv&id2=9e4qd5e72hcys9jq42lr5xw0ymwu8&subscriber_id=bfmbrcjgphtbzapdnnrptundskodboc&delivery_id=caophsgixetiudwzvmrxsakjnusebid&tid=3.AfQ.T4xR.CyvK.AW4xxg..AtpxZQ.b..l.AxTh.b.VFLP_Q.VFLP_Q.TBRehg&td=JKsKcWXCV8h5lVE3WMySLQsWjI58WzZe9-Z4zonYt7gEm-8aMHIsVYjetG5ZyL29My3qCOObNzkgkMxDBbFvLfAQGmOMZR-0YiZj9nHMxYFG9RWYCrXWWCmaiaU3OD3N9pO_R5vB16DZAFIGw-GvQSRwpSFs9yL8O1>,
October 23).



Ironically, the same day that Lukashenka expressed his friendly feelings to
both the Belarusian language and Belarusian-language authors, a book
presentation by one of them, Viktar Martsinovich, at a Greek Catholic
parish in Grodno was broken up by police (tut.by
<http://app.bronto.com/public/?q=ulink&fn=Link&ssid=500&id=g4v7lgn732qhfndhuac30rzae9rlv&id2=6jbr5pmdmerkh310jp9upz8vj5y5o&subscriber_id=bfmbrcjgphtbzapdnnrptundskodboc&delivery_id=caophsgixetiudwzvmrxsakjnusebid&tid=3.AfQ.T4xR.CyvK.AW4xxg..AtpxZQ.b..l.AxTh.b.VFLP_Q.VFLP_Q.TBRehg&td=JKsKcWXCV8h5lVE3WMySLQHeerjNnr2andZ4zonYt7gEm-8aMHIsVYjetG5ZyL29My3qCOObNzkgkMxDBbFvLfAQGmOMZR-0Yi8Y1OM7bl0EsXhwDbDoqOvvffVO9AJlX7cGKfUpwDBRrjnOIxH9vc2bgZVAFrDna2>,
October 23). Incidentally, the book’s title is Mova (Language).
Subsequently, however, an official in the Grodno City Hall informed Radio
Liberty that the authorities have nothing against Martsinovich or his book
but only objected to a public gathering being held in a building that has
not yet been commissioned. The same official, however, acknowledged that
police displayed excessive zealotry (tut.by
<http://app.bronto.com/public/?q=ulink&fn=Link&ssid=500&id=g4v7lgn732qhfndhuac30rzae9rlv&id2=9wfv3ihfz9hvlp79w9fek65g4ydkc&subscriber_id=bfmbrcjgphtbzapdnnrptundskodboc&delivery_id=caophsgixetiudwzvmrxsakjnusebid&tid=3.AfQ.T4xR.CyvK.AW4xxg..AtpxZQ.b..l.AxTh.b.VFLP_Q.VFLP_Q.TBRehg&td=JKsKcWXCV8h5lVE3WMySLQ2tblur7pkaZfZ4zonYt7gEm-8aMHIsVYjetG5ZyL29My3qCOObNzkgkMxDBbFvLfAQGmOMZR-0YiZj9nHMxYFG9RWYCrXWWCmUvu_MNo-m0x5cdGMfTTEz0OVRY73jJ7I2TNJ0NQ3XpQ>,
October 24). The handling of the event in Grodno resembled Soviet-era
friction whereby provincial authorities need special instructions from the
capital city to start treating actual or potential dissent less zealously
than before; but such orders are usually delayed or are issued only after
some sort of an embarrassing accident.



Artiom Shraibman, a political analyst at Belarus’s major non-government
news portal Tut.by, believes that Lukashenka’s and his entourage’s current
attention to the Belarusian language is opportunistic; but it, nonetheless,
has to be taken advantage of. It would be a grave mistake to shrug it off.
One has to understand that the system of power in Belarus is strong and
nobody inside the country can overturn it, Shraibman argues. Yet, for the
first time in 20 years, motivated by self-interest, the powers that be are
ready to do something that their opponents have long advocated. So it is
important not to frighten away this mood but lobby the authorities to open
new Belarusian-language schools, name streets after Vasil Bykau and Rygor
Borodulin (major Belarusian prose writer and poet, respectively), and erect
new monuments to Belarusian princes and activists. This should be the
minimum program for all those concerned about strengthening Belarus’s
independence, believes Shraibman (tut.by
<http://app.bronto.com/public/?q=ulink&fn=Link&ssid=500&id=g4v7lgn732qhfndhuac30rzae9rlv&id2=3dimqrj636u93njl7x4sedx3lq3yh&subscriber_id=bfmbrcjgphtbzapdnnrptundskodboc&delivery_id=caophsgixetiudwzvmrxsakjnusebid&tid=3.AfQ.T4xR.CyvK.AW4xxg..AtpxZQ.b..l.AxTh.b.VFLP_Q.VFLP_Q.TBRehg&td=JKsKcWXCV8h5lVE3WMySLQQRxcsk2KrS6cZ4zonYt7gEm-8aMHIsVYjetG5ZyL29My3qCOObNzkglHkkE6CCapxCCTjBzerobpWNYXIjhK2Dk8d44feAdB0wZ1btJqJCovs9pJ73TbuX8uptWlNkwXYKLgrBzH5rfX>,
October 24). As for the reason behind Lukashenka’s attention to the
preservation of the Belarusian language, Shraibman points to the lessons
learned in Ukraine this past year. Namely, a preponderance of Russian
speakers turned out to be heaviest in those regions of Ukraine where
Ukrainian identity has been relatively weak. In this regard, all of Belarus
is vulnerable, he concludes.



Incidentally, one recent attempt to conduct a free Belarusian-language
course for those willing to master the language has failed because of
political disagreements. Its organizer, Yekaterina Kibalchich, who was born
in Minsk and graduated from the Belarusian State University, has, since
2003, been affiliated with Channel One of Moscow TV. She spent her own
money to run the language course on the premises of Tut.by in Minsk, and
some opposition-minded Belarusians worked as course instructors. When,
however, it became clear that Kibalchich did some TV reporting in support
of separatism in eastern Ukraine, the language instructors left in protest.
Writing in Belarusian, the philosopher Piotra Piatrovsky suggests that
language and politics should not mix; dedication to one’s native language
should unite people of different political orientations, and only egotism
stands in the way of unity (Belorusskie Novosti
<http://app.bronto.com/public/?q=ulink&fn=Link&ssid=500&id=g4v7lgn732qhfndhuac30rzae9rlv&id2=gwsoxrdf4h8xhtbtb368mi87r5db9&subscriber_id=bfmbrcjgphtbzapdnnrptundskodboc&delivery_id=caophsgixetiudwzvmrxsakjnusebid&tid=3.AfQ.T4xR.CyvK.AW4xxg..AtpxZQ.b..l.AxTh.b.VFLP_Q.VFLP_Q.TBRehg&td=JKsKcWXCV8h5lVE3WMySLQxXNFbHWjBUUNZ4zonYt7gEm-8aMHIsVYjetG5ZyL29My3qCOObNzkgnDAwMtR5RGGYJExEIE4hS7l8_rtvqY4EhxZAuztLMchyHjVyqzrqvYmmotH8cJ58djxetofPXE2_l3zPs3sNvI-0NV5Vuk67iCf4QGUzKYSLfPjQae5BhOTHtHgBAXgS1FMgW_cvq0FweVi8Ermvqx>,
October 16). Indeed, in the words of Yury Zisser, the founder and owner of
Tut.by, “language is national security” (Svaboda
<http://app.bronto.com/public/?q=ulink&fn=Link&ssid=500&id=g4v7lgn732qhfndhuac30rzae9rlv&id2=d94p7o9m1uakg4v5mwv8rilf2l23y&subscriber_id=bfmbrcjgphtbzapdnnrptundskodboc&delivery_id=caophsgixetiudwzvmrxsakjnusebid&tid=3.AfQ.T4xR.CyvK.AW4xxg..AtpxZQ.b..l.AxTh.b.VFLP_Q.VFLP_Q.TBRehg&td=JKsKcWXCV8h5lVE3WMySLQPOYSuK8BUZiMZ4zonYt7gEm-8aMHIsVYjetG5ZyL29My3qCOObNzkglEP0ay_ZOGP-BOYhaCfZYGlejkMmGEXH1fM4PG4C6bjI99vgp2OLMrjNc5jC6V2_ekta5y6O69XwtXyAOUY3AiJuoyyRGFaodF60-B7llxXw>,
October 23).



Some, like the editor of the major Belarusian-language newspaper Nasha
Niva, Andrei Dynko, opine that Lukashenka’s attempt at preserving and
reviving Belarusian is too little, too late (Belorusskie Novosti
<http://app.bronto.com/public/?q=ulink&fn=Link&ssid=500&id=g4v7lgn732qhfndhuac30rzae9rlv&id2=6k58f8dpnq33zq7btvkym47xh8cnx&subscriber_id=bfmbrcjgphtbzapdnnrptundskodboc&delivery_id=caophsgixetiudwzvmrxsakjnusebid&tid=3.AfQ.T4xR.CyvK.AW4xxg..AtpxZQ.b..l.AxTh.b.VFLP_Q.VFLP_Q.TBRehg&td=JKsKcWXCV8h5lVE3WMySLQA-XiOmuataP1Z4zonYt7gEm-8aMHIsVYjetG5ZyL29My3qCOObNzkgnDAwMtR5RGGYJExEIE4hS7sEGZ9UfNUAhfYivsdkpROq72B_0_90ujdf8ZpTHwcnWnRTz_qwf1WCJ1-SEuV5fvTh8NMiiXakqtj-NegJPgPEN7g96gv0K0xLoRr3HVqg4rjFg10HvH_HrgdAUi6ads>,
October 23). Whether or not this is true, it is unlikely that concern over
Belarusian sovereignty is being blown out of proportion. In 2016, for
example, as TASS reported earlier this month, a new Russian military
airbase will appear in Bobruisk (Belorusskie Novosti
<http://app.bronto.com/public/?q=ulink&fn=Link&ssid=500&id=g4v7lgn732qhfndhuac30rzae9rlv&id2=02kxfx8i23f4b1z71l2628wq7cwwi&subscriber_id=bfmbrcjgphtbzapdnnrptundskodboc&delivery_id=caophsgixetiudwzvmrxsakjnusebid&tid=3.AfQ.T4xR.CyvK.AW4xxg..AtpxZQ.b..l.AxTh.b.VFLP_Q.VFLP_Q.TBRehg&td=JKsKcWXCV8h5lVE3WMySLQoyZ7QJQQpJO_Z4zonYt7gEm-8aMHIsVYjetG5ZyL29My3qCOObNzkglHkkE6CCapxCCTjBzerobpWNYXIjhK2Dk8d44feAdB02RHaD6N8J6Fskzcu9G1Bgj8DgMxhBSV9A1YCCSs6cSKcJ1F0SbNDs9KnF7Xp1TR4w>,
October 15); and just days ago, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of Russia
warned about the consequences of Belarus’s resistance to five major
privatization agreements that would hand over major Belarusian businesses
to Russian tycoons (tut.by
<http://app.bronto.com/public/?q=ulink&fn=Link&ssid=500&id=g4v7lgn732qhfndhuac30rzae9rlv&id2=b5l8odb3ui2yqhtkxc3meb2xdr219&subscriber_id=bfmbrcjgphtbzapdnnrptundskodboc&delivery_id=caophsgixetiudwzvmrxsakjnusebid&tid=3.AfQ.T4xR.CyvK.AW4xxg..AtpxZQ.b..l.AxTh.b.VFLP_Q.VFLP_Q.TBRehg&td=JKsKcWXCV8h5lVE3WMySLQQxy4QlPF_xiOZ4zonYt7gEm-8aMHIsVYjetG5ZyL29My3qCOObNzkgkYI7c81Ff-fGut7RZT7L0t9_xkp6Tiz_8Lne7Is5dOTXhEWBRyZoSIaH95iZbZhMWRRMuG6kszeHAK5eXUNMw04Rrmmn5V1u5F-1ogLWoiJQ>,
October 21).



To what extent the Belarusian authorities’ newly revived interest in the
national language will strengthen Belarusian identity remains to be seen.
But any movement in this direction is arguably a welcome development for
those concerned with the country’s safeguarding of its sovereignty.

https://mail.google.com/mail/#inbox/1496648354162bbe?compose=149668ffc9a9580f

-- 
=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+

 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

-------------------------------------------------
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/lgpolicy-list/attachments/20141031/ff9950ba/attachment-0001.html>
-------------- next part --------------
_______________________________________________
This message came to you by way of the lgpolicy-list mailing list
lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu
To manage your subscription unsubscribe, or arrange digest format: https://groups.sas.upenn.edu/mailman/listinfo/lgpolicy-list


More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list