“For some people, the issue of language is very painful, even to the point of self-racism”
Dmitry Oparin and Vasily Kharitonov

April 10, 2024
This essay is part of a collaborative project between the Russia Program and Perito, an online media platform on culture and territories. Through a series of translated interviews and essays, we introduce Perito's content on Russia and Russia's minorities to English-speaking audiences.
Vasily Kharitonov is a linguist at the Institute of Linguistics of the Russian Academy of Sciences. In 2022, he went to the Nanai village of Dada in the Far East to teach children the Nanai language and study the local linguistic landscape. In a conversation with anthropologist Dmitry Oparin, the scholar talks about his methods of studying native speakers, the factors that influence the prestige of a language, and how the infrastructure in Russia works for those who communicate and read in more languages than just Russian.
Dmitry Oparin: How do you define yourself? Are you a teacher, a linguist or a language activist?

I’m not exactly sure. It’s like in Kung Fu Panda 3. Have you seen it? Do you watch cartoons?

I do really enjoy cartoons, but I haven’t seen Kung Fu Panda.

At one point, the main character asks himself the question: “Who am I?” He has a revelation and says: “I’m the son of Panda, I’m the son of Goose. I’m a teacher, I’m a master. And these are all me.” I’m content with the fact that there are different components in my life, and each of these roles supports the other. But perhaps, first and foremost, I am a language activist, and then a linguist and a schoolteacher. These activities give me different tools that I master on the path to preserving languages. And my interest in preserving languages is on an ideological, core-value level.

About teaching Nanai in school and how to get the village to “loosen up”

You teach at a school in the village of Dada. Is this a Nanai village?

In Dada, all families are Nanai. That is, there are many non-Nanai here, but usually these are members of a Nanai family. There are almost no people like me who are not a part of some family.

How many Nanai are there in Dada and how many of them are native speakers?

For me, the question of being a native Nanai speaker isn’t binary — a simple “yes” or “no.” A person may have excellent comprehension, but may not speak a word. And there are those who both understand and speak, but usually understand better than they speak. This year, I came up with an entire language proficiency map.

What is that?

This is a conventional name for a table describing in what situations a person understands a language and in what situations they can express themselves orally and through writing.

Could it be said that there are as many different flavors of language proficiency as there are speakers?

Absolutely. I tried to combine the foreign language assessment system and the field linguist system for assessing language proficiency. There is everyday speech: give this, bring this, do this. Almost like imperative commands. Next comes the ability to talk about oneself, then tell or retell stories. And then expressing an attitude or feeling about a situation. This is the main set, and there are two additional criteria: how ready a person is to communicate in social and professional situations. These are different macrospheres of language use and different lines on my table.

There are also the “Comprehension,” “Speech” and “Dictated Speech” columns, as well as additional characteristics: speed, phonetics (native or accented) and about a dozen others. We can conduct an analysis for any speaker; it only takes 20-30 minutes of communicating with them.

There are probably 200–300 active speakers of the Nanai language. There are more who understand but do not speak — about 400 people.

This seems like a significant amount for a small-numbered indigenous Siberian people.

I don’t know. Villages here are more closed-off, more remote: Dada, Dzhuen, Achan. In Dada, the lower threshold for speaking the language is probably 50 years old, and understanding is about 40 years old. I am 35 years old, and there are no people my age who speak Nanai. And there are almost no people who understand it, just a few. In Dzhuen, it seems to me, this threshold is a little lower. There’s a woman of about 30 who lives there and can hold a conversation in Nanai. And there are villages where 60- and 70-year-olds don’t speak at all.

No matter what book I pick up on sociolinguistics in the North, I always see the speaking threshold of 50 years. For example, Nikolai Vakhtin wrote back in 1993 about the “breakthrough generation”— the middle generation. The older generation speaks and is oriented towards a minority language, while the younger generation does not speak. But he wrote this book in the 1990s and these were completely different people. And once again, we are talking about the generational boundary.

Yes, there are two general ideas about this. The first is that as people grow up, they begin to remember the language. There is an article by Australian linguist Nicholas Evans, “The last speaker is dead—long live the last speaker!” — when conservative speakers speak, less well-spoken speakers remain silent in front of them. And I have observed this myself. You come to a village and ask: “Where are the native speakers?” They tell me about one woman, I go to see her and hear that she doesn’t speak very well. But she is very conservative, she shuts everyone down because they say things “wrong.” And they are all silent. As soon as I talk to them without her, everyone else immediately becomes more active and suddenly begins to speak Nanai.

The second possibility is that this is an observational error. What I am saying now could have been said about the Nanai language 20 years ago, but for a larger number of villages. In Sikachi-Alyan (75 kilometers from Khabarovsk—and the closer to the city, the worse), for example, there are only a few speakers. We still have dozens. But 20 years ago, the situation in Sikachi-Alyan was probably similar to ours.

Finally, researchers often try to search for good speakers through their own channels (snowball sampling), and some may be excluded from this sample, as many hide their imperfect proficiency.

Nikolai Vakhtin calls the tendency for interest in a native language to grow in adulthood “regressive language revitalization.”

In Dada, we work with 50-year-olds. We talked to several people who are about 50, and now with their help we are trying to get 40-year-olds to converse with us.

What do you mean by “get them to converse?”

They understood the Nanai language, but did not speak it, and we began to constantly conduct conversational practices with them and try to speak. Recently, the head teacher—she’s about my age — tried to speak Nanai in the staff room. Meaning that you go into the staff room and they’re chatting about work in Nanai. Awesome, isn't it? A few years ago, this would have been impossible to imagine.
Vasily Kharitonov with Tatyana Molozhavaya. Photo: Vasily Kharitonov.
And who is “we?”

I generally do everything with my partner Tatyana Molozhavaya, and she’s a native Nanai speaker. Once upon a time she had also forgotten her language, and then worked for several years to remember it. I tried to speak Nanai with everyone around me. She is still sometimes criticized by people saying that she speaks poorly. But she turned herself from a passive carrier of the language into an active one.

I believe that Tatyana’s participation greatly influenced the success of many of our events, because there are those who speak Nanai well, but don’t know how to work with people. They don’t understand what’s going on in the mind of a person who understands but does not speak.

To a large extent, my contribution is simply supporting Tatiana in her initiatives. What we do at the school is the result of her work and her influence. In a number of cases, I simply support her morally, suggest something, or simply say: “Yes, this is all fantastic, don’t give up.”

What you’re doing with Tatyana — trying to get the older ones to “loosen up” so that they speak with the younger generations — what do you call this, an experiment, or activism? How do you classify this project?

It’s not a project. I actually think of it as a kind of lifestyle. I used to think of it from the perspective of trying to influence someone. My attitude towards the situation has changed a lot. Sometimes it seems that I’m doing all this for my own sake, so that I have someone to talk to in Nanai. I try to get others to talk so they can have a conversation with me. Now, any inkling of messianism has gone out the window.

I even sometimes think about the school in the same vein: I go to school and teach children not for their sake, not for the sake of the Nanai language, not for the sake of anything else, but simply so that I can speak Nanai with the children. This is such a point of growth for me — being able to speak Nanai with children at school — specifically children, and not adults. My lessons in the lower grades are taught in only Nanai. I don't speak Russian at all.
A horror film in the Nanai language by Vasily Kharitonov and Tatiana Molozhavaya and their students

How do you combine your academic work with teaching at the school and your work with Tatyana to “loosen up” the elders? Where does your scientific practice fit into the mix?

I’m coming from a place of practice, all my reports and research are becoming more practical. If I didn’t have work, I’d probably be off fishing right now. Scientific progress has ceased to be a priority for me. Sometimes it’s interesting, but I’m just trying to describe practical experience and my own speculations in academic language and come up with all sorts of theories that we push at different levels, including the highest.

My colleague Kostya Zamyatin, who works on similar things — we don’t quite agree: he believes that if an awesome language policy is sent down from the top, everything will instantly start working. And I see this from the point of view of the village and what its residents want. Nevertheless, it seems to me that state language policy is important; it should create conditions for languages to develop from the ground up. Because languages in general are always found on the ground, deep in the country, in unprivileged places. And this rural viewpoint is dearer and more interesting to me than an academic or political one.

By the way, Zamyatin recently published an excellent article about why scientific research on language policy doesn’t find applications in real politics.

On the attitude of schoolchildren and youth to the Nanai language

It seems to me that language and emotion are closely related. What attitude do the young people have toward the language?

Young people have different attitudes depending on their personal experiences. What experiences are most common? Nanai is what was taught in school. The instruction was difficult, uninteresting and didn’t stick. That’s the first impression.

It’s like if you went to music school, but only retain the most unpleasant memories and as a result don’t play.

Yes. And overall, it’s not uncommon for someone to have a problem with not knowing the language. Quite a lot of young people, knowing that I speak Nanai, feel uncomfortable because of this and take the aggression out on me. It’s not like they conspire against me or do it in a roundabout way, they tell me directly: “You’re great, but because of this I have an [inferiority] complex and don’t really want to be friends with you.”

For some people, this issue is very painful and even leads to internalized racism. “I don’t like feeling like a Nanai, and I want my children to be Russian, I want to marry a Russian,” says one of the girls. About one person out of ten will think this way, eight will think: “The Nanai language is something important and interesting, but hard to understand. We are ready to participate in something like this, but we are not completely certain.” And only for one person out of ten it will be of the utmost importance: “I will do anything, just let me learn this language.”

I don’t like that activists constantly want to force things on people. It’s more important for me not to force those who don’t want to, but to give an opportunity to those who do.

How do you build a rapport with children?

For some of the kids, I really am an interesting and important figure. Well, I tried to build this up myself, I like hanging around kids. I speak Nanai with elementary school children. I think they’ve figured it out by now, but for some time they didn’t even know that I spoke Russian. For many of them, I am like an adult friend. I speak Nanai to them, and they all try to speak Nanai back. When I go to the school, not a single child greets me in Russian.

The prestige of a language is not about making the language fashionable. Well, that’s a part of it, sure, but it is much more important that people who are authority figures speak the language. But in other circles, I don’t hold the same authority, of course.

How did you manage to hide the fact that you know Russian from the children for so long?

I came to school to work, and during the first classes I spoke only Nanai, although it was difficult. But the children got used to it. And then, when I substituted in other lessons for the same classes, they realized that I spoke Russian quite well and, frankly, their motivation to speak Nanai dropped. I was disappointed in myself. I should not have substituted other subjects, I should have just continued speaking only Nanai.

Last year I was painting the house, and some kids walked by. They spoke to me in Nanai and I spoke Nanai back. Some kids from a neighboring village came with them, and they were translating what I said in Nanai to them.

I began to pick out the kids who’ve fallen through the cracks, who have a lot of time, who hang out on the street. I didn’t even have to look for them, at some point they found me. They simply lacked attention and I could give it to them.

For example, I used to study Buryat with my daughter online over video. And I realized that after about four or five lessons, the seed is planted and they begin to realize that they can speak in another language and understand something. I think that this readiness to understand is the very first stage of language learning. After a few months, real comprehension appears, and after some more time, the children will probably start speaking more fluently, but I haven’t gotten to that point yet. They speak very poorly, but understand quite well.

How many hours of Nanai are taught in school now?

It's different for everyone. In most schools, it’s an elective. There are schools where students in the upper grades use one curriculum and the lower grades use another. At our school, we have three hours: two hours of Nanai, one hour of Nanai literature. For everyone.

Is it a mandatory course?

Yes. Let me remind you that the entire village is Nanai. We have Russian-looking children or children with Tatar surnames, but they are still considered Nanai, and their “native” language is Nanai. Nobody argues with this, this question is not even raised. It’s just an accepted truth: the Nanai live here.

I assume there is a shortage of Nanai teachers?

It’s a difficult question, because there seems to be enough, but many of them no longer speak Nanai. There are villages where teachers deliberately switched to teaching electives so that they only have interested students and can teach in whatever format they like. Sometimes language activists think that electives are always bad for the language, but on the contrary, sometimes they are good.
Schoolchildren of Dada village with certificates after the contest "In Praising our Motherland" dedicated to the 85th anniversary of Khabarovsk Krai. Many of the contestants performed in the nomination "Artistic Reading" in the Nanai language. Spring 2023. Photo: Vasily Kharitonov.
As a newcomer, is it easier for you to teach, build relationships with students and families, and observe?

Yes, as a newcomer, it’s easy for me to change habits. And preserving languages is like turning back the tide, it’s a change in habits. From my perspective, communicating in a language, learning a language, and language activism is more like sports than science or culture. When you train, your skill grows. If you stop exercising, your fitness isn’t preserved at a certain level — it starts to decline. Starting to exercise is difficult — quit drinking and smoking, start running in the morning — because it involves changing habits.

By the way, though, I’m not quite a stranger here anymore. I find it quite difficult to do research. For my work at the Academy of Sciences, I have the task of researching the state of the Nanai language. To do this, I need to ask people: what do you think about the Nanai language? How do you rate your level of Nanai? It’s easier for me to do this in villages other than my own.

Which villages do you go to? There are two villages that you “operate” in, so to speak. Do you teach in one village and conduct field work in another?

I have several other villages, I go to different villages for different purposes. But this particular type of research, where I walked the streets and, as a “witness” of a banned organization, pestered everyone with this research, took place in the village of Dzhuen. It’s essentially a twin to our village in terms of the state of the language.

I also go to other villages to speak with people in Nanai, to form a conversation club. We created something like that in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The first year I was at every monthly meeting. I missed most of them this year. I used to like going to cities, I was still a city-dweller and wanted to unwind, so twice a month I went either to Khabarovsk or Komsomolsk-on-Amur. And now I like it better here, in the countryside.
Vasily Kharitonov on the road to Ulchsky District. There he and his colleague Tatyana Molozhavaya recorded conversations in Ulchi and Nanai and researched the degree of mutual understanding between speakers of these close languages. 2023.
How do you think your students’ language journey will progress? What path do you see them taking?

I imagine a Nanai-language college, where they teach various interesting subjects, from sewing to programming. In a few years, when today's third-graders grow up and finish ninth grade, there should be a Nanai college opening for a small number of students, four or five people.

At some point, I began to imagine this not as a real brick-and-mortar college, but rather a nomadic institution. Two or three students go to one village and for two months, they learn certain skills from a master, such as singing. Then they go to learn how to make fish skins, then they go to study pedagogy and linguistics with me in Dada for a couple of months, then somewhere else. And so they wander around for two or four years, traveling to different places. For the upperclassmen, perhaps it will be not only Nanai, but also closely related languages.

This idea took root in my mind when we were returning from the Ulchi region, where I spoke Nanai, and they spoke to me in Ulchi. These are, in principle, closely related languages. I was so excited that they spoke to me in a different language and I understood quite well. There is a wonderful woman there. Her daughter does not speak but understands very well. Maybe by then, she’ll be talking.
Experiment of mutual comprehension of Nanai and Ulchi languages.

On the linguistic map of Siberia

Which Siberian languages are doing well?

There are two languages that clearly stand out, Sakha and Tuvan, and we place them in a separate group. Well, along with Tatar, Chechen and Ingush, in my opinion. And it can be said that much more is done for Sakha than is done for Tuvan. Therefore, it seems to me that Sakha is a slowly “degrading” language and that Tuvan ranks “higher” on the language preservation scale, but faces the possibility of a much greater fall, because the language infrastructure has not been developed to the same extent, and the prestige of Tuvan is much lower. You might arrive at a hotel in Kyzyl, speak Tuvan, and they will kick you out. Sakha doesn’t have this issue. Sakha is used in many places in Yakutia and they try to use it in official contexts. Almost everyone in Tuva knows Tuvan, but the level of prestige is low.

And the rural stigma [the stereotypical association of a minority language only with rural areas— Author’s note] hasn’t been dismantled? In Chukotka, where I worked for a long time, I didn’t observe this stigma. On the contrary, I saw an increase in interest and respect for minority languages on the part of urban and rural residents, both natives and newcomers.

I think this is connected with another phenomenon. The language that everyone around you in the village speaks will not be very prestigious. But in areas where this language has already been lost, people have a very aspirational attitude towards it, and in Chukotka, this is perhaps felt on a regional scale. This can also be observed in Mansi and many other languages.

The situation in Buryat differs greatly from the east to the west. Broadly speaking, in the areas where Buryat isn’t spoken and the language is on its last legs, people get all up in arms, saying that something needs to be done urgently. Whereas in some places in the Aginsky district of the Trans-Baikal Territory, they’ll speak Buryat from dawn until dusk, and they have a simple attitude towards it, “we’re just chatting.”

It seems to me that it is easier to increase the prestige of a language than to save a dying language.

I believe that we should use the opportunity to introduce certain people to each other. Those who live in the city and no longer speak the language convey the idea of ​​the value of language to the rural residents who still speak it. “We need to hear the language, guys, start shooting vlogs.” It’s somewhat effective. Urban Buryats should articulate their requests to hear the language more often, create conditions for it to be spoken and carry out all sorts of initiatives in the cities. So you’re from the village and speak Buryat—come join our language club. Te best ones can “rise in the ranks,” given the opportunity, and through Buryat, will be able to join the prestigious circles in Ulan-Ude, for example.

There’s a great project being conducted in Udmurtia. Urban youth travel to rural areas and teach film classes. And all the instruction is in Udmurt. Cool guys from the big city roll into town and essentially organize these events in the Udmurt language. This is great. But I want it to develop into something more. For example, college and vocational training courses in the city, jobs associated with the Udmurt language. You speak Udmurt and end up in prestigious, fashionable, trendy places. I think this would signify significant growth.

Let’s return to Siberian languages.

In Russia there is another fascinating group of minority languages that stands out from the general linguistic landscape. These are languages in which the linguistic infrastructure is not at all developed, but are nevertheless more resilient than others. As a rule, these languages are found in remote, inaccessible areas and are preserved in a relatively monolingual environment.

I first included nomadic languages like Nenets in this group, but then it turned out that they had a number of characteristics similar to the minority languages of Dagestan. It’s a slightly unusual group. Tuvan, for example, has similar features. Some small languages of Dagestan are spoken by thousands of people, but have practically no infrastructure whatsoever. For instance, there have been many more books published in Nanai than in the Karata language, which, according to various estimates, is spoken by 8 to 20 thousand people. Only a few hundred people speak Nanai, and at least 60 books have been published, while only a handful have been published in Karata.

Nenets already has some infrastructure, of course: Nenetsi language courses, books, small television and radio shows, vlogs, Nenets covers of popular songs, among other things. But in the IT sector, for example, there is a clear gap for the language of such a relatively powerful demographic. There are not even commonly used layouts. Nenets write using a comma: “ӈ” is written as “н,” for example “н,oпoй” (Lat.: “n,opoy”; the numeral “one” in Nenets), but should be “ӈопой” (Lat.: “ŋopoy”). There’s a framework for Nanai unlike the Nenets.
Schoolchildren from the village of Dada use the Heseku app during a lesson in the Nanai language. The app includes Russian-Nanai and Nanai-Russian dictionaries, as well as a phrasebook with many phrases voiced by native speakers on topics ranging from "Family" to "Going to the mountains." Vasily Kharitonov and his colleagues in the "Country of Languages" project have released mobile applications (dictionaries and phrasebooks) on the languages of Khabarovsk Krai.
After Nenets, there are probably Khanty languages, of which there are three, and they are all quite different from one another.

There are languages with a continuous thread of spoken communication, like Nanai, and others with intermittent ones. These languages have islands of stability. Take the Mansi language, for example. In the North part of the Sverdlovsk Oblast there is an “island” of several small villages deep in the taiga where children speak Mansi, but several of these settlements only have about ten children.

What is needed to revitalize the Nanai language

You talked about some of the most popular languages. But Nanai is not among the most resilient of Siberian languages. What work must be done to revitalize it?

It's important to me that the Nanai language has Nanai-speaking people who can work together. I believe that five people working with the language in one village can create conditions for revitalization. They can speak to each other as they work, teach people of different ages, and help those with poor language skills to talk. And they can draw from more fluent speakers and attract them as well.

A rural conversation club could play a key role. We do it in Dada, but it’s not a regular thing yet. We have too many different things on the agenda, we grab onto anything we can, but there aren’t enough of us. There should be three more, but for now, it’s just the two of us. We hear some good Nanai from our elders, and this is inspiring. The middle generation doesn’t know the language at all, and frankly, I’m not counting on them. It's just important that they have a positive attitude so that they believe that the Nanai language can be learned. I may not be able to teach Nanai to high school students, but they should have the feeling that it’s something cool, that the Nanai language can be learned and that they should return to this issue in the future.

Do you believe that this gap exists? That there’s an older generation who speaks, a “lost” middle generation, and a younger generation who still has the chance to learn the language, with the right attitude from the middle generation? It’s like with religion, when the older generation is more religious, the middle generation is atheistic and the younger generation, who were raised in post-Soviet times, discovers religion anew, despite the atheism of their parents.

I really perceive the preservation of languages as a kind of religion and sometimes I pull some tricks from there. There may even be four generations to consider here. There are speakers, there are people who understand, who can be coaxed into speaking, there are the young parents who need to be convinced of how cool the language is, so that they believe in us as a team, so that they send their children to our language nest, where we speak Nanai with them for a significant part of their time during the week.

Some young children come to our public building, which we conventionally call the “Nanai Language House,” but this isn’t a regular occurrence. Some language activists I know say: “Build a language nest right away.” But for me it is important that we have a team with experience, so that we ourselves are ready for these children. If I cannot talk to my child about any topic in Nanai, it means that I am not yet ready to become a teacher in a language nest.

Which practices do you trust and which, in your opinion, are capable of changing the linguistic landscape and halting or reversing the linguistic shift of minority languages towards Russian?

There is one theory that I recently came up with, and which I really like: There are three main points of influence on a language. First is speaking the language at a fluent level for everyday use. Second is the desire to use the language. These are two separate components. And the third is the public – here you use the language. Maybe you know the language and are ready and willing to use it, but sometimes it’s not very “prestigious,” so you don’t. So if you have the desire and the ability, where are you going to use it?

If a certain, specific person does not have any of these components, then communication will not take place. For example, say someone doesn’t know the language, but really wants to use it. Nothing will happen. Someone else knows the language, but thinks it’s “for hicks and rubes.” No communication will occur there, either. Or they know the language and want to speak it, but there is no one to speak with, or maybe there is someone, but it’s some boring old lady and they want to talk with other teenagers.

It turns out that all three of these components can be influenced through certain practices, and moreover, they are measurable.

What method of proliferating a minority language do you consider most successful?

You go to Dagestan and ask some old woman: “How did you master the language? For example, you, an Avar, have mastered the Lezgin or Tabasaran language. How did you do it?” She says: “My mother-in-law and I cooked in the kitchen together, she taught me everything.”; “Taught you in what language?” ; “In her own language, of course.” She acquired the language in the process of doing activities together.

This is an example of the master/apprentice method, which was described by the best minds in California, and then this book was translated into Russian, and now it’s generally considered to be the cutting-edge in teaching technology. Education is perceived by a significant part of Russian society as a special system, within which there is no room for visiting your neighborhood old man and learning something from him. You must read books, master theory, sit through classes at your desk. But it’s possible that your neighbor can teach you everything. Interestingly, in some areas, this is perceived as normal: for example, few people studied programming within the walls of some universities.

What do you consider the ideal language policy?

I would probably put an accent on multilingualism across all the different regions so that every native language of the territory has the chance to live. The Nanai college that still only exists in my head – why doesn’t it fit into the regular educational system? Because until the institution recruits a group of 25 people, it will not receive funding. And for a minority language to function in the vocational field, the educational institution must be kept in a state of readiness, even if there is not a single student. We have no students, so we sit, develop, invent, bide our time. A student comes and we’re in operation. And then every territorial language must have this opportunity in education and in other areas.

Multilingualism often carves out its own place, but then the state steps in. In schools in mountainous Dagestan, several languages are spoken, but then a strict rule is established: ‘We speak Russian in school so that we don’t offend anyone.’ We’re all Lezgins, but if there’s one Avar, we’re going to speak Russian because it’s a sort of common space. It’s the same in the North. They hold some kind of event with the indigenous people in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, for example. If only Nenets are invited to it, then it could be held in the Nenets language, it would be cool: some big event in the Nenets language. But then the Khanty will be offended. And then this event is made interethnic, and everything interethnic is Russian-language. Most events related to national themes are held under the article ‘interethnic harmony.’ And interethnic harmony means the Russian language.”

It turns out that they don’t take into account the real multilingualism that exists and which simply needs to be supported at the right moments. And then they say: “Oh, why are our languages disappearing? We must try to do something for them, teach them the language.” The idea of “teaching a language” is a very old-fashioned perception of reality. When it comes to preserving languages, for example, Buryat, they start saying, “Now we’ll come up with some super cool courses for studying Buryat,” et cetera. And there are tens of thousands of people who speak the language! Nobody needs traditional school or college knowledge, and at this time the people speaking the language aren’t involved in these things, there are no jobs available for them, their aspirations and desires related to the language are not considered.

Simply acknowledging the multilingualism that already exists could be a huge first step.
  • Vasily Kharitonov

     Linguist at the Institute of Linguistics of the Russian Academy of Sciences
  • Dmitry Oparin

    Université Bordeaux Montaigne
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