From the History of Identity and Language Planning Policy in Georgia

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From the History of Identity and Language Planning Policy in Georgia

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Publication Article, other scientific
Title From the History of Identity and Language Planning Policy in Georgia
Author(s) Kock Kobaidze, Manana
Date 2008
English abstract
During the Soviet period, languages and identities formed a complicated hierarchy in Georgia as well as in the whole Soviet Union. Russian was a major language relative to Georgian and Georgian was a major language relative to other languages in Georgia. At the same time, Georgians constitute a minority group in some regions of Georgia and Georgian is a language of the minority in these regions. Ambiguity of status is observable among other groups as well. The cases of reversed assimilation have occurred: A minority group appears as a regional majority and assimilates representatives of the majority group. It has also been attested that one minority group assimilates another minority group. The crucial factor is the demographic factor and the intergroup sociopsychological climate, which was formed when Georgia itself was either a weakened state (17th-18th centuries) or a part of another state (19th-20th centuries) that tried to change the national face of Georgia. The Russian policy aimed to grant all languages the same rights on the whole territory of the Soviet Union despite the national borders (except those languages that are main languages of population outside the borders of the Soviet Union Assyrian, Kurdish, Greek). This was meant to create a new language balance among all languages where only Russian should work as a means of interethnic relations, and place Georgian at the same level as Armenian, Azerbaijanian, and other languages in Georgia as a first step of the Russification. Changes during the post-Soviet period have been reflected on this hierarchy. After the Soviet period the second group of minorities turned out to be minorities only in relation to Georgians lacking the Soviet (Russian) state with its supranational and even suprareligious or atheistic ideology (communism). Thus this second group found itself to be a part not of the Soviet Union (where every nationality had its contribution, and everybody had the same “elder brother“ Russia), but to be a minority in Georgia, an old country with its very clearly defined own historic and cultural face. Some of these groups felt like minorities for the first time relatively to their former “equals“. Protest against the new hierarchy and attempts to maintain and more precisely to obtain a new status in Georgia have emerged. The choice of the forms of these attempts depends on the demographic and geographic situation of the group. The hard socio-economic situation in Georgia also plays its part in this case. This gave opportunity to Russia to retain immediate ties to any group within the former “middle-stage” state Georgia and even grant its citizens with the citizenship of Russia as a new means of expansion after the supra-national state fall. This article is an attempt to present a general review of these processes and to describe the means employed by the Soviet State for replacing the traditionally formed identities by the new Soviet one. One step of the Soviet policy - to disintegrate, to deconstruct the inner structure of all republics - turned out to be reached to a significant degree, the next step - to integrate all these parts around one centre - the Soviet identity involving the shared history, culture, language, ideology, has failed. The complex of older values appeared to be stronger than the new Soviet one. Under the “umbrella” of the “supranational” Soviet citizenship of the supranational state the consciousness of real “informal” ethnic belonging to own ethnic groups has been preserved and developed among both Georgians and other ethnic groups in Georgia as a compensation of the lacking national citizenship. The independent Georgia faces the challenge to integrate the population of Georgia not only administratively and economically, but also ideologically and linguistically.
Publisher Chikobava Institute of Linguistics, Georgia
Host/Issue Iberiul-Kavkasiuri Enatmecniereba;36
ISSN 1987-6572
Pages 128-142
Language geo (iso)
Subject(s) identity
language policy
Soviet language policy
Post-Soviet development
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION::Languages and linguistics
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