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Sociolinguistic Transition in Former Eastern Bloc Countries

Two Decades after the Regime Change


Edited By Marián Sloboda, Petteri Laihonen and Anastassia Zabrodskaja

This volume offers empirical perspectives on the current sociolinguistic situations in former Eastern Bloc countries. Its seventeen chapters analyse phenomena such as language choice, hierarchies and ideologies in multilingualism, language policies, minority languages in new legal, educational, business and migratory contexts, as well as the position of English in the region. The authors use various methodological approaches – including surveys, discourse analyses, descriptions and analyses of linguistic landscapes, and ethnography – in order to deal with sociolinguistic issues in eight countries and seven regions, from Brandenburg, Germany, in the West to Sakhalin, Russia, in the East.

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Petteri Laihonen, Anastassia Zabrodskaja & Marián Sloboda - What transition, which sociolinguistics?


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Petteri Laihonen, Anastassia Zabrodskaja & Marián Sloboda

What transition, which sociolinguistics?

1 Introduction

The present interdisciplinary book aims to investigate various aspects of the sociolinguistic situations of the former Soviet Union and Eastern European countries which have started to emerge after the fall of the communist regimes at the turn of the 1990s. The book examines new sociolinguistic phenomena that have resulted from and accompanied the processes of transition.

The transition itself has been multifaceted and has occurred in various directions in different countries: from communist socialism to neoliberal democracy or authoritarianism, from a centrally planned economy to a free-market system or a mixture of both, from communal life to competitive individualism in some countries, from the policy of closed borders to international openness or a leaking closure in the context of increasing mobility, transnationalism and globalization. One of the most topical sociolinguistic dilemmas relates to changing status and use of languages (this is seen in the debate over the former language of interethnic communication – in Russian, язык межнационального общения – versus national/titular languages), including top-down initiatives and legislative measures by the nationalizing states as well as a bottom-up shift in everyday individual linguistic practices and cultural orientations.

The book covers a vast geographical area, including East Central Europe (the former German Democratic Republic, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania and Serbia) and the post-Soviet Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), a European republic of the former Soviet Union (Ukraine), a...

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