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Sociolinguistic Transition in Former Eastern Bloc Countries

Two Decades after the Regime Change

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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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Birute Klaas-Lang - State policies and institutional language choice: The vitality of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian in higher education

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Birute Klaas-Lang

State policies and institutional language choice: The vitality of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian in higher education1

1 Introduction

When researchers developed the concept of language vitality and its indicators, they had in mind mostly small and endangered languages. For example, in 2002 and 2003 UNESCO asked an international group of linguists to develop a framework for determining the vitality of a language in order to assist in policy development, identification of needs, and appropriate safeguarding measures. This ad hoc expert group on endangered languages produced a landmark concept paper entitled “Language Vitality and Endangerment”, which established the following nine criteria (Brenzinger et al. 2003): 1) intergenerational language transmission, 2) absolute number of speakers, 3) proportion of the speakers of the given language in the total population, 4) trends in existing language domains, 5) response to new domains and media, 6) materials for education and literacy, 7) governmental language attitudes and policies, 8) community members’ attitudes to their language, and 9) the amount and quality of documentation.

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