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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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Meilutė Ramonienė & Loreta Vilkienė - Changes in the social value of languages in urban areas of Lithuania, 1990–


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Meilutė Ramonienė & Loreta Vilkienė

Changes in the social value of languages in urban areas of Lithuania, 1990–2010

1 Introduction

After the reinstatement of independence in 1990, socio-political changes in Lithuania were followed not only by a new language policy, but also by clear shifts in the social values attributed to various languages. The status of the Lithuanian language has changed, the place of Russian in social life has become different, and English has become an important means of communication due to globalisation and opened borders. The relationship between ethnic identity and the languages of various ethnic groups has also changed. This shift was especially obvious for groups of Russian speaking minorities (not only Russians, but also a part of the Polish, Byelorussian and Ukrainian population). All these changes were most noticeable in cities and towns (e. g. Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda, Pasvalys) where about two thirds of the Lithuanian population live.

The changing linguistic situation in Lithuania and the linguistic behaviour of ethnic minorities in particular, has been at the focus of different studies. Sociologists Kasatkina (2003), Leončikas (2007), Beresnevičiūtė (2005a, 2005b), Juozeliūnienė (1996), Juška (1999), political scientist Savukynas (2000) as well as social geographers, e.g. Pileckas (2003), and others have analysed the varying levels of adaptation to the new socio-political situation amongst ethnic minorities. The rise of interest among sociolinguists is primarily related to the use of languages in different spheres...

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