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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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Brigita Séguis - Post-Soviet multilingualism: Code-switching in the Polish community in Lithuania


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Brigita Séguis

Post-Soviet multilingualism: Code-switching in the Polish community in Lithuania

1 Introduction

During the years of transition that followed the disintegration of the Soviet Union, a range of language policies were introduced across the Baltic states in order to remove Russian from the public sphere and reinstate the respective titular languages. While driven by the shared aim of distancing themselves from Russia and the Russian language, each of the newly independent states was faced with different challenges. On the eve of independence both Latvia and Estonia were home to the large Russian-speaking population that settled there following the industrial migration initiated by the Soviet government. Integration of such large proportions of L1 Russian speakers into the respective mainstream societies proved to be a difficult task, the evidence of which can be seen today – two decades post independence, Russian speakers still display low levels of competence in Latvian and Estonian (Pavlenko 2013: 263). With regard to Latvia, Hazans (2010: 126) explains that its unusually large minority population, which accounts for more than 40%, is geographically dispersed and lives primarily in a different language environment despite being locally born. Although in Estonia the Russian-speaking population is less dispersed geographically, it is more socially separated compared to Latvia. Despite significant improvements in language proficiency levels among the Russian-speaking population of the two Baltic states, some studies conclude that the language issue remains one of the most crucial factors influencing social inclusion and...

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