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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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Kadri Koreinik - Multilingualism on the periphery: Valuing languages in south-eastern Estonia


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Kadri Koreinik

Multilingualism on the periphery: Valuing languages in south-eastern Estonia

1 Introduction

The post-Soviet transition has changed, among other things, the centre-periphery dynamics of power, which in turn has an impact on multilingualism, its discourses and practices (cf. Pietikäinen & Kelly-Holmes 2013). For historical reasons, the (discursive) prestige centre of the Baltic republics, tiny populations with their own pre-war states, was in the West rather than in the Soviet Union long before these states reclaimed independence in 1991 and joined the EU in 2004.1 In terms of migration, Soviet Estonia was a destination country in whose cities Russian and other non-Estonian immigrants flocked to in search of employment and urban amenities (Raun 1991: 206). In the 1990s, Estonia turned into a sending country from which mostly Russians, but other nationalities of former Soviet Union as well, returned to their original homelands (Anniste et al. 2012). A decade later, barriers to westward out-migration were relieved by the EU enlargement in 2004, especially in 2006 when a number of the EU countries opened their labour markets to new member states. Those migration flows had a considerable effect on Estonian linguistic environments, which are defined as territories that are populated by speakers, organisations and institutions, and characterised by a stable language regime, i.e. a stable pattern of language practices, different from the language regimes in neighbouring linguistic environments (Ehala et al. 2014: 499). Today, roughly a third of the Estonian population resides...

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