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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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Olga Ivanova - Language situation in post-Soviet Kyiv: Ukrainian and Russian in the linguistic landscape and communicative practices


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Olga Ivanova

Language situation in post-Soviet Kyiv: Ukrainian and Russian in the linguistic landscape and communicative practices

1 Kyiv as a sociolinguistic community

Socio-political transition in post-Soviet Ukraine brought about important shifts in its sociolinguistic situation. In response to the Soviet doctrine of politically driven identity (Grossman 2007: 31), Ukraine drifted towards national consolidation and identity construction, after gaining independence in 1991. Since then, Ukrainian policy has been shaped by different approaches to nationhood.1 Within that policy, the role of the Ukrainian language has been revisited in the context of a binary re-construction of Ukrainian and Russian ethnicities and Ukrainian-Russian bilingualism. In Ukraine, “[t]he struggle between two related languages and correlating identities has shaped the social and political dynamics” (Bilaniuk & Melnyk 2008: 343).

In the framework of the socio-political and sociolinguistic transition of post-Soviet Ukraine, its capital Kyiv2 has also experienced dynamic changes. In academic literature it attracted special interest for its sociolinguistic state of affairs and was studied by many well-known scholars, such as Aneta Pavlenko (2010; 2012). It stands out as a specific scenario of language management, for two main reasons. On the one hand, Kyiv is a multilingual urban setting, where one language, Russian, was dominant and prestigious for centuries (Hamm 1993: 17, 100). Since its foundation approximately 1500 years ago (cf. Badakh 2012), Kyiv had been a multicultural and multi-ethnic city, where, following the annexation of the city and the left-bank Ukraine by...

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