The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







This article is about the political term. For localization of computers and software, see Russification (computers) .

Russification refers to both official and unofficial policies of Imperial Russia and Soviet Union with respect to their national constituents and to national minorities in Russia proper aimed at Russian domination. In a narrow sense, Russification is used to denote influence of the Russian language on other Slavic languages.

The two main areas of Russification are politics and culture. Some consider shifts in demographics in favour of Russian population to be a form of Russification as well. In politics, an element of Russification is assigning Russian nationals to leading administrative positions in national institutions. In culture, Russification primarily amounts to domination of the Russian language in official business and strong influence of Russian language on the national ones.

One of the examples of Russification was replacement of the Polish language by Russian in areas of Poland-Lithuania after the Partitions of Poland. In particular, after the January Uprising of 1863, in 1864 Polish was banned in public places; in the 1880s Polish was banned in schools and offices of the Congress Kingdom. A similar development was in Lithuania: its Governor General Mikhail Muravyov instituted a complete ban on the Latin alphabet and Lithuanian printed matter. The ban was lifted only in 1904. Still another example is Ems Ukaz of 1876, banning the Ukrainian language.

As a result of this policy, quite a few national languages, such as Tatar and Belarusian, were perceived by many as rural or uneducated, if not useless for study at school.

After the 1917 revolution, the intellectuals of several Central Asian countries and Tatarstan established new standards for the local language. In many cases they substituted the Arabic alphabet with adapted versions of the Latin alphabet, usually inspired by the Turkish alphabet. During the rule of Stalin, these alphabets were replaced by adaptations of the Cyrillic alphabet. This also happened when Moldova was taken from Romania after the Second World War. The Moldovan language restored the Cyrillic alphabet abandoned by Romanians in the 19th century. Several of these countries have changed to a Latin alphabet since the break up of the Soviet Union.

In the Soviet Union, publications in technical and scientific journals, with rare exceptions, were in Russian. This led to underdevelopment of modern technical and scientific terminology in national languages, further degrading their status. While in almost all Soviet republics bilingualism was official, it was "asymmetric": the titular nation learned Russian, whereas immigrated Russians generally did not learn the local language.

One of the forms of Russification is using an official script (Cyrillic) in Russia, even some languages (Tatar, Karelian) was used Latin before this law was accepted by Duma.

Today russification is not an official politic of Russia, but now russification goes without any political reasons: in all Russian regions, also like in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan Russian landuage is a language of hight education, trade and businees, so lots of people prefer to speak with own children in Russian to provide them "happy future".

See also

External link

  • De-Russification of Tatar

Last updated: 02-06-2005 02:42:59
Last updated: 05-03-2005 17:50:55