Mother tongue and language use in Armenian and Russian schools in Georgia

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This paper deals with the different stages of language maintenance and language shift among some minority groups in connection with the language of education and character of settlement in Georgia. This paper is focused on the comparison of Armenian respondents educated via Russian and via Armenian, and also on Armenian respondents living in Tbilisi and in areas of compact Armenian settlement. The respondents' different understandings and self-evaluations of the notion 'mother tongue' are also touched upon.

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... The third complicating factor in some of the countries was the multiethnic and multilingual composition of the population, with Russian traditionally functioning as a lingua franca in interethnic communication and in commu- nication between minority communities and the state authorities. To give but one example, in Georgia, even today, Russian may be used in oral and written communication between Armenian and Azeri communities and the state authorities because Georgian authorities are much more likely to understand documents in Russian than in Armenian or Azerbaijanian, while members of the local communities may be more fluent in Russian than in Georgian (Bezyrganova, 2006a;Bulghadarian, 2007;Kock Kobaidze, 2001;Popjanevski, 2006;Wheatley, 2006). Last but not least, in some countries, most notably Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, titular languages were not sufficiently developed to immediately assume all relevant functions and required further corpus planning and standardization (Alpatov, 2000;Orusbaev et al., 2008;Smagulova, 2008). ...
... The number of Russianlanguage schools has been drastically reduced in the country since 1991. By 2001Á2002, Georgia had 63 Russian-language schools, located in Tbilisi, in villages inhabited by members of the Russian Dukhobor community, and in places with large minority populations (Khruslov, 2006;Kock Kobaidze, 2001;Wheatley, 2006). Russian-language schools also function in secessionist, formerly autonomous republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, supported by Russia. ...
... In a survey conducted in December 2006, 74.5% of the respondents in Samtskhe-Javaheti and 83.1% in Kvemo-Kartli reported no competence in Georgian (NITG, 2007). As a result, the communication between local administrations, in particular in the Samtskhe-Javaheti region, and the central Georgian authorities is still carried out in Russian (Bulghadarian, 2007;Kock Kobaidze, 2001;Popjanevski, 2006;Wheatley, 2006). This continuous reliance on Russian presents a major obstacle to implementation of language shift by the Georgian government. ...
... Notably, students in Georgian Russian-language schools include not only ethnic Russians but also Armenians, Greeks, Kurds, Assyrians, and Georgians whose parents choose to educate their children in Russian. At present Russian-language schools can be found in Tbilisi, in Russian villages, such as Gorelovka, Spasovka, or Orlovka, inhabited by members of the Russian Dukhobor community, and also in places with large minority populations, such as Akhalkalaki, where 80% of the population is Armenian (Kock Kobaidze 2001;Wheatley 2006). Russian-language schools also function in the secessionist, formerly autonomous republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, supported by Russia. ...
... Rather, this is a reflection of the ongoing use of Russian as a lingua franca in oral and written communication between Georgian linguistic minorities, in particular Armenian and Azeri communities, and the state authorities (Wheatley 2006). The reason for that is that Georgian authorities are much more likely to understand documents in Russian than in Armenian or Azerbaijanian, while members of the local communities may be more fluent in Russian as a second language than in Georgian (Bezirganova 2006a;Kock Kobaidze 2001;Wheatley 2006). Kock Kobaidze's (2001) study of Armenian students studying in Russian and Armenian schools in Georgia reveals the same disparity between the mother tongue reflective of one's ethnicity (Armenian) and the language learned in childhood and used in everyday communication (Russian) identified by Brown (2005) in Belarus and by Bilaniuk and Melnyk (2008) in Ukraine. ...
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В статье проводится сравнительный анализ языковой политики в отношении русского языка и языковой практики на территории четырнадцати пост-советских стран. Вначале анализируется взаимосвязь между языковой политикой, которая предопределяет статус русского языка в каждой из стран, языковой ситуацией в общественной сфере, в том числе в области образования и трудоустройства, иязыковой ситуацией в частной практике, которая позволяет понять настоящее положение русского языка и предсказать тенденции его сохранения и передачи. Анализ проводится на основе данных цензусов и обзоров, а где возможно также социолингвистических и этнографических исследований. Затем, общие тенденции развития анализируются с точки зрения исторических, социополитических, социоэкономических, демографических и лингвистических факторов, взаимоотношения между которыми ведут к тому, что в географически близких странах складываются разные языковые ситуации.
... Research of Armenian diaspora communities (e.g., Amit-Talai 1989;Bakalian 1993) and their schools (e.g., Imbens-Bailey 1996; Kobaidze 2001) has repeatedly demonstrated that command of the Armenian language is a key form of cultural capital (Bourdieu 1986) which permits participation within the imagined community. Despite the evolution of two distinct dialects (the Eastern dialect spoken in the Republic of Armenia and the Western dialect spoken in most diaspora communities), its unique script and a shared belief in the sacredness of the Armenian language have helped to connect diaspora populations with the homeland (Smith 2010). ...
The use of international curricula by minority diaspora communities poses a paradox for the construction of student identities that juxta- poses ethnonational and global discourses. Positioned in the throes of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, the Armenian School in Jerusalem uti- lizes a global curriculum while also attempting to sustain collective Armenian identity among its students, who study four languages. This ethnographic case study of the Armenian School analyzes the impact of competing discourses on identity construction. Findings reveal a pervasive ethnonational discourse based upon key ethnosymbols which promotes a powerful sense of belonging to an imagined Armenian transnation. Simultaneously, the international curriculum champions English as a dominant language and prevents the anchoring of Armenian identity within local society. Global discourses associated with the international curriculum, coupled with a lack of attachment to a concrete homeland, tend to orient graduates away from the Jerusalem community and toward opportunities abroad.
... Précisons qu'il ne s'agit pas ici d'offrir des supports pour l'enseignement en langue minoritaire, mais au contraire d'appuyer une décision de politique linguistique suivant laquelle une partie des enseignements faits sur le territoire géorgien doivent passer par la langue géorgienne (Cf. notamment Kobaidze, 2001 pour un éclairage contextuel). ...
The aim of this study is to compare the levels of intercultural sensitivity (IS) in teenage multilinguals coming from two post-communist countries: Poland (N=293) and Georgia (N=240). Aside from quantitative data the Intercultural Sensitivity Scale by Chen & Starosta., the qualitative part of the study focused on exploring quality of contacts with another culture. It was found that Polish students demonstrated significantly lower levels of intercultural sensitivity in spite of their greater foreign language experience. However, Georgian multilinguals demonstrated greater positive affect, both quantitatively (Intercultural Enjoyment as part of the IS assessment) and qualitatively (prevailing positively-valanced memories of significant cultural encounters). In both cohorts L2 (English) prevailed as the only foreign language related to intercultural sensitivity. The findings are discussed against the past and current political and linguistic situation in both countries.
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Urum people identify themselves as Turkish-speaking Pontic Greeks who left Anatolia at the beginning of the 19th century. A major group emigrated to the highlands of K’vemo K’art’li, where they still live today. They conserved the variety of Turkish that their ancestors were speaking in the time before emigration, enriched by influences from the languages in their new environment, in particular from Russian. The Urum language displays substantial similarities with the Turkish dialects of Anatolia; beyond these similarities, it displays some unique developments (e.g., in vowel harmony) as well as properties that are traced back to influences from Russian (e.g., in the use of subordinate clauses).
consists of different nationalities. The major groups are Georgians (70%), Abkhaz (1.8%), Ossetians (3%), Russians (6.3%), Azerbaijanis (5.7%), Armenians (8.1%), Jews (0.5%), Assyrians (0.1%), Greeks (1.9%), Kurds (0.6%) (1989 census). The minorities living in Georgia have different historical backgrounds, degree of identity maintenance, status and attitude to the majority. In the beginning of the 19th century, non-Georgians in Georgia made up a tenth of the population, and only 25 years later, a fourth. These drastic changes of the structure of the population in Georgia in the 19th century were caused by the wars between Russia and Turkey and between Russia and Iran. Armenians and Greeks, persecuted in Turkey and Iran, found a refuge in Georgia. Russia had a specific demographic policy during these processes.
Multilingualism. London: Routiedge
  • John Edwards
Edwards, John. 1994. Multilingualism. London: Routiedge.
Enisa da eris urtiertmimartebis problemisatvis. Language and nation
  • Mikheil Kurdiani
Kurdiani, Mikheil. 1998. Enisa da eris urtiertmimartebis problemisatvis. Language and nation. In Kartvelian heritage II, 264-268. Kutaisi Discussions. Dialectology Research Institute Affiliated to the Kutaisi Akaki Tsereteh State University.