The language of Pushkin and Putin
11 December, 2012
The language of Pushkin and Putin
English is the language of Dollar, Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Of course, it is also Shakespeare’s, Fitzgerald’s and Hemingway’s language. Though, if it only remains the language of well-known and loved literature, it will not be spoken by half of the planet.
Russian is a different example. It is the language of Gogol, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, and the language of the former empire. But not more! It is triste to say this, but Russian is not as modern as we
would like it to be. It is the language of the great past and also the language with uncertain future...
Language is the mirror of the nation, the reflection of its strength, power and ability to expand its cultural values over the planet. Russian is not doing very well to this end. The weight of the Russian language in the international community cannot be compared with that of English, French, Spanish or Chinese. Say, in the French business school, where I am currently working on my master’s degree, almost every second student studies Spanish. Spanish-speaking people on campus do not have time to rest! Everybody wants to drink with them and exchange “hola”, “que tal” and “hasta manana” (‘hi’, ‘how are you?’ and ‘see you tomorrow’). I am not that much in demand because only one person is interested to practice Russian... She is one of the eleven students on 4000 student strong campus, who are learning the language of Pushkin and Putin.
Why the situation is like that? Because to buy Russian oil, one does not need to learn the language. One also does not need the language to sell shampoos and diapers on the Russian market. The multinational can just hire Russian managers, that will adapt any product for the local market. There is another – delicate – point: ourselves we do not make a lot to conserve and promote our language.
RussiaToday TV-channel, created with an ambition to improve Russian image and promote Russian culture, broadcasts in several different languages, but not in Russian. At the same time the attitude to the language inside the country matters a lot!
Just one example to show. One of the lectures at my business school. Professor asks four Chinese students to come at the desk and help him to make an experiment. The task is to translate from English into Chinese and vice versa the names of multinationals: Apple, Nike, BMW etc. It turns out that in China all this names are translated in the native language. In the national newspaper you will not come across the “Nike” name written in latin alphabet. There will be a hieroglyph or several hieroglyphs instead, that will sound the same way or give the idea of what is the company’s business. Respect-worthy “language patriotism”, that makes Chinese more and more popular language to study by foreigners. Another example. French people have language school in most of the big foreign counties. They are called Alliance Fran?aise – “the school of French language and civilization”. Well done, French people!
What does the Russian language lacks? Firstly, strong and innovative Russian economy. Secondly, progressing science. People all around the world should like products and ideas, that are born in Russia. They should be eager to study and work here. Thirdly, proud of Russian themselves of their country. Finally, an aggre English is the language of Dollar, Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Of course, it is also Shakespeare’s, Fitzgerald’s and Hemingway’s language. Though, if it only remains the language of well-known and loved literature, it will not be spoken by half of the planet.
Russian is a different example. It is the language of Gogol, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, and the language of the former empire. But not more! It is triste to say this, but Russian is not as modern as we would like it to be. It is the language of the great past and also the language with uncertain future...
Language is the mirror of the nation, the reflection of its strength, power and ability to expand its cultural values over the planet. Russian is not doing very well to this end. The weight of the Russian language in the international community cannot be compared with that of English, French, Spanish or Chinese. Say, in the French business school, where I am currently working on my master’s degree, almost every second student studies Spanish. Spanish-speaking people on campus do not have time to rest! Everybody wants to drink with them and exchange “hola”, “que tal” and “hasta ma?ana” (‘hi’, ‘how are you?’ and ‘see you tomorrow’). I am not that much in demand because only one person is interested to practice Russian... She is one of the eleven students on 4000 student strong campus, who are learning the language of Pushkin and Putin.
Why the situation is like that? Because to buy Russian oil, one do not need to learn the language. One also does not need the language to sell shampoos and diapers on the Russian market. The multinational can just hire Russian managers, that will adapt any product for the local market. There is another – delicate – point: ourselves we do not make a lot to conserve and promote our language.
RussiaToday TV-channel, created with an ambition to improve Russian image and promote Russian culture, broadcasts in several different languages, but not in Russian. At the same time the attitude to the language inside the country matters a lot!
Just one example to show. One of the lectures at my business school. Professor asks four Chinese students to come at the desk and help him to make an experiment. The task is to translate from English into Chinese and vice versa the names of multinationals: Apple, Nike, BMW etc. It turns out that in China all this names are translated in the native language. In the national newspaper you will not come across the “Nike” name written in latin alphabet. There will be a hieroglyph or several hieroglyphs instead, that will sound the same way or give the idea of what is the company’s business. Respect-worthy “language patriotism”, that makes Chinese more and more popular language to study by foreigners. Another example. French people have language school in most of the big foreign counties. They are called Alliance Fran?aise – “the school of French language and civilization”. Well done, French people!
What does the Russian language lacks? Firstly, strong and innovative Russian economy. Secondly, progressing science. People all around the world should like products and ideas, that are born in Russia. They should be eager to study and work here. Thirdly, proud of Russian themselves of their country. Finally, an aggressive cultural expansion. Russian is the language of Pushkin. Cool, but not enough. Russian is the language of Putin. This is not very good, probably, but putins come and leave. At the same time Russian should stay and grow into fashion. Because, honestly speaking, now it feels hurt about the language. What to do, even if one cannot change the situation crucially?
Again and again promote the language in and outside the country. Speak and write about Russia and in Russian as much as possible. For professionals it can also be interesting that there is an Association of the Russian Press, that unites Russian-speaking mass media abroad. Support and backbone on the Russian language in different countries. Because Russian language is even more than Russia.
ssive cultural expansion. Russian is the language of Pushkin. Cool, but not enough. Russian is the language of Putin. This is not very good, probably, but putins come and leave. At the same time Russian should stay and grow into fashion. Because, honestly speaking, now it feels hurt about the language. What to do, even if one cannot change the situation crucially?
Again and again promote the language in and outside the country. Speak and write about Russia and in Russian as much as possible. For professionals it can also be interesting that there is an Association of the Russian Press, that unites Russian-speaking mass media abroad. Support and backbone on the Russian language in different countries. Because Russian language is even more than Russia.
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