Genesis of the Republic of Belarus Language Policy

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Abstract

The problems of language policy are multifaceted, they allow for variability of approaches to assessing its effectiveness and compliance with the national-ethnic model of social relations. The importance of the formation and development of legal instruments for regulating the linguistic landscape and protecting the language is confirmed by the presence of an impressive number of international normative acts. However, the main legal mechanisms in this area are in the plane of responsibility of national legislation. In this regard, the experience of the Republic of Belarus, which, in contrast to other union republics of the former USSR, has managed to preserve state bilingualism seems to be interesting. The research was carried out on the normative legal acts regulating the modern state language policy of Belarus. The methodology of the work included general scientific methods of generalization and systematization, logical and comparative analysis. Until the 1990s, the modern Belarusian language did not have the formal status of the state language (the Constitution of Soviet Belarus only enshrined the norms of its use on a par with Russian in all spheres of official business communication). At the turn of the 1980s and 1990s, the problems of regulating language issues were included in the political agenda. The first legislative acts of sovereign Belarus consolidated the state monolingualism and were focused on a forced transition to Belarusian-language communication. Belarusianization in the country was the most effective in the sphere of general secondary and preschool education, but it could not completely «oust» the Russian language from the socio-political discourse and, of course, everyday communication. The promotion of the national language grew into a political slogan that was not supported by the public: at the 1995 referendum, amendments to the Constitution were adopted to give the Russian language the status of a state language. These changes were reflected in other normative acts. The experience of building the language policy of the Republic of Belarus is unique for the postSoviet space: the country, which is at the forefront of the nationalist positions of monolingualism in the early 90s of the last century, managed, during a period of independence and sovereignty that was short by historical standards, to go through a fairly serious way of harmonizing the language situation, legally normalizing the processes social communicative interaction and retaining the features of national linguistic identity. The modern linguistic landscape of Belarus is characterized by the obvious dominance of the Russian language in almost all spheres of communicative interaction. At the same time, the Belarusian language as the language of the titular nation functionally plays the role of not so much a means of communication as a symbol of national self-identity.

About the authors

Anton Alexeevich Lavitski

Belarusian State Pedagogical University; International University «MITSO»

Author for correspondence.
Email: anton_lavitski@mail.ru
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9102-4440

PhD (Philology), Associate Professor of Belarussian State Pedagogical University, Head of Department of Foreign Language and Cross-Cultural Communication of International University «MITSO».

18, Sowetskaya Str., Minsk, 220050, Republic of Belarus; 8A, M. Shagal Str., Vitebsk, 210015, Republic of Belarus

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Copyright (c) 2022 Lavitski A.A.

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