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Hybrid practices meet nation-state language policies: Transcarpathia in the twentieth century and today

István Csernicskó and Petteri Laihonen
From the journal Multilingua


From the early twentieth century to the present day, Transcarpathia has belonged to several states: the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy, Czechoslovakia, the Hungarian Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and finally to Ukraine. The status of what counts as a minority and a majority language has changed each time the state affiliation has been changed. Based on the long term research by Csernicskó, and on the one-month fieldwork carried out by Laihonen in 2012, our goal is to provide an autonomous critical account and discourse analysis of the linguistic situation in Transcarpathia. We draw examples especially from the linguistic landscape, which documents the hybrid practices difficult to catch with other means. Different nation states have aimed to evaluate certain languages over others. However, Transcarpathia has been too far away from different national centers and it has therefore remained a periphery. In the everyday life of Transcarpathians, ironies around language repertoires, standardization and heteroglossia come into the fore, especially in the current context. Such unexpected linguistic practices or “pre-nationalist” and “non-purist” ideologies offer a change to see how certain categories, such as language, have remained in their hybrid forms and are still clearly “in the making”.

Funding statement: Funding: The research was supported by the Academy of Finland grant 137718 for Laihonen.


Both authors contributed equally. We thank István Lanstyák for his comments and Bridget Goodman for polishing our content and language. We express our gratitude to the reviewers and editors of Multilingua. Any errors remain our own responsibility.


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Published Online: 2015-7-8
Published in Print: 2016-1-1

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