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International Journal of the Sociology of Language

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Beliefs about language status and corpus in focus group discussions on the Ukrainian language policy

1National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Citation Information: International Journal of the Sociology of Language. Volume 2011, Issue 212, Pages 69–89, ISSN (Online) 1613-3668, ISSN (Print) 0165-2516, DOI: 10.1515/ijsl.2011.047, November 2011

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This paper examines the relationship between popular beliefs about language status and corpus, as manifested in focus group discussions on language policy in Ukraine. The main finding pertains to the unequal attention to and evaluation of the quality of the two languages predominantly used in Ukrainian society. While the increased presence of Ukrainian in some language practices where Russian dominated in the Soviet and early post-Soviet years is often scrutinized and criticized, largely because of its supposedly low quality, the continued use of Russian usually remains unnoticed. This remarkable asymmetry is characteristic even of many Ukrainian-speakers who support the prevalence of their language but have internalized some implicit beliefs regarding its inferiority vis-à-vis Russian. This relationship appears to be an important mechanism of reproducing the dominant position of Russian as attempts at elevating the status of Ukrainian are hindered by the widespread perception of its corpus inadequacy for those roles it has not played hitherto.

Keywords:: language beliefs; language policy; status; corpus; translation; Ukraine

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