Language Policy in Ukraine Business

Discussion Tribune of the newspaper “Ukraine Business”, № 6, 2008 year

“Linguistic question” for Ukraine – a kind of a disease started: to treat a long and dull, but also to forget about it is not obtained

The State body of language policy, the necessity of which in different circles has been said for many years, may soon appear. Viktor Yushchenko turned to the government on January 15. This initiative of the President is not yet surprising, no discussion in the media or even in interested circles. There is no official answer from the government itself. And the prospect of appearance of such organ for the first time in many years looks very real.

There is no doubt that if it still happens, the next wave of “speech perturbation” will still rise. At the same time, there is a fear that this will happen post-facture: The state structure is already functioning: “goals defined, tasks are put”, signal to work is present. Therefore, the public will be able to join the discussion only in the already, unfortunately, established by us for every “linguistic question” format – or criticizing (“Everything does not do”) or supporting (“Finally started doing something”).

As long as it has not happened, there is hope for a discussion of a completely different plan. It would have to participate those who are concerned with the fate of the Ukrainian language and those who claim to violate Russian rights; Representatives of the State, public organizations and simply persons whose activities in this area have already brought all visible positive results.

Not a major participant in this discussion would be representatives of the expert environment – primarily those who are engaged in research of language policy, not “live in TV” and commented on any question, but with them – lawyers, economists, specialists Public administration and mass communications.

The subject of this discussion would be to become a State language policy, its goals, objectives and principles, its priority (compared to other issues) for the State and society and, therefore, the amount of resources that the state and society are willing to allocate to solve language problems . In fact, in the world, language problems have long become the subject of fundamental (really scientific, not emotional-publicistic!) researches, and linguistic policy is the same as usual constituent of activity of the state, as energy, foreign or agrarian policy. Like any other field of State policy, the language sphere’s regulation is accompanied by the search for key problems that exist in it, and the attempt to find a more efficient way to solve them.

The creation of a body that would be concerned with language issues gives a chance for the emergence and in Ukraine a well-designed and effective State policy. And this efficiency will be the greater, the more responses to its further activity we get before it begins to act. So try to ask yourself questions and think about possible answers. The creation of each organ begins, of course, its name. At first glance the name – it is not paramount weight, but only at first. After all, the name of the state structure should be reflected by its competence – in particular, what it has and what should not be engaged in.

Language policy often takes care of the body called Commission, Department, or Ministry of language policy. However, the structure is named so that it assumes responsibility for the whole sphere of language policy and the obligation to carry out its activity from public interest in the language sphere. Therefore, focusing on, for example, supporting one language in a multilingual country, the Department (or the Committee) of language policy immediately risks to the criticism or inaction in other areas, or in bias.

Very often the name of the organization reflects the main priority of language policy – for example, preservation of multi-language and equality of languages, or support of languages weaker than others-European Bureau of less common languages. However, the practice of creating a body to support a certain language is also very common. So, Welsey operates the Welsh Language Council, and in Quebec-Office of the French language.
In our case, the choice will be made between, conditionally speaking, the language policy department and the Committee on support of the Ukrainian language. In the first case, the newly created authority will require both the support of the Ukrainian language and all other languages, in particular, the dying (Karaites, Idish), and to observe the observance of the linguistic rights of all citizens. The second option will allow the resources to concentrate on the most pressing direction, but would cause a drain of the reprosides – primarily from the so-called defenders of the Russian language.

The second question is the legal status of such organ. It may be spelled out in the Constitution or by a special law, and may be created by a government decision or a separate ministry. Thus, the language normalization Consortium of Catalonia was established by the Government’s decision of the Spanish province.

It is obvious that in the literature in English of consolidation at the legislative level it would mean clearer competence and greater independence and vitality of the structure, because for its elimination or fundamental transformation in case of change of power there will be insufficient disposition Minister or ruling of the cabinet. However, this path is longer, if not to say unreal-we will recall at least a dozen of projects of a new law on languages, none of which has become the law. Probably, the real-time creation of the Cabinet of Ministers or individual minister is likely to function as a subdivision of the relevant ministry. In this case, the development and implementation of linguistic policy as a program with strategic goals and system activity will be accompanied by significant risks.

The procedure for forming a new government agency is the third important question. Obviously, they will appoint, but not to be elected. However, the mechanism of the assignment may be different – the decision of one person (a minister), one branch of the government (the Cabinet of Ministers), or various branches – by the example of the National Council on television and broadcasting or Constitutional Court.

The order of destination will not only be the stability, consistency and internal uniformity of the body, but also the presence or presence of alternative and independent perspectives in its composition.

The internal structure, election of leadership and decision-making mechanism are the following issues. After all, the body can operate on the principle of the Council and make decisions collectively – in particular, to elect a leader, or to be a committee whose decision will be decided by his supervisor.

In the first case, the decision will be maximally weighed and thoughtful, but unavoidable internal debates and endless discussions. In the second – the work is much more harmonious, more productive and operational, but there is a risk of unconceived steps and reproiness in subjectivity.

So far we have talked about the working issues of the inner work of the body. Now we go directly to its possible influence on the linguistic situation. Not the most important question-the mandate, which will act a new (hypothetical yet) “linguistic body”. Will he be purely advisory and napracovuvatime recommendation for executive power or maybe the legislature too? Will it be a fully fledged Executive body with the appropriate authority, and if so, in what areas and what will the powers of these authorities be? And, maybe, he will also be endowed with control functions – if yes, what exactly?

may be according to the purity of the language (as proposed in one of the projects of the concept of State language policy) or the percentage of language in different fields? will only monitor changes in the language situation without interfering with it?

The experience of other countries also does not give a universal recipe. So, in Quebec with the control went, perhaps the most up – the language structure of this Canadian province may be fined the owner of the English-language site, which has no francophone version. In the already mentioned Catalonia focuses on the implementation of concrete projects, whose purpose is to increase the use of Catalan in society. And some other states generally avoid direct interference in the language sphere, instead of giving grants to public organizations who are fulfilling their state priorities together with it or even “instead” of it.

Come to the most important-priorities. The issue is very difficult, even if the competence and mandate of the new “linguistic body” is determined. Let’s say the main goal is “supporting the Ukrainian language”. But what should be focused on: to achieve the growth of Ukrainian language in general, or to strive to make a more and more promising groups, children and youth in the Ukrainian languages?

What is more important – that Ukraine has been as much more widespread across the country or to concentrate resources on the most problematic areas? And, maybe, on the contrary, it is necessary to preserve the Ukrainian language environment that already exist – for example, in the cities of western Ukraine?

And when measuring “Ukrainian language” that generally take for the main indicator and what to pursue: to the Ukrainian owned (written? read? talking?), or to be used?

All issues considered above are just the previous stage. After it should begin the real activity. That is not a simple “operation” with paper, meetings and development of budget funds, and specific measures aimed to achieve the goals. These measures, as mentioned above, can be diverse, and must be differentiated both by areas and by age and social groups, as well as various areas.

It is possible to start with the fact that the state is easier to make (or create conditions – to who like) to study the state language of civil servants. And yet – to improve the conditions of Ukrainian teaching throughout the country, and especially in the east and in Crimea, to buy for local libraries at least a bit of modern and interesting Ukrainian language books. This is not the arguments for criticism, even in the called-after ukrainisiest Ukrainian.

However, the means and concrete measures will, of course, depend on the allocated state of resources. However, in the state, there are other resources, except for money. After all, the infamous administrative resource can manifest itself not only in force and pressure, but also in promoting and supporting – for example, opening of the modern.

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