Table of contents:
- Ottomans: religious above national
- UK: you're all just wrong English
- Austria-Hungary: everyone speaks except gypsies
- Russian empire: you can, you can not
Video: Tolerance or prohibitions: How language policy was pursued in the 4 great empires of the 19th century
2023 Author: Richard Flannagan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 05:58
Empires have always been suspicious of the languages of the peoples that were part of them - starting with the most ancient, like the Roman. The four most powerful empires of the nineteenth century were no exception: Russia, Austria-Hungary, Great Britain and the Ottoman Empire. The language policy of these countries has seriously influenced their history.
Ottomans: religious above national
Until the reform of Ataturk, the Turks basically used Arabic script for writing, which, during the heyday of writing, consisted of so many characters that it could be compared in complexity of study with the hieroglyphic script of another empire - China. Arabic letters were not very well suited for the Turkic languages, but their use was dictated not only by love of traditions: it was a political gesture that emphasized that the religious for a Muslim is above the national, and gave the illusion of unity of the Muslim world. Why exactly Arabic script? Because the Qur'an was written in this letter.
The Ottoman Empire included many peoples: in addition to the Turks, Greeks, Armenians, Kurds, all sorts of Slavs, Gypsies, Jews, as well as the Diaspora of Circassians, Abkhazians and some other peoples, whose lands were not included in the empire, lived in it. For most of their history, all of them actively used the writing that they found more convenient: Greek, Hebrew, Armenian, Cyrillic or Latin. Learning in your native language was not a problem; but it became a real problem if you did not learn the Turkish letter in Arabic letters at the same time, since all the official documentation was kept in this way anyway.
Moreover, as already mentioned, before the reform, it was very difficult to study the state script, so decent literacy was the lot of a not so wide circle of people. Oddly enough, many of the "literate" were women - this does not fit with the image of the eastern attitude towards women's education, which is already being formed in our time by the Taliban or the ISIS organization banned in Russia (and almost all over the world).
Restrictions in writing in the native language began already with the fall of the empire. Atatürk, introducing a new, Latin alphabet, legally prohibited the use of those letters that the Turks did well without, but which were actively used in Kurdish writing, such as X or W. Yes, you could be prosecuted for their use! The ban was lifted recently.
UK: you're all just wrong English
At the time of its highest prosperity, the British Empire, as it seemed from Europe, captured half of the world: the British Isles, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Malta, Seychelles, Sudan, the future South Africa … learning and using English - education in the native language was prohibited or repressed; from teachers to officials - everyone considered it their duty to ridicule and initiate ridicule of others over any manifestation of non-Englishness in speech, starting simply from the characteristic national accent.
Not only non-Europeans suffered from such a policy, on the contrary, the indigenous inhabitants of distant colonies were sometimes allowed more when it came to their native language; for example, during the colonial period of India, Hindustani was the official language along with English. The first victim of the language policy was the European neighbors of the British - the Celtic peoples: Scots, Welsh, Irish. By the way, when reading the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, it is worth remembering that Doyle's hero is most likely a Welshman (detective) and a Scotsman (doctor). One of them - a genius, the other - faithfully served the crown, but in both the crown and the official system does not see much benefit.
Although the Irish language was not outlawed, the British persistently pursued its main guardians (who also preserved Irish traditions, histories and laws) - the Philid harpers. Mass famine and massive labor migrations, compulsory education in English, and a decrease in the institution of branches led to the fact that Irish remained a living language only in remote rural areas. Much of the classic Irish literature is written in English as a result and is appropriated by English culture (such as the writings of Jonathan Swift and Oscar Wilde).
If the attitude towards Irish could be influenced by religious enmity - after all, it was the language of the Catholics in the Protestant empire - then the attitude towards Welsh (Kamraig) is more difficult to understand. Although in our time it is the most widespread Celtic language in the world, as part of the Empire, until very recently, it went through hard times. As early as the nineteenth century, enthusiasts, fearing its disappearance, began to collect and publish dictionaries.
The two Scottish languages hit hardest: Gaelic and Scottish. The first was the closest relative of the Irish, the second - the English. The Scots were generally viewed as somewhat incorrect English, who, moreover, still did not become correct out of some whim of their own. For example, they cling to their strange names and language. The Education Act of 1872 explicitly prohibited teaching in Gaelic - as a number of Scottish schools educated their students in their own language, and this was perceived as a revolt against the correction of Scottish children. As for scots, for many years they generally refused to consider it a language, presenting it as disfigured, rough, clumsy English, with which it really has a lot in common.
In fact, both Scots and English come from Old English, but from different dialects and differ not only in the pronunciation of the same words - but also in vocabulary and grammar. Scotts was particularly unlucky, of all the "white" languages of Great Britain, he was recognized as a language, not a mockery of English, later than anyone else.
Austria-Hungary: everyone speaks except gypsies
In the lands of the emperors of Austria and Hungary (which, despite a common ruler, did not consider themselves a single state for a long time), the main languages were, in fact, Austrian German and Hungarian. All the rest were fundamentally viewed as barbaric dialects, and their carriers were savages. These were, first of all, the Slavic peoples of the empire, but also the Gypsies and Jews, of whom there were so many in Austria-Hungary that they hardly fit into modern Russian ideas about minorities.
The turning point began with the Empress Maria Teresia, who, either under the influence of certain ideas of enlightenment, or in order to win the love of her subjects, allowed her subjects to receive an education in any native language - except Gypsy. Maria Teresia had a separate approach to the gypsies. She drew attention to the discrimination of this people on their lands, especially in Hungary, and decided that the problem was solved simply: they must quickly stop being gypsies. For this, a number of measures were taken, including a ban on the use of the Romani language.
Despite the possibility of education in any language, languages such as Czech, Slovak, Ruthenian were viewed as fundamentally unsuitable for literature, culture and science, and patriots like the Czech writer Bozena Nemcova had to try hard to change this attitude, first of all, among the Slavs of the empire themselves.
Russian empire: you can, you can not
As you know, before the tightening of the screws at the very end of the nineteenth century, the Grand Duchy of Finland within the Russian Empire enjoyed almost complete cultural autonomy: education and papers were in Finnish here. The point was, of course, that it was a large area with a well-developed infrastructure. However, the same could be said about Poland: and in Poland, since the middle of the nineteenth century, the screws were tightly tightened in relation to the native language, to the point that it was forbidden to speak on nm for children in school corridors. It is difficult to imagine that anyone seriously hoped to increase the loyalty of the Poles, and not increase their unfriendliness, but this seems to be the case.
For a long time, the empire did not consider Ukrainian and Belarusian as separate languages - if only because, unlike Polish, these languages always used the Cyrillic alphabet, and this is the "Russian alphabet". However, already in the first half of the century, the Russian Slavic scholar Sreznevsky, who had a chance to live in Kharkov for a long time, began to scientifically prove the independence of the Ukrainian language - before that it was treated roughly like the British to cattle. He also singled out Belarusian and Ruthenian into separate languages, opposing them to Great Russian.
Despite the fact that his opinion was scientifically substantiated and shared by many other Slavists, the state stood on the fact that "there is and cannot be any Little Russian language" the Ukrainian language (the one that does not exist and, therefore, it is theoretically impossible to prohibit it).
The Finno-Ugric, Baltic and Turkic languages of Russia were not in the best position, but less passions boiled around them - they were not even considered seriously. The end of the attempts to give primary education to children in their native languages was put by the decree of 1911, according to which education in no case could be in any language other than Russian. This seriously impeded the development of literacy by national minorities and continued the line of destruction of the literary tradition in relation to the developed peoples of the empire.
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