Russian language knowledge declining precipitously in the world and even in Russia, Matviyenko says

Valentina Matviyenko, Speaker of Russia's Federation Council (Image: nahnews.org)

Valentina Matviyenko, Speaker of Russia's Federation Council (Image: nahnews.org) 

Analysis & Opinion, Russia

In 1900, one in every seven people on earth spoke Russian; now only one in 50 does, a decline that is mirrored within Russia itself, according to Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko, who says that “in a number of regions, as many as 10 percent of residents do not speak Russian.”

Given the centrality of the Russian language in Vladimir Putin’s conception of his “Russian world,” those statements made on Thursday at a session of the organizational committee for the Third International Livadia Forum are striking.

They are completely at odds with the Kremlin’s oft-made claim that everyone in Russia knows Russian and that therefore supporting other languages may be an expensive luxury, and to the extent Moscow has the resources to do so, they may represent the start of a new push to promote Russian abroad and among non-Russians in the Russian Federation.

But if Russian is doing badly in Russia, that does not mean that non-Russian languages are doing well as three reports this week make clear.

  • First, a survey of the numerically small peoples of the North found that 70 percent or more of them no longer speak their native language, although some have shifted to other non-Russian languages than to Russian.
  • Second, there are serious shortages of non-Russian language instructors in many republics. In North Ossetia, for example, there is no one to fill 27 percent of the existing teaching slots in Ossetian, a shortage that means ever fewer Ossetians will have a chance to learn and retain their native language.
  • And third, Karelian leaders continued their campaign to have Karelian declared the state language of the Republic of Karelia. At present, that is the only non-Russian republic in the Russian Federation in which the titular nationality language does not have official status.

Experts at the Institute of Language, Literature and History of the Karelian Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences sent an appeal to the republic legislative assembly pointing on that in their view, Karelian has “all the necessary qualities to be granted the status of a state language.”


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Edited by: A. N.

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  • veth

    Russia is doomed, for ever.

  • Alex George

    Russians are obsessed with the idea that the use of the Russian language is somehow a barometer to the success of Russia.

    By contrast, Switzerland has four official languages, yet is a far more successful country than Russia.

    And ironically, the more that the Kremlin puts the emphasis on people speaking Russian, the less people actually speak it!

    • Andrew Chmil

      WARNING! Above is a Ruski MOLE!

      • Alex George

        Yes, yes, so is everyone. You keep telling us – and nobody cares.

        • Andrew Chmil

          “Vasyl P.” does STUPID!!!
          He up-voted you again! :)))

          • Alex George

            Of course. He supports Ukraine. Whereas I have pointed out the truth about you:

            *You don’t write positive things about Ukraine;
            *You never criticize Putin trolls, except for just one (AC’s Daddy) and then only when he attacks you;
            *You claim to live in Ukraine but clearly do not;
            *You complain about Ukrainians not speaking Ukrainian, yet clearly do not speak any yourself;
            *You flame many people who are supporters of Ukraine.

          • Andrew Chmil

            MOLE!!! RUSKIE SCUM YOU ARE — you got PROOF OF:

            *You don’t write positive things about Ukraine;
            *You never criticize Putin trolls, except for just one (AC’s Daddy) and then only when he attacks you;
            *You claim to live in Ukraine but clearly do not;
            *You complain about Ukrainians not speaking Ukrainian, yet clearly do not speak any yourself;
            *You flame many people who are supporters of Ukraine.

            POST IT HERE!!! :)

            You OPENED YOUR “MOUTH!!!!”
            START WITH: “*You claim to live in Ukraine but clearly do not;”
            WHERE TF I ever “say” (write) that —- YOU INFERIOR SUB-MONHOL SCUM!!!!

          • Alex George

            Ah,thank you for finally admitting that you do not live in Ukraine, and you are not Ukrainian.

            As for proof, that is easy for anyone to find – all they have to do is read your posts:

            *You don’t write positive things about Ukraine;
            *You never criticize Putin trolls, except for just one (AC’s Daddy) and then only when he attacks you;
            *You claim to live in Ukraine but clearly do not;
            *You complain about Ukrainians not speaking Ukrainian, yet clearly do not speak any yourself;
            *You flame many people who are supporters of Ukraine.

  • Kruton

    Surrender Bolshevik savages or be annihilated!

  • Eolone

    Russian is a difficult language to learn, and thus not very enjoyable to study. The more it declines in Russia, the more difficult it will be to bring back.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      It has been said that the dwarf’s Russian is hardly 100% perfect. If true then he isn’t exactly setting a good example, which he should as president.

    • zorbatheturk

      Good.

  • canuke

    The Russian’s, as always, exaggerate their importance in the world. I did a wiki search. World population in 1900 was 1.9 billion. China had 415 million and India, 281 million. The Russian empire had 119.5 or 136.3 million if including Finland and Poland. Looking at the list, I could see no reason for most of the world to have ever known Russian (Asia, Africa, South America, and Western Europe). It’s a stretch as well to assume every citizen of the Russian empire spoke Russian, but if they did, including every Finn and Pole, that works out to 8% or 1/12.5. In fact I would estimate this to have been far lower. Very few Poles, for instance ever knew Russian, and the same for most of the conquered lands of the Russian Empire.

    • MichaelA

      Yes
      Tolstoy talks about people in Russian empire who didn’t speak russian

      • Andrew Chmil

        Above is a Ruski MOLE!

  • Oknemfrod

    Soviet “proletarian” poet Mayakovsky, inspired by Lenin’s “greatness”, once wrote in 1920’s: “I would learn Russian just because it was spoken by Lenin”.

    Now that we know full well what sort of character Lenin was in reality and what kind of “service” he rendered to humankind, even that ludicrous reason to learn Russian has vanished into thin air.

  • Vasyl P.

    Russia doesn’t have the same influence in the world as it did. The beginning of the USSR in 1922 had a higher GDP ratio in terms of world GDP than Russia does now. If it wasn’t for nukes and an official status in the UN then Russia would just be nothing more than a giant gas station.

    • veth

      And when the gas and oil are finished some day……………………..a big swamp, with 60 million bath gel lotion drinkers enjoying their 2000 rubles pension………….

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        With the world slowly but surely turning away from fossil fuels in favour of renewables, Dwarfstan will eventually have oil and gas but no customers. Even China is moving toward renewables so that puts paid to the dwarf’s Great Hope of Peking taking over from the EU as its best customer.
        And not only is the EU moving toward renewables, it’s also moving away from Dwarfstan as supplier in favour of more reliable countries. That’s what happens when you p1ss off your best customers. The dwarf doesn’t even understand Rule Number One: the customer is always right.

    • Andrew Chmil

      WARNING! ALERT — Above is a Ruski MOLE!

    • Andrew Chmil

      You are a RUSKI mole troll …. & even spoke Ruski AT me!
      Disgusting!

      • Vasyl P.

        Someone needs to brighten up.

        • Andrew Chmil

          You Russo-mongolians do!

          • Vasyl P.

            I don’t, I’m not the one flaming people :)

  • zorbatheturk

    As well as exporting Communism the Soviets tried to export ruSSian, forcing Kazakhs, Vietnamese, East Germans and the like to try to learn it. Nowadays people in developing countries want to learn English. Other choices are Mandarin (in Asia), French, Spanish, Italian or German.

  • Brent

    And yet Russian would appear to be so easy to understand because in current times you only need to learn about a dozen words or phrases to be fluent in “Novo Russian”
    “Kill”
    “Steal”
    “Murder”
    “Lie”
    “Russia is great”
    “Everyone else is at fault”
    “Propaganda”
    “Invade”
    “Ratburger”
    “Palm oil cheese”
    “broke”
    “shot in the back” https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e517c4c1d23d75565b532f217639f5e77f2b0c06aaf922d299661238c8f3c3e1.jpg

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      I’d add “heart attack”, “suicide”, “little green men” to the list. No doubt one could add a few more.

  • Vlad Pufagtinenko

    Why would anyone not be ashamed to speak this child murderer language?