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Auteur: Olga IVANOVA

Language identity and identification in a Post-Soviet bilingual community

Abstract/Résumé: Language studies make it likely to distinguish between language identity and language identification as closely related but independent phenomena. Though both identity and identification refer to self-perception, they are different forms of language projection. If identity is the speaker’s state and conscious affiliation with a particular speech community, identification explains his individual language condition. Identity regards attitudes to language, while identification displays the speaker’s presentation of self as a social subject through language performance. In multilingual societies, language identity and identification do not necessarily coincide and may resolve divergent language affiliation and performance in the same speaker. Such divergences might be reinforced by socio-political changes, when language policy seconds only one language from the existing repertoire. In cases of the sort, principles of national identity determine a discrepancy: while they stimulate particular identification preferences, they do not influence the speaker’s identity, and vice versa. Post-Soviet states represent a particularly interesting case as far as divergence between language identity and identification is concerned. Postcolonial changes have induced an evident revalorization of languages in post-Soviet bilingual hybrid communities, where national ideology has reinforced the role of the titular languages to the detriment of Russian. Identity and identification question has, thus, evolved in multiple directions under impact of ethnic and cultural diversity of a post-Soviet community. Most of the speakers come from interethnic families but live in monolingually-oriented countries despite their interculturality and multilingualism. Post-Soviet societies embrace more than one overlapping speech communities defined by different language and cultural affinity. In a post-Soviet bilingual community, symbolic and social roles of each major language give place to observable social variation with consequent multiple loyalties on individual level. In this paper we propose to analyze this divergence between language identity and identification in a bilingual post-Soviet community, where new identities and old identifications define a prototypical language personality. How the speakers construct their nation-related language consciousness and how this construction digresses from their socially dependent language behaviour, are the key questions we propose to answer. We are particularly interested in analyzing language loyalty, socialization through language, social norms, and affiliation, which vary socially and determine an observable differentiation between bilingualism as a collective phenomenon and bilinguality as an individual feature.