''What’s happening now in Tatarstan reminds the Ukrainian language case'': view from Donbass

The Tatar language. View from Donetsk

''What’s happening now in Tatarstan reminds the Ukrainian language case'': view from Donbass Photo: ru.golos.ua

Journalist from Donetsk Ramil Zamdykhanov also joined the polemics about voluntary and the compulsory Tatar language learning. In his op-ed column written especially for Realnoe Vremya, he shares his vision on the problem. Remembering the sad Ukrainian language scenario, our columnist compares the situation with Russian reality.

Absurd fraternisation

Earlier everyone needed to learn the Tatar language in Tatarstan, and people did not like it. But, indeed, why should one learn the language that can be used to speak only at lessons and representatives of the national intelligentsia who tire with their sad passionarity and also only in the countryside. Are we going to go to the countryside? No. Then why?

This is the big picture at a distance of 1,000 km from Kazan, in Donetsk. It is impossible to see separate nuances and details from here, and the names of speakers who talk about the problem are distinguished with difficulty and say nothing.

And let's continue.

Now the Tatar language learning is cancelled in Tatarstan, and people don't like it. Actually, the world is becoming global, the Internet levels the language landscape by a huge ruthless bulldozer. If 50 years of worldwide integration pass at such a pace, only huge language ''peaks'' that at least ¼ of the billion of native speakers can claim as argument will survive. And other languages will die like languages of Native Americans did by turning into a souvenir in reserve. Do we want to be in reserve? No. Then why?

''Now the Tatar language learning is cancelled in Tatarstan, and people don't like it. Actually, the world is becoming global, the Internet levels the language landscape by a huge ruthless bulldozer.'' Photo: gossov.tatarstan.ru

The situation with the limited Tatar language learning or, on the contrary, its deeper all-round compulsory course reminds a classic eastern story about Nasreddin Hodja, a kid and donkey. However the heroes of this short anecdote sit – Hodja on the donkey, the kid on Hodja, it was wrong anyway. External commentators find irrefutable arguments that convincingly prove the absurdity of right this choice. I remember that at the end of the story, Hodja throws the animal on his shoulders and carries it. The situation, which reached the extreme absurdity was not criticised, and laws of logic don't cover such a scene. There is nothing to discuss here. This is why let it be so. We will put up with it. It all is not as funny as it was noted wisely and well, in itself.

Trying to solve some internal contradictions, society often chooses an option that is unacceptable for anyone, and it is not the end. In the situation when everyone suffers, people show a wonderful ability to fraternise.

Ukrainian script

Why is such an attention paid to the Tatar language from Donetsk except that I am Tatar myself but who was born in Donbass, who forgot the language that his father and mother spoke? Maybe because what is happening now in the Republic of Tatarstan reminds the Ukrainian language case.

Until 2014, Ukraine was quiеe far from the obvious understanding of Eastern aesthetics, wisdom and allegorical character. It also faced the so-called ''language problem''. In addition, the opposition rate was not lower than in Tatarstan now.

''In an attempt to use the famous method of learning by others' mistakes, we will ask ourselves a question: ''Did Ukraine manage to solve its task of painless coexistence of two languages in the country?'' No, obviously.'' Photo: lugansk1.info

The correct projection of the Ukrainian attitude to the state bilingualism, to what is happening now in the region of the Russian Federation greatly depends on whom the observer who must be categorically independent supports in some events. But where can such a person come from? Language problem has an incredible peculiarity to touch everyone. And as it sometimes happens in sport, even a slight clash on the playing pitch is often enough to fight with the rival. It is characteristic that in such situations the referees also have to fight for somebody or run away, otherwise, both sides will beat them.

In an attempt to use the famous method of learning by others' mistakes, we will ask ourselves a question: ''Did Ukraine manage to solve its task of painless coexistence of two languages in the country?'' No, obviously. From the very beginning and annually increasing the pressure in this area, Ukraine followed a policy of driving the Russian language out ''to the street'', its marginalisation and transformation from a full-fledged means of communications into some oral dialect of eastern provinces. Declaring the equality of all languages and dialects in the country, Kyiv used a famous allowance in fact – ''Does anybody prohibit from speaking Russian at home?'' The Russian language was insistently driven out from all other locations without alternatives: schools, TV, newspapers, not to mention state structures.

Otherwise you will have to carry the donkey on our own shoulders

It seems that in this place representatives of defenders of the Tatar language's interests can point out that the official Russian policy towards Tukay and Taktash's language starts to remind what was done to the Russian language in Ukraine. They will ask where the famous empathy is.

But on the other hand, the desire of Kyiv to make the regions that treated the Ukrainian language with respect, even if it was only so, speak in Ukrainian became one of the reasons why Russian-speaking districts of Ukraine decided to raise an open protest in 2014. Remembering this circumstance, there is a question: does the administrative border of Tatarstan accurately coincide with the border of the Tatar language's distribution? Won't too many efforts with learning others' language de facto lead to the appearance of an initiative of other cities and districts to ''go home to Russia''? In addition, a wall doesn't need to be broken, it's enough to open the neighbouring door.

''May I offer any universal piece of advice in this situation concerning the ''language problem'' that could help avoid too radical views? I will run a risk to suppose that I may, though it will sound paradoxical: ''Not to listen to any advice, otherwise you will have to carry the donkey on your own shoulders.'' Photo: Maksim Platonov

Probably these are too radical scripts, the author of these lines has been reproached a couple of times that he did not ''feel'' the Russian political situation well enough. And it is the case when there is nothing to oppose to the reproach. But, on the other hand, we have the tragic Ukrainian experience in front of our eyes that unwillingly projected to the very similar language situation.

May I offer any universal piece of advice in this situation concerning the ''language problem'' that could help avoid too radical views? I will run a risk to suppose that I may, though it will sound paradoxical: ''Not to listen to any advice, otherwise you will have to carry the donkey on your own shoulders.''

Though in life it happens rarely.

By Ramil Zamdykhanov