Language in Higher Education in Latvia: Historical and ...
Language in Higher Education in Latvia: Historical and Political Aspects Dr. habil philol. Prof. Dace Markus Tartu, 28 November 2019 Importance of Terbata (Yuryev, Tartu) in Strengthening the Latvian Language Although books had been published since the 16th century, the fact that Latvians could study at the university seemed an unimaginable fantasy. The first half of the 19th century was the period of German oppression, and the Latvian language had no rights. However, in the 19th century Neo-Latvians contributed immensely to developing the Latvian language and culture. It was Tartu University (Kaiserliche
Universitt zu Dorpat (also Imperatorskij Derptskij Universitet) where Latvians obtained higher education and cultivated their language, and it was the only place where the Latvian language had been taught as a university subject since 1803. Changes As political power changed, so did the educational policy. The main threat was different at the end of the 19th century, it was a Russification policy. In 1887, the Latvian language was abolished; all institutions demanded the usage of the Russian language. Very slowly the Latvian language began to consolidate in higher education. Transforming Riga Polytechnic School into Riga Polytechnic Institute in the study year 1896/97 contributed to consolidation.
Congress at Tartu University From the 7th until the 13th of June in 1917, a very important resolution on the strengthening and developing of the Latvian language was adopted in the Latvian teachers delegates section of the congress at Tartu University. It stipulated that 1) a combined type of university would have to be established, and it would have departments (faculties) of technical sciences and the humanities; 2) the language of instruction would be Latvian, 3) the university would be in Riga, 4) university to be established would pool together all the scientific staff.
The National Stronghold Foundation of the Latvian Language It is certainly the foundation of the State of Latvia that ensured the national stronghold of the Latvian language. The founding of the University of Latvia in 1919 was the second significant fact, we already celebrated its centenary jubilee this year. It was not so simple even later There were opponents against the studies in the Latvian language at the new university.
There were also compromises; different deadlines were fixed, for example, assistant professors had to learn the language within three years, while professors - within five years. There were excuses of not applying a requirement for language knowledge to persons older than 55 However, in 1939 only three members of the teaching staff, among whom one was an emeritus, did not read lectures in Latvian. Moments from the History of the State Language On the 18th of February in 1932, Regulations on the State Language were adopted, and they stipulated that Latvian is the official state language in the Republic of Latvia, and as such it is
obligatory in state and municipal institutions and companies; also in the contacts with citizens and legal entities, in the army and the navy. The first article in the Law of the State Language adopted on the 5th of January in 1935 recognises Latvian as the state language, but the second article stipulated, The usage of the state language is obligatory in the army, navy, in all state and municipal institutions, also in private establishments of a legal character. Moments from the History of the State Language A Latvian linguist Aina Blinkena emphasised that until 1940, when Soviet occupation ceased the law and Latvian lost its status of the official state language, the State of Latvia had supported the care for and research on the Latvian language. At the Department of the
Baltic Languages under the guidance of Professor Jnis Endzelns outstanding Balts philologists teachers of and researchers on Latvian were educated, the Depository of the Latvian Language worked, many norms of literary language were introduced, and many of the norms are in effect also nowadays. Such a foundation did not allow to Russify the Latvian language during the fifty years of occupation. It was not simple In 1940, the inhabitants of Latvia began to be assimilated in the Russian USSR; the Latvian language lost its status as a state language. As a result of deportations and colonisation, the number of Latvians in Latvia decreased from 76% to 52% from 1935 till 1989. In all official areas, the
Russian language was introduced, the Latvian language and culture during the fifty years of occupation were the main values that supported the survival of the nation. The German language took a high position as a competing language in Latvia from the 17th until the 19th century, whereas in the 60s90s of the 20th century Russian dominated. After studies My generation studied in the second half of the 20th century. Latvian philology was studied, certainly, in Latvian. In the Soviet Union, the cover of the diploma was decorated in the Russian script, the inside pages of the diploma were in the Latvian and Russian languages. In 1974, I graduated from Pteris Stuka
Latvian State University Presented with the Order of the Red Banner of Labour, and I began to work as a laboratory assistant at the Department of Extramural Correspondence Studies of the Faculty of Philology where I was told to rewrite my reports written in Latvian, mainly for Latvian students, into Russian. Consequent constitutional protection of the Latvian language was absent in higher education and other fields. The Importance of Year 1988 Ina Druviete writes, The historical decision on the 6th October 1988 On the Status of the Latvian Language (adopted by the Supreme Soviet of the Latvian SSR before the restoration of the independence of the Republic of Latvia) was the onset of the process changing the hierarchy
of languages and eliminating Russification. (Druviete, 2018: 48). Companies started to organise Latvian language courses. The status of the State language was being strengthened step by step thus leading us closer to the idea of the independent state. Difficult to imagine It is difficult to imagine that, for instance, special contracts with foreign suppliers were concluded to purchase typewriters with Latvian letter keys. (Druviete, 2018: 51). I have vivid memories from the Faculty of Pedagogy (at the University of Latvia) founded in 1982 and led by its second Dean Oskars Zds; at that time the only typewriter at the Faculty did not have a letter Z,
only . To avoid the unnecessary political suspicion of the top administration at the University of Latvia, the clerk used a white corrector to hide the haek. On the 5th of May 1989, The Law On Languages of the Latvian SSR was passed, nevertheless, it contained a phrase in the Latvian SSR, Russian is the second most widely used language after the Latvian language. So, measures were taken to intensify teaching of the Latvian language and reorganise record keeping and documentation. 1989 Although the idea about independence was spreading, everything began gradually. In 1989, heads of the university departments received blank forms in Russian to be filled in with rough
versions of the study plan in Latvian (see the picture); major courses to be included for teaching, first of all, were History of the USSR Communist Party, Marxist-Leninist philosophy, Scientific communism followed by Introduction to Scientific Atheism and History of Religion. We can only guess how much of a habit and Soviet ideology has remained. Year 1991 the year of our own state, independent Latvia! The restoration of the independence of the Republic of Latvia and a status of the state language to Latvian are in close reciprocity. On the 31st of March 1992, The Law on Amendments and Supplements to the Law on Languages of the Latvian SSR excluded a sentence pertaining to the special rights of the Russian
language. It stipulated that studies shall be in Latvian starting with the second year at publicly funded higher educational institutions. In 1991, graduates of the journalism study program of the University received diplomas with a USSR State emblem, but the interior of the diploma was sealed with a signet of independent Latvia. There were Russian campaigns in press regarding the seeming discrimination of the Russian speaking population, inhabitants were misinformed. The influence of competing elements However, the Latvian State Language Centre, the State Language Inspectorate, the State Language Attestation
Commission were founded; sociolinguistic studies on language skills and speakers attitude to the state language began; terminology in Latvian grew richer. All these factors contributed to giving up the so-called minority complex in Latvian society that would otherwise have to adjust to using the Russian language, but the influence of competing elements remained. Regained independence is not an automatic consolidation of the state language - it has to be taken care of The State Language Law adopted in 1995 stipulates only the protection and usage of the state language; a term foreign languages refers to other languages. Latvia becomes a member state of the Council of Europe. In 2004, the Latvian
language becomes one of the official languages in the European Union. We are aware that the biggest competing languages in Latvia are Russian and English, which belong to the group of big languages. For that reason, we should ensure both the development of the state language and its rights to function at all levels. New concepts in higher education: LAT1, LAT2, LATS It is possible to speak about the acquisition of Latvian as a native language or LAT1 in education since the end of the 17th century when the first Latvian ABC book was published.(Anspoka,-e). Latvian was taught at schools for different nationalities already in
the 20s of the 20th century, but purposeful formation of basic guidelines for Latvian as a second language or LAT2 began in the beginning of the 90s of the 20th century (Laizne, 2019). In the past years, another variety of acquisition was being established in Latvian linguodidactics, namely, Latvian as a foreign language or LATS. It began in the 60s of the 20th century. Changes in the educational system show that lately all these fields begin to merge; teaching principles and content are, certainly, different. Referendum in 2012 In 2012, an expert in Constitutional Law and our elected President Egils Levits wrote, By establishing our own state, the Latvian nation emerged from a minority nation in Russia into a nation statehood in their own country - Latvia. (Levits, 2012: 6).
Many Russian speaking people could rid themselves of the Soviet label and supported an idea about an independent state, but Russian propaganda worked effectively - as a result, part of the Russian speaking population could not easily accept that the forced domination of the Russian language was over. There were victims of the Soviet psychology, and there were also its adherers - unfortunately, also under the leadership of Mayor Nils Uakovs of Riga City Council. The referendum on allowing Russian the status of the second state language along with the potential wish to amend the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia followed. Voting took place on the 18th of February, 2012. The then opera singer and the present Minister of Culture of Latvia Nauris Puntulis wrote bitterly: There are things people do not joke about. We never have fun about death. But this is the case when Nils Uakovs allows to joke about the death of the State of Latvia.(Puntulis, 2012: 6). Various speculative viewpoints were expressed.
About the referendum A wise motivation to participate in the referendum was given by the ex-President Vaira Ve-Freiberga: If the result of the voting against Russian as the second state language is going to be inconsiderable and the referendum will have no results in favour of Russian, and I am sure it will be so, Russia will, anyway, use it for advancing its goal. That is why the referendum is being organised. [..] Those who care about Latvian must participate and vote against Russian as a second state language. (Ve-Freiberga, 2012: 6). A writer and diplomat Anna gure warned: God and destiny have been favourable to us, and the people had the power of the spirit to achieve independence twice in the century. It would be extremely irresponsible and miserable to miss the opportunity - to
live in our own state. (gure, 2012: 3) Results Latvian is certainly a cornerstone of Latvia; it raised emotional and existential issues, and therefore an interest about the referendum and activity was great. Overall, one million 98 thousand 593 voters participated in the referendum. And the result showed that Latvian as the only state language is the only one together with most important values of the state along with the national anthem, flag and coat of arms. Current development amidst a diversity of opinions
In 2018, we marked the centenary of Latvia, but we are also worried about a new issue many inhabitants leave Latvia, many leave Latvia for new jobs, some go to study abroad. The higher education area is open to foreign students and visiting professors and researchers speaking other EU languages; their number is increasing. It is nice to see an increase in the mutual mobility thus promoting an exchange of experience. Nevertheless, there are also negative trends for Latvian in higher education and science where a superiority of English as demonstrated by some members of society means a complete transition to English. Also, private higher educational institutions fight for the Russian language used among their students from Latvia.
Overall transition to education in Latvian Since the 1st of September 2019, positive changes have been implemented in general education where a planned and systematic transition to obtaining general education in Latvian as a language of instruction has taken place in all schools, the process was completed in full in secondary schools. We can only hope that after a full cycle of secondary education school-leavers will be able to continue their education in the state language. Those who opposed were about 900 inhabitants who gathered in Riga Dome Square under the guidance of the former EU parliamentarian Tatjana danoka. They protested against the transition to education in Latvian and marched towards the government building.
Main conclusions Higher education is a special sociolinguistic field in the Baltic States where processes of languages interacting with each other and multilingualism take place on a regular basis. The processes have a strong connection with political issues. The role of Tartu University is historically significant in the consolidation of the Latvian language. The independence of the state and the status of Latvian as the only state language are closely interacting; however, the interaction does not guarantee a complete protection and usage of the state language in all its functions. There is no dispute over the value of knowing several languages, and we are aware that the state language in Latvia is Latvian guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia. The most competitive languages in Latvia are Russian and English, which belong to a group of big languages, so the issues regarding the further development and usage of the state language are still topical.
Main sources 1. Anspoka Zenta. Ieskats latvieu valodas k dzimts valodas mcbu grmatu izstrdes vstur, p.6. Available: http://bilingvals.lv/uplods_docs/Zenta_Anspoka_zin_raksts_1303883724.pdf 2. Balti Mris. Mcbu valodas problmas. Latvijas Universitt starpkaru period. Vrds un t ptanas aspekti, 11. Liepja: Liepjas Universitte. 2007., pp. 107-116 3. Baar G. ber die in der lettischen Sprache vorkommenden Laute und deren einfache Bezeichnung durch die Schrift. Magazin der Lettischen Literarischen Gesellschaft (Mitan) 9, 1. LING ORTH 1847, pp. 107-116. 4. Blinkena Aina. K latvieu valoda aizsargta. (Lauku Avze, 2000, 8. janv., Nr. 3, 12. lpp.) In: Aina Blinkena. Caur vrdu
birzi. Darbu izlase II. Rga, 2017, pp. 55-59. 5. Druviete Ina. Valoda k valsts identitte: trsdesmit gadi kop valsts valodas statusa atjaunoanas latvieu valodai. In: Nacionls identittes sociolingvistiskie aspekti. Rakstu krjums / Zintnisk redaktore Ina Druviete. Rga: Latvieu valodas institts, 2018, pp. 45-62. 6. Kaudztes Matss. Atmias no Tautisk laikmeta. I. Csis-Rga. 1924. 7. Laizne Inga. Latvieu valoda k svevaloda: lingvodidaktikas virziena attstba Latvij un rpus ts // Latvian language as a foreign language: the development of the linguodidactic direction in Latvia and abroad. Summary of the Doctoral Thesis. Scientific supervisor Arvils alme. Liepja: Liepjas Universitte, 2019. p 63. 8. Latvieu skolotju delegtu kongresa darbba un lmumi. Trbat no 8.-13. jnijam 1917. g. Trbat: Ed. Bergmaa druktava, 1917. p. 52.
9. Levits Egils. Iespja apzinties valsts pamatus. Politisks partijas Vienotba oficilais izdevums 2012.gada februris, p. 6. 10. Puntulis Nauris. Ir lietas.. Politisks partijas Vienotba oficilais izdevums 2012.gada februris, p. 6. 11. Ve-Freiberga Vaira. Spriedel.. Politisks partijas Vienotba oficilais izdevums 2012.gada februris, p. 6. Politisks partijas Vienotba oficilais izdevums 2012.gada februris, p. 6. 12. gure Anna. Mazs soltis pret savai Latvijai. Politisks partijas Vienotba oficilais izdevums 2012.gada februris, p. 3.
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