Purism and pluralism

Bilaniuk, Laada. 2017. Purism and pluralism: Language use trends in popular culture in Ukraine since independence.  The Battle for Ukrainian: A Comparative Perspective, edited by Michael Flier and Andrea Graziosi. Pp. 343-363. Harvard University Press.  

Language issues have frequently figured at the center of Ukraine’s social and political developments. Prevailing language ideologies have ranged from intense purism and politicization of language choice to a more pluralistic acceptance of different language varieties. Contradictory ideologies and practices can coexist at any given point in time, and therefore shifts in language ideology have been layered and complex. Nevertheless, changes in dominant trends are discernable during Ukraine’s trajectory as an independent country. In this paper I trace these shifts and their manifestations in popular cultural practices, and examine how language ideologies in Ukraine have been connected to broader political and social issues. A focus on popular culture encompasses institutionally produced and individual forms of expression, in which political, artistic, and economic forces intersect, and it is an arena that allows for broad involvement of people from various social strata. I consider usages and attitudes towards various dimensions of language, including standards, mixing, code-switching, nonstandard dialects, slang, vulgarities, and foreign borrowings. My findings are based on periodic field research in Ukraine since 1991, study of academic publications, print media, broadcast media, and online popular cultural media and social networks. This analysis begins with a summary of the sociolinguistic landscape of Ukraine that I presented in my book Contested Tongues and then considers the changes in practices and ideologies of the last decade.

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