1. beauregard

    Recent article about understanding Russian language:

    Russia’s Stalinist Diplospeak

    “A Russian linguist closely examines how the Russian
    Foreign Ministry’s communication has resurrected the
    creepy old Soviet style.

    “Russian politics are all about the style of expression, and
    the language used to convey a political message in Russia
    is more than just a mere communication tool. It’s a cult
    and has been one since 1917.

    “Within the first year after the Bolshevik Revolution,
    Lenin changed the Russian alphabet, the grammar,
    the syntaxes and even the time.

    “The most significant alteration occurred in the style of
    Soviet discourse. Stalin later converted what wasn’t
    even his native tongue (he grew up speaking Georgian)
    into a veritable arsenal for warfare, redefining way state
    officials spoke, wrote and, regrettably, thought. It was all
    done to mask his Big Lie in layer upon layer of obfuscation
    and hidden meaning.

  2. beauregard

    Ukraine’s easy, misunderstood Babel
    By Timothy Snyder

    The grotesquerie remains politically relevant as
    Europeans discuss the future of Ukraine. Russia’s
    leaders maintain that they have the right to dictate
    a constitutional structure to Ukraine that would
    allow Russia permanent control over the parts of
    the southeast that it now occupies while giving
    these districts the power to block any major initiative
    in Ukrainian foreign and domestic policy.

    The rationale that is given for this kind of radical
    federalization is that the Ukrainian government
    prevents people from expressing themselves in the
    Russian language. Europeans who know neither
    language and remain far removed from the conflict
    are sometimes inclined to accept this argument.
    They should not.

    If Europeans allow Russia to take control of the
    Ukrainian state, they will be setting a precedent
    for the invasion of one European country by a
    nother as a legitimate way to achieve political
    goals, and undermine basic structure of European
    political life as a whole.

    Ukrainian bilingualism is not only a state of affairs,
    it is also a sort of automatic courtesy. When prominent
    people on television, or citizens in daily life, make
    efforts to speak the language that is easier for the
    other person, this is seen as matter of basic good
    manners. This everyday gentility perhaps tells us
    something about the character of the bilingual
    Ukrainian political nation that escapes our own
    familiar categories, which we sometimes noisily
    impose without really listening.


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