Research Group The Future of Russian

Victor Sonkin to Bergen

The Future of Russian project is happy to welcome Victor Sonkin, who will give this year's Annual Landslide Day lecture

The predecessor of the FoR project, the four-year research project "Landslide of the Norm: Linguistic liberalization and literary development in Russia in the 1920s and 1990s" (2005–2008) celebrates the Annual Landslide Day with a Landslide-related event, such as a book presentation, open lecture or similar. This year's ALD speaker is Victor Sonkin from Moscow State University.

Our Language Is Doomed: The Russians’ perspectives on the imminent death of their language through the centuries


Every culture becomes panicky when its core values seem to be threatened, and there is hardly anything closer to that core than the national language. Even when a language is expanding, and great works of literature are being written in it, voices of doom do not subside.

The situation becomes worse when previous norms are shattered and the language suffers a major overhaul (‘landslide of the norm’). The Russian language has been  through several major transitions during the last 300 years: the first in the 18th century starting with Peter the Great’s reforms, the second in the early 19th century in Pushkin’s times, yet another in the 20th century starting with the Communist revolution. We are currently in the middle of a new transition, heralded by the demise of the Communist rule and the arrival of new media.

An interesting feature of today’s change is that it seems to have no proponents. Peter’s innovations, Pushkin’s output and Communist newspeak were enthusiastically embraced by many, even as they were resented by others. However, the current ‘landslide’ seems to be only deplored and lamented.

In the lecture, we’ll try to unravel why language is so crucial in culture’s self-representation and why its changes always seem to be for the worse.

Time and place: Monday 18 October 2010, 10:15-12:00, Aud F, Sydneshaugen skole

The lecture is open to all. Welcome!