Tolgurov Z. K.
Doctor of Philology

CC-Culture and Art Department


In the first half of 1990s, in Kabardino-Balkaria was adopted a package of regulatory and legislative acts pertaining to the indigenous languages of the republic. «Parade of sovereignties», as media of those years called it, concerned KBR and brought some segments of the population to a state close to euphoria.


Naturally, the law on state languages, subordinate regulatory acts equally, passed through the Supreme Court of KBR meeting with no resistance. Dictate of universal populism of those years called forth working quality of the documents accompanying the law. Central among them was the program for measures on implementation, and we would like to express some thoughts on the latter.

Any steps aimed at adjustment of some sectors of substrate culture - and even more so the culture of small nations - in our time of total ethno suicide should include both conservative and creative measures. It is impossible to preserve a language, which glossary, at least, does not adequately cover the surrounding world. The program of activities on implementation of the law, we are interested in, managed with only directives, some of which today, after a half dozen years (for example, adaptation of keyboards of typewriters and computers to the phonetics of Kabardian and Balkar languages) cause laughter. The main content of the program were changes introduced in the learning process of general education schools. Was dramatically increased the number of classes of native language and literature. This, in turn, necessitated correction of work of the national departments of Kabardino-Balkarian State University, increase in the number of relevant textbooks, increase in circulation, additional funding for printing production... And so on. It is good when in difficult times grows the number of people receiving a salary, but not the reduction of unemployment was main purpose of the law.

Yes, today we constantly hear Kabardian and Balkar speech on the streets of Nalchik - young people knowingly communicate in their native languages. Pleases the fact that these are not only recent villagers. But what this speech is, what language is this? De facto, at present time, in Kabardino-Balkaria live about half a million people, doing with not more than fifty words in everyday life.

The Balkar and Kabardian languages, not having full-fledged spheres of application, have simply degenerated into two scanty areas of functioning - the so-called «literature» language and, of course, informal-everyday. The latter consists of two or three dozen words, which we hear in buses and cafes. The first can boast significant status achievements, but does not refer to real life, being in the condition of Latin in Europe of the Middle Ages. The word does not live in the fictitious space of republican and other laws. It must have wide and multidirectional associative fields, and this needs implementation in as many various areas as possible. Our people have no linguistic and functional division, no terminology, no jargon, a word remains in the same semantic field, where it stayed twenty and one hundred years ago. And it retains exactly that centuries-old fullness, but used today.

That is why the journalistic style is a kind of «happy medium» in any language - it is full with foreign barbarisms. Moreover - academic dictionaries, the issue of which was stipulated by the program, fixed namely this state of informal speech. What kind of lexical richness of the language of young people can one speak about, when the Karachay-Balkar dictionary begins with the words «abstraction» and «aberration»?

Now with full confidence one can speak about the failure and incapacity of the measures to conserve the national languages drawn up 15 years ago. Even this miserable goal in a rapidly evolving information environment has not been achieved. One of the markers of that failure - the loss of personnel in the field of artistic expression, the loss is catastrophic, perhaps even fatal. The mean age of members of the writing organization of our republic stepped far over fifty years, no rising generation is foreseen.

Following the obvious ways of mechanical raising of linguistic influence on pupils, we failed to take into account the imbalance between the real information wealth and diversity of modern times and limited glossary systems of our languages, which remained in use. For a decade and a half, we have been destroying thinking of many thousands of young people deprived of conceptual and categorical apparatus formed in the Russian language environment, without any in its national version because of the absence. The teachers of universities have fully encountered the problem - a large portion of entrants come into educational institutions, being unable to perform simple logic operations at the level of abstract terminology. The trouble is not only in corruption affecting the system of education.

What can be done today? The authors of this article see one cardinal resort - returning to old standards of teaching of Russian literature and language, and simultaneously translation of language forming school subjects into native languages (at least - in rural schools). Such as informatics, biology, anatomy, botany, geography, chemistry, physics, mathematics, geometry, astronomy and others of their ilk. This will naturally entail compiling of relevant terminology glossaries. In some cases, we need only to find hapax legomena, forgotten and not used words, but still remaining in people’s memory - what should have been recorded in the recently published academic journals. We believe that biology, botany and anatomy today are still present in the national language environments.

It seems appropriate to urgently develop a system to encourage any attempts of linguistic engineering - from raising schedule of fees to authors, using their native language without barbarisms, up to creating a special fund to pay when revealing hapax legomena or forming new terminology, on the assumption of its seamlessness. It is necessary to organize field work of linguists, so that in future dictionaries will be made not using samples from newspapers, but in live communication with native speakers. Particular attention should be paid to the optimization of work of national departments of KBSU, because reforms, conducted within the walls of this institution, though positive, are not sufficient: it is desirable that general theoretical subjects should be delivered in native languages.

And, finally, the state should save the sound record library of the Kabardino-Balkarian Institute for Humanitarian Studies. Several years ago magnetic records were moved to an ordinary room, not meeting the standards for storage by either humidity or temperature, or protection from electromagnetic effects. The first thunderstorm in the immediate vicinity of the building of KBIHS will destroy fifteen hundred items, but if this doesn’t happen, audio tapes will become dust from old age. The peoples of our republic have been forming their epos, folklore and language not only for those who today get academic degrees and good salary. Conversion of KBIHS sound record library to digital format at prices of 2004 cost one and a half million rubles - less than some officials lost in billiards for one month, and much less than is spent for monthly maintenance of the team «Spartak-Nalchik». Nevertheless, the tapes are turning into dust up till now.

Apparently, we are satisfied with the future in which peoples of the republic perform folkloric dancing before replete tourists and, with brutally twinkling eyes and teeth, say exotic toasts, and «abstractions» and «aberrations» in national dictionaries will be quite enough for us, as well as the posture of soloists of «Kabardinka» and «Balkaria» at festive concert, devoted to arrival of high guests, not yet tourists (the authors, to their shame, see no difference). By the way, the ancestors of those living today in KBR would just make a laughing-stock of one for appearance with such a posture in public, not asking about national identity. We hope that the leadership of the republic will do everything necessary to extend the opportunities of the languages of indigenous peoples.

From the editorial staff: The authors of the published material have raised a very serious problem. Like some showy advertising banner covers abandoned construction site, so today's grandiloquent slogans on overall national revival cover the truth, which name is degradation. Behind superficial abundance of national speech sounding throughout the South of Russia, the authors see a dangerous process of cultural degeneration.

«The word does not live in the fictitious space of republican and other laws. It must have wide and multidirectional associative fields», - delicately write the authors, bearing in mind the fact that the usage of words in national languages, especially among young people does not exceed «fifty» simplest everyday expressions. And it cannot go outside these limits, since the development of these languages stopped in the century before last. That’s why deliberate introduction of national languages in all possible «cracks» has nothing to do with the cultural and intellectual needs of today.

A person impregnated from childhood with the language of native gorges and auls to the detriment of first-order language - interethnic and state, sooner or later may be outside the usual habitat. And he/she will look invalid among healthy.

Z. and T. Tolgurovs offer a program of measures to remedy the situation, which would look perfect fiction, if not the key words of the material. Here they are: Returning to old standards of teaching of Russian literature and language.

The editorial staff with great respect treats the authors of the article - people who speak the Russian language professionally, oral and written, being taught on Russian books, who shared their excellent knowledge of Russian language and literature with several generations of students, including those from the most remote auls. In everyday life, about some simple issue they can talk to Balkars in Balkar, but profoundly and, above all, during all their lifetime have been studying the most complex, multi-aspect and inclusive Russian language. This allows them to occupy a prominent position in the Russian literature and science.

Multinational editorial staff of «NC» with great satisfaction welcomed the appeal of Z. and T. Tolgurovs to put everything in the proper way. In brief, the essence of this appeal is this: if we well teach, learn and know RUSSIAN, we will be intelligent and cultural. If we become clever and cultural, we will better teach, learn and know the national language. Only in this order - there's no other way!

The editorial staff looks forward to continue discussion on this issue.