Categorization of the Chuvash Language in the Chuvash Republic and Beyond

  • Marina Kutsaeva
Part of the Language Policy book series (LAPO, volume 21)


The article deals with the categorization of Chuvash, a Turkic language, spoken by Chuvash people (their population number is 1435872) and spread in the areas along the Volga and the Urals. In present day Chuvash as well as Russian is a state language in the Chuvash Republic, its legal status being determined in the Constitution of the Russian Federation and that of the Chuvash Republic. Historically the area inhabited by Chuvash speakers goes beyond the administrative borders of the Republic, almost a half of Chuvash ethnic groups live in various regions in Russia either in compact or disperse groups as internal migrants. In a number of regions in accordance with the Law “On Languages of the Peoples of the Russian Federation” (1991, modified in 1998, 2002, 2013 and 2014), Chuvash enjoys a status of a language of population in an area of compact residence (art. 3.4) and therefore it can be used in official spheres, as a language of instruction and education, a language of mass media, etc. In areas, where ethnic groups are disperse, their languages do not have a legal status, the only category that can be assigned to them is that of a “native language” (rodnoj âzyk) the category itself is confusing, though widely used in censuses and legal acts. The field research was conducted in a group of 100 Chuvash interviewees, members of Moscow region community. The paper demonstrates the problem of determination of the category of a native language: the recognition of an ethnic language as native does not attest of a language competence, rather of language loyalty, which frequently manifests itself in migrants setting.


Chuvash State language Native language Ethnic language Internal migration 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marina Kutsaeva
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Linguistics of the Russian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussian Federation

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