Linguistic Landscape of Uzbekistan: The Rise and Fall of Uzbek, Russian, Tajik, and English
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The spread of foreign languages and local people’s motivation and resistance to learn them are not new phenomena in Uzbekistan. In fact, as a result of various political, social, and economic changes, language reform in Uzbekistan has gone through several major changes within the last hundred years, including Romanization of the Arabic-based alphabet in 1923 (Uzman. J R Asiat Soc 20(1):49–60, 2010), dissemination of the Russian language in the Uzbek lexicon in the early 1900s (Fierman. Language planning and national development: The Uzbek experience. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin/New York, 1991), adoption of the Cyrillic script in 1940, replacement of the Cyrillic alphabet with modified Latin script in 1993, disempowerment of the Russian language after the collapse of the Soviet Union (Hasanova. English Today 23(1):3–9, 2007), and the widespread use of the English language in the educational system in the late 1990s. This study, the first of its kind, uses qualitative methods to investigate the linguistic landscape of pre- and post-Soviet Uzbekistan. It specifically examines the social, political, and educational contexts to illustrate the rise and fall of Russian, Uzbek, and English languages before and after Uzbekistan declared its independence. The study was specifically provoked by the linguistic chaos that happened in formerly Soviet Republics, including Uzbekistan, in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. With the downfall of the Iron Curtain in 1991, Russian, the lingua franca of the Soviet people and one of the dominant languages of the twentieth century, lost its influence and status as the language of power and prestige, while Uzbek, the abandoned language with an ambiguous role during the Soviet reign, became the only official language of power and politics, while English, once considered the language of Western capitalism and bourgeoisie (Dushku. World Englishes 17(3):369–379, 1998), became the most popular foreign language in the educational sector.
KeywordsGlobalization Multilingualism Language contact Linguistic landscape
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