"Mother tongue and Fatherland"
Effects on literature, press and academic language
Kiev, Minsk, Warsaw
panel in Berlin 15 June 2007
0049 - (0)89/15921-876
“Language means not only rebirth,” as the Romanian author Norman Manea writes, “but also legitimation, genuine citizenship and affiliation.” Different experiences inform a language under pressure: geographical distance from the mother country, from groups or individuals, whose language becomes a world-shaping force against the background of flight and exile.
Another way in which totalitarian rule proved itself to be unparalleled was that it produced a totalitarian language which changed people in a previously unknown way.
“…for nowhere is it so manifest that the language ‘is meant not for you and not for me’ as in the totalitarian state where the me and the you do not exist and the most popular personal pronoun is the threatening ‘we’, where one doesn’t know who or what is behind it” (Imre Kertész, Hungarian writer).
Or as Dieter Schlesak, German-language writer in Romania, says, “not only the writer, but each individual who endeavours to regain his self has the need and the duty to release himself from the current language, the prevailing linguistic rules.”
The project “Language and Repression” serves as a forum for writers, journalists and academics exposed to such a language situation – i.e. a repressive one.
It is taking place in Warsaw (Poland), Minsk (Belarus) and Kiev (Ukraine). The events put on by the Goethe-Instituts there form discussion platforms for their partners and their audience.
One author each from Poland, Belarus and Ukraine will be invited to the “Power of Language” festival in Berlin in June 2007, where they will engage in conversation with one another and reflect publicly on their situation under present conditions.
"National languages, linguae francae and native languages"
An exchange of information and experience between Ukrainian and German authors
March 20 2007, 7.00 pm
Tel. +380 44 4969785
When Ukraine became independent in 1991, Ukrainian became the new state’s official language. In fact, back in 1918, when the Ukrainian People’s Republic was established, Ukrainian was made the state language for the first time, as it was again later in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. So during the Soviet period, Ukrainian was not banned, but Russian dominated as the lingua franca of all academic and literary work and of the media. For this reason, conversational Ukrainian is still exposed to strong Russian influences.
The designation of Ukrainian as the official language sparked off vigorous debates, since on the one hand between 22 and 40 % (depending on your statistics) of the population are Russian, and on the other many Ukrainians, especially in the east of the country, speak only Russian. Due to this historical development, the language issue remains highly political terrain for many Ukrainians.
Ukrainian authors – like Andrij Kurkov – write in Russian (mainly in the east, Kiev and the Crimea), or – like Yuri Andrukhovych – in Ukrainian (mainly in the west). As time goes on, the number of authors writing in Russian, especially amongst the younger generation, is likely to decline, but there have not yet been any academic studies into this.
How do Ukrainian authors cope with this language policy situation? How is it reflected in the literary treatment of their subjects and their own literary language? What are the prospects for literary Russian in Ukraine, particularly in the context of the literary heritage?
In Germany, authors of Turkish origin – such as Emine Sevgi Özdamar and Zafer Senocak – frequently consider the experiences of migration and movement between two cultures. But they write in German and regard themselves as German. Nevertheless, the genre of German-Turkish literature has developed over the years and has a firm place in cultural activity. What does this development mean for literary output in Germany? In what form do these and similar literatures influence the processes of the development of national identity? What comparable processes can be observed in both countries?
Andrij Kurkow writes in Russian
Andrij Kokotjucha writes in Ukrainian and Russian
Eleonora Hummel, grown up in Kazakhstan, writes in German.
simultaneous translation: Russian, German, Ukrainian
Publishers, journalists, translators, the general public with an interest in literature