Bilingualism in Tatarstan after 1990s: Will Tatar Survive in City?

Mınsafına A.

in: he City: Literary Encounters / Şehir: Edebî Karşılaşmalar, Erman Gören,Ebru Yener Gökşenli,Mehmet Şerif Eskin,Bülent Çağlakpınar, Editor, Istanbul University, İstanbul, pp.167-178, 2021

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Research Book
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Publisher: Istanbul University
  • City: İstanbul
  • Page Numbers: pp.167-178
  • Editors: Erman Gören,Ebru Yener Gökşenli,Mehmet Şerif Eskin,Bülent Çağlakpınar, Editor


The national policy of the Soviet government has strengthened the Russian language over the whole territory of the USSR. Until 1990, Russian was the only language of interethnic communication. Tatar had a restricted sphere of usage and a low level of social prestige. As a result of implementing a non-ethnic monolingual society strategy in the USSR, bilingualism in the territory of modern Tatarstan and especially in cities was very asymmetric. From 1992 on, with recognition of Russian and Tatar as equal state languages in the Republic of Tatarstan, one of the main goals of the language policy in the republic has been to expand the social and cultural function of the Tatar language, raising its role and increasing the number of speakers. According to the current situation, Tatar-Russian bilingualism with Tatar being the dominant language is widespread in rural areas. In cities, especially large ones, the main medium of communication is Russian. Though almost all rural Tatars consider the Tatar language to be their native language, internal migration from village to city favors the expansion of Russian language usage and localization of the usage of Tatar. Urbanization contributes to the wide use of Russian and leads to the Russification of the significant part of the urban population. Russian monolingualism in cities is especially obvious in science, education, and technologies. Today the entire population of the republic speaks Russian, while only 86% of Tatars and only 7.5% of Russians can speak Tatar. With the process of urbanization, these numbers may change soon, not giving a chance for Tatar to become an equal city language.