Aleksei M. Ryzhkov

Laboratory for Arctic Social Sciences and Humanities, HSE University, Moscow, Russia

Evelina O. Petrova

Moscow, Russia

Andrian V. Vlakhov

Laboratory for Arctic Social Sciences and Humanities, HSE University, Moscow, Russia


The paper investigates some aspects of language policies and local identities in the Russian-Nordic borderlands. It focuses on the interplay between identification strategies of local groups and linguistic environment of the multicultural region. The concept of language policy used in the study encompasses a wide range of practices, attitudes, beliefs as well as management strategies that are connected to linguistic codes used by borderland inhabitants. The primary data was sourced from the in-depth anthropological interviews collected during the fieldwork in the north-west of Karelia and the west of Murmansk Oblast. Due to the nature of the material, the analysis in the article is limited to the Russian side of the region. One of the findings of the study is that good command of a Nordic language (Finnish for Karelia, Norwegian for Murmansk Oblast) is not common on the Russian side of the borderlands and associated with particular life scenarios. Another observation worth mentioning is that Finnish and Norwegian are represented differently in local identity narratives as well as in linguistic landscapes and educational practices. Besides, linguistic and cultural heterogeneity uniquely reflects the social life of the each of the two Russian borderland territories. Overall, the study contributes to the discussion on the multilingual and multicultural environment of the Russian-Nordic borderlands.

Keywords: Language policy, local identity, borderlands, Russia, Karelia, Murmansk region, Nordic countries, Finland, Norway

For citation: Ryzhkov A.M., Petrova E.O., Vlakhov A.V. Language policies and local identities in the russian-nordic borderland // Sociolinguistics. 2021. No.2 (6) [online]. Pp. 128–144. (In Eng.) DOI: 10.37892/2713-2951-2021-2-6-128-144