Olga A. Leshchenko

Russian Federation


In this article the problem of language shift is described in the Republic of Dagestan at the present time. The issue of disappearance of small languages is global, and minority languages in Russia are not an exception. In addition to that, some Dagestan’s non-written languages of ethnic communities do not have any legal status; furthermore, the total number of speakers of these languages does not exceed three thousand. Also, about 20 languages are in the “definitely endangered” category (according to the UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger). The purpose of the article is to identify the factors affecting the language shift based on a sociolinguistic survey of 38 respondents living in the republic, as well as to determine practical recommendations that can support the native languages of ethnic groups in this region. By analyzing questionnaires, statistical demographic data, and official legislative data, a list of the 5 most common factors is presented that causes the regional languages of Dagestan to experience a decrease in the number of native speakers and the use of these languages in everyday activities. Taking into account the international recommendations for the maintenance of small languages, the article provides a list of measures that contribute to the support of the languages of Dagestan: the basic needs and rights of native speakers of small languages are listed, and recommendations are given for the interaction between representatives of the authorities and ethnic groups in order to maintain their native languages.

Keywords: language policy, language shift, language situation, multilingualism, lingua franca, languages of the peoples of the North Caucasus

For citation: Leshchenko, O.A. Factors affecting the language shift in Dagestan [online] // Sociolinguistics. 2021. No. 2 (6). Pp. 84–100. (In Russ.) DOI: 10.37892/2713-2951-3-7-84-100