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Tallinn, a multilingual city in the era of globalization: the challenges facing Estonian as a medium-sized language
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2015 (English)In: Urban diversities and language policies in medium-sized linguistic communities / [ed] Emili Boix-Fuster, Bristol: Multilingual Matters, 2015, 85-111 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This chapter deals with the greatest challenges currently facing the Estonian language in Tallinn in this era of globalisation. It starts by reviewing the macro-sociolinguistic figures that most clearly illustrate these challenges and then presents data gathered from in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with native speakers conducted at a language school in the city centre in 2008–2009. It examines these data through the prism of the language ideologies framework (Woolard, 1998), and, in particular, the conceptual divide between the ideological constructs ‘authenticity’ and ‘anonymity’ (Gal & Woolard, 2001; Woolard, 2008), arguing that these can help us understand the main challenges facing Estonian today.

In line with other contributions to this volume, this paper also argues that these challenges are felt not only by speakers of the language under discussion here but by speakers of many of the so-called ‘medium-sized’ languages of independent nation-states. As one of these languages, Estonian enjoys some self-assurance and protection but its small number of speakers regularly needs to use another language to communicate in broader contexts and today that language tends to be English. The shift in Estonia from the one-time hegemony of Russian to the present, when English has become the language for international purposes, highlights one of the most common dilemmas faced by medium-sized languages. In Estonia, this is accentuated by the undeniable presence of a community whose L1 is Russian.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Bristol: Multilingual Matters, 2015. 85-111 p.
Keyword [en]
Estonian, globalisation, medium-sized languages, language ideologies, authenticity
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-117229ISBN: 9781783093892OAI: diva2:812082
Available from: 2015-05-15 Created: 2015-05-15 Last updated: 2015-11-12Bibliographically approved

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Soler-Carbonell, Josep
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