Izvestiya of Saratov University.

Philology. Journalism

ISSN 1817-7115 (Print)
ISSN 2541-898X (Online)

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Shamilov R. M. Two alphabets for one minority language as a threat to its existence (a case study of Lezgian). Journal Izvestiya of Saratov University. Philology. Journalism, 2023, vol. 23, iss. 3, pp. 254-261. DOI: 10.18500/1817-7115-2023-23-3-254-261, EDN: HGRXPU

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Two alphabets for one minority language as a threat to its existence (a case study of Lezgian)

Shamilov Raviddin Mirzoevich, Nizhny Novgorod State Linguistic University named after N. A. Dobrolyubov

The paper deals with the failed attempt of the Republic of Azerbaijan to introduce an additional Latin-based alphabet for the Lezgian language, which has been using the Cyrillic script since the late 30s of the 20th century to the present day. It provides a brief history of Lezgian script from ancient times to the present day, analyzes the current state and condition of Lezgian being spoken on the territory corresponding to its historical base – the Republic of Dagestan (Russia) and the Republic of Azerbaijan – and establishes its status as a minority and vulnerable language. With reference to the Latin-based alphabet of Lezgian which was in use from 1928 to 1938 and apparently has been offered as such in the Republic of Azerbaijan, linguistic disadvantages of the possible transition of Lezgian alphabet to the Latin script are revealed. The example of Lezgian suggests that an attempt by the state to provide a language which is recognized as a minority and, to some extent, even minorized language in it with an extra alphabet, as well as the lack of it at all, can be regarded as a real threat to the very existence of the language. The author concludes that despite the fact that there are a few other examples of biscriptalism represented by majority and official languages, to the development and existence of which the simultaneous use of another script in another country poses no threat, in case of Lezgian the biscriptalism could have a destructive impact on its development and cause social risks such as the loss of ethnic and cultural identity of Lezgian speakers, the division of the Lezgi people into two separate groups totally devoid of ethnic consciousness and their subsequent irreversible assimilation. 

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