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4. Appeals and News from Endangered Communities

Highland Council Persecutes Gaelic Activists
From Alasdair MacCaluim

for Comann Ceilteach Oilthigh Dhun Eideann
9 October 1999:

More than forty years ago Eileen and Trefor Beaseley refused to pay their local rates until they received a bill in Welsh from Llanelli Rural District Council. They stood firmly by their principles and their language even though they almost lost their home as a result. The Beaseleys won the fight at the end of the day and their struggle was a great inspiration to the Welsh language movement.

Unbelievably, a local council in Scotland is doing the very same thing right now, at the end of 1999. Highland Council has imposed a heavy fine on Magaidh and Roy Wentworth, who have done outstanding work for Gaelic and who live in Geŕrrloch, Wester Ross. Magaidh and Roy have paid all the council tax due every penny of it but they are not willing to complete an English-language tax form.

Highland Council recently launched a bilingual policy in which they claim to be working to secure and strengthen the position of Gaelic in the area. As such it is disgraceful that they insist on persecuting the Wentworths in this way.

Even if we are forty years behind, we must follow the Welsh path. Every pressure must be brought to bear on Highland Council until they cancel this outrageous fine and until they distribute bilingual forms as they should.

Write to:
David Green Convenor
Alan Geddes Director of Finance
(01463) 702000 (01463) 702301
The Highland Council
Glenurquhart Road
Inverness IV3 5NX
E-mail: webmaster(at)

Radio Finland Starts Short-Wave Broadcasts in Mari and Udmurt

Article by Jouko Grönholm from Turun Sanomat "Turku News" of 21 Oct. 1999, translated by Chris Moseley.

At the end of October the Finnish Broadcasting Company made an exciting breakthrough. Broadcasts in the Mari and Udmurt languages began to be heard on the air.

The weekly reviews in Mari and Udmurt are the result of an agreement between the Company and the M.A. Castrén Society [named after M.A. Castrén (1813-1852), pioneer explorer and scholar of the Finno-Ugrian languages]. The project is being carried out as part of the work of the Finno-Ugrian Department at the University of Turku in Finland.

The idea is the brainchild of the broadcasting company’s long-standing Moscow correspondent, Martti Hosia.

Alevtina Nikolayeva, aged 22, who is a Mari, and Sergey Maksimov, 32, an Udmurt, are translating the magazine programme about Finnish events into their own mother tongues. The two postgraduates, who are on grants to study at the University of Turku, are also reading the news reports they have translated.

"These radio broadcasts will increase the sense of nationhood," say Alevtina and Sergey.

"Both the Mari and Udmurt languages are struggling against the overwhelming onslaught of Russian. These programmes will remind people that our languages are spoken in areas other than our own; at the same time they give a signal of how important it is to maintain contact with our linguistic relatives, chiefly the Finns and Hungarians."

There are currently about 670,000 Mari people; half of them live in the republic that bears their name on a bend in the Volga. There are about 747,000 Udmurts; one third of those live outside their home republic. When they return to their hoe towns of Yoshkar-Ola and Izhevsk, Alevtina and Sergey will carry on as Finno-Ugrian language researchers; it is over 2,000 km from Turku to their homelands.

Short-wave broadcasts are audible all over the former Soviet Union. If the listener understands Mari or Udmurt, he or she will have a chance to hear the news even far away from the actual language areas. It is still very common to listen to foreign stations in Russia, and receivers capable of tuning in to short-wave programmes are an everyday phenomenon.

In its initial phase, over the winter period 1999-2000, the weekly review is broadcast alternately in Mari and Udmurt. It is available on the same frequences as the company’s Russian-language news broadcasts. The first broadcast, in both Mari and Udmurt, went out on Sunday. 31st October.

Oifig Ullans ~ Ulster Scots Office for Donegal

Donegal on the Net 24 Dec 1999

There has been mixed reaction to the announcement that one of the six cross border bodies established under the auspices of the North-South Ministerial Council (set up under the Good Friday Agreement) is to have a regional office in Donegal. The Ullans Agency, to promote the Scots Ulster dialect of English, will be in the East of the County. The decision not to locate the headquarters of the North-South Language Body in the Donegal Gaeltacht has come in for some criticism while others believe that encouraging an non-existent language is a waste of money and could have a detrimental effect on the survival of Irish. Jim Devenney, a native of Newtoncunningham, has been appointed to the Ullans Agency and is among several Donegal people appointed to various bodies under the terms of the Agreement, including Brid Rodgers, Minister for Agriculture in the new Stormont Assembly; Liam O'Cuinneagain; Keith Anderson; Siobhan Logue and Andrew Ward.

Request to "Smaller" Language Speakers

Caroline Lee writes:

If there is anyone who speaks a "small" language and has a few personal words -- whether a phrase, a proverb, anything he or she wants to say, a conte or legend, ANYTHING, or even ideograms, pictures, or a recorded message -- in the original language (with or without translation into English and French) -- that he or she would like to express, please send this along to my email address below, or to: carolinedunord_98(at) My snailmail address is 37, Boulevard St. Germain F75005 Paris FRANCE.

This is for my diploma project. My idea is to create an interactive space to celebrate endangered languages, linguistic, cultural and biodiversity.

If anyone has any questions, please contact me.

Thank you very much.
Caroline Lee

Dynamics of the Development of Gagauz Culture, by Larisa Yakut

In this summary I try to give a short overview on dynamics of Gagauz culture and its prospects in the nearest future.

Gagauz are Turkic-speaking Orthodox Christians that live in Southern Moldova (near towns Comrat, Chadyr, Vulcaneshti) and Ukraine (Odessa region).

In territory that has been called the Budzhak Step, the Gagauz had migrated from Northeast Bulgaria at the end of 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries. There are nearly 5,000 Gagauz living in the Black Sea towns Varna, Dobrich, Kavarna (Bruk 1987). Unestimated Gagauz populations live in Romania (Dobrudzha and Silistra region) (Berg 1993).

Some Gagauz households migrated at the beginning of this century from Moldova to the Caucusus (in villages of Kabardino-Balkariya and Ossetia), Kazakhstan (Amanzholov 1964) and Central Asia in search of a better life (Bigaev, Danilov, Umarov 1961).

The majority of the neighbouring nations, with whom the Gagauz had had long-lasting cultural and socioeconomic contacts (Bulgarians, Turks, Russians, Romanians), have claimed their kinship to this Turkic group or tried to assimilate it, thus sparking century-long debates over the ethnogenesis of the Gagauz. There are more than two dozen hypotheses and theories on the origin of these peoples (Derzhavin 1937, Boev 1996). Today, known theories fall in two groups : those of "Turkic" and "Non-Turkic" origin of the Gagauz. Defendants of their Turkic origin linked them to Turkic nomadic tribes of the past (Pechenegs, Kumans, Uz, Oguz, Kara-Kalpaks and Seldzhuks ) that moved from Altay to the southern frontiers of Russia (Northern Black Sea) in 7th-11th centuries. Adherents of the second group have claimed Gagauz to be in kinship to the Greeks and Bulgarians, defining them as Ellyns or Prabulgars. (Shkorpil 1933-1934). The main argument in these theories is the fact of confession by Gagauz of the Orthodox Christian religion (unlike other Turks). Because of the lack of any documented sources, none of the theories have been proved up to the present day (Guboglo 1967).

A pioneer of scientific studies of the Gagauz was V. Moshkov - historian, ethnographer and anthropologist (Kononov 1989). Conducting his studies at the beginning of the century, Moshkov has left an invaluable collection of Gagauz musical folklore and customs. (Moshkov 1904). Some sporadic studies had been carried out through the 20s and 30s in north-eastern Bulgaria (Kowalskii 1921, Manov 1938). In the 50s and 60s significant folk material had been collected by turcologists in Gagauz villages of Bulgaria and Bessarabia (Zajoncskovskiy 1961, Pokrovskaya 1953). Pokrovskaya continued the legacy of Moshkov in studying and educating the Gagauz. In 1953 she defended her thesis on Gagauz folk lyrics, and later has published the first Gagauz Grammar and studies on its syntax (Pokrovskaya 1964, 1978). She also developed orthographical rules for the language and edited dozens of textbooks on Gagauz grammar for schools and colleges. Her mentorship gave rise to such turkologists as: Gaydarzhi G., Sycheva V., Koltsa E., and Tukan B. They greatly contributed to the scientific development of the Gagauz language. Professor Pokrovskaya has remained the leading figure in Gagauz studies - with her legacy of 120 monographs and articles on its philology and folklore (Baurchulu 1998).

Only recently has Gagauz become a written language. Long-lasting ethno-social contacts with other nationalities (mostly non-Turkic) created a multicultural environment for development of all sides of the Gagauz nation, defining its folklore and language. As Eastern Orthodox Christians Gagauz embraced similar traditions and ceremonies to those of neighbouring cultures (Moldavian, Romanian, Bulgarian, and Russian). Dual (Turkic, non-Turkic) features added to the uniqueness of the Gagauz language and folklore. However those contacts also had a devastating effect on the language. It became almost fully dependent on foreign lexicon and structure. Despite decades of erosion and attempts to assimilate it, the Gagauz language remains a basis of the ethnic identity of its people.

Gagauz language belongs to West-Oguz group of the Turkic language family, along with modern Crimean - Tartar, Turkmen, Turkish, Azeri, Uygur, and Uzbek (Baskakov 1962). With initiatives of the Soviet government and turcologists (Dmitriev N. and Pokrovskaya L.) the Gagauz received their alphabet (Cyrillic version) on July 30, 1957. Classes and elementary schools in teaching of the Gagauz language followed. That spurred writing activity and publishing of textbooks in the native tongue. the schools were soon closed again (in 1961), but in these three years Gagauz culture leaped forward with emerging of its first intelligentsia and scholars that continued the literacy process during this period of repression of cultural identity. For almost three decades (from early 60s to late 80s) Gagauz language and culture remained in stagnation. Usage of Gagauz was limited to a family encirclement and mostly to its older generation of speakers. The young Gagauz people, born in 70-80s, cannot speak or even understand their native tongue. Some turcologists were predicting extinction of the language by the end of this century.

Since 1995 there has been a period of transition for Gagauz language from Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet , which is more suitable to its phonetics (Pashaly 1995). The problem of literacy and preparing readers for newly published materials in the 60s has shifted in the 90s to the problem of inadequacy of teaching in new alphabet and availability of books in it (Anatolieva 1997). There remain untranslated books of Gagauz classics like D.Karachoban, D.Tanasoglu, N. Baboglu. Scientific terminology is in process of being created. It is developing slowly and relies heavily on sources from other languages, like Russian or English.

Along with other foreign languages, Gagauz was restored in schools in the status of a subject of study in 1986. Since 1989 there have been organized annual Olympiads for students on which they test their knowledge of the written Gagauz word. (Vesti Gagauzii 1997). In 1994 in Chadyr the first Anglo-Turkish Lyceum was founded with nearly 70 students. Opened since 1988 has been a section of Gagauz Philology at the Pedagogical College I. Krianga (Khishinev). It graduated 13 students in 1993 and 48 in1994 for the needs of Gagauz schools in the region (Anatolieva 1997). In 1989 the section of Gagauzology of the Department of Minorities of the Academy of Moldova began research and activities on preserving Gagauz cultural heritage. The section organized numerous conferences, folk and ethnographic expeditions and has established scientific ties with scholars from Turkic republics of NIS, Turkey, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Germany. (Vesti Gagauzii 1996). Comrat University has had five graduations since its opening in 1994. Its alumni work in numerous branches of Gagauzia’s structures. Prof. Pokrovskaya has taught more than 90 students there and published the first syllabi of lectures on the Gagauz language. In collaboration with the university many libraries in the United States acquired materials on Gagauz issues. Annual international conferences are held at Comrat University with help of Turkish scholars. In the late 80s, after years of inertia and assimilation that nearly denationalized the Gagauz, the process began of collaborating with turcologists of other countries to reconstruct and preserve Gagauz language and culture. Turkey and later Bulgaria rendered significant assistance to the Gagauz. With Turkish help, in 1997 alone more than 20 books (including materials for newly opened Comrat University) have been published. Among them is the latest research on the ethnonym "Gagauz". (Pokrovskaya 1997). The Comrat University, with its three departments (agriculture, economics and national culture) and 1500 students (of all nationalities of Budzhak region), has established contacts with Turkish and Bulgarian universities that help with literature and equipment (Cherveni 1998).


The University of Sofia organized the first expedition in Gagauz areas of Bulgaria with participants from Moldova in1996. Today more than 250 students from Moldova study in different colleges in Turkey and dozens in Bulgaria. (Railian, Kurdova,1997).

Only after 1989 did Gagauz media begin its development: the first central paper for the Gagauz was released in Khishinev (Ana Sözü - Mother’s Tongue), along with local papers in Russian and Gagauzian: Vesti Gagauzii "Gagauz News" (Comrat), Gagauz Sesi "Voice of Gagauz "(Chadyr). Major politico-economical journal Sabah Yildizi "Morning Star" and the Children’s magazine Guneschik "Sun" were published in 1997. Budzhak Dalgasi "The Wave of Budzhak"- a TV station from Khishinev, transmits an hourly programme in Gagauz and other local tongues weekly. There are are also local TV and radio stations (in cities of Comrat, Chadyr and Vulcanesti).

In November 1988 Gagauz Halki "Gagauz People", organized by group of Gagauz intelligentsia, demanded freedoms and rights to its nation in Moldova. In August 1990 the Gagauz declared their independent "Gagauz Republic" around the city of Comrat, on South of Moldova. The 1994 Constitution accorded them a measure of autonomy and a decree later that year officially established Gagauzia (called Gagauz-Yeri in Gagauz) (Fedor 1995).

After years of mistrust and mutual biases, the new politico-economical climate in Moldova has allowed the establishment of numerous non-profit structures and organizations for Gagauz intelligentsia and artists. In Moldavian republic now function Societies of Gagauz Writers, Gagauz Artists and Painters, and Association of Gagauz Women.

A unique professional institution, the theatre Umut "Hope" opened in Chadyr for its audience in 1997. It was first a student activity but grew to the status of a national theatre (Cherveni 1998). In its repertoire, along with world classics, works of Gagauz playwriters are widely presented. The area of cinematography for the local artists still remains unestablished. There are only two documentaries depicting folk and ethnographical reality of the Gagauz people, shot by D. Karachoban and L. Pokrovskaya in 60-70s (Baurchulu 1998).

From political achievements such as establishing autonomy the Gagauz people meet the challenges of economical, social, cultural and political nature. There is a great need for further cooperation with local organizations and institutions of other minorities as well as with turkological centers around the world.

With a drastically diminished population of native speakers preserving a language, the main treasure of its people, has become a priority for the Gagauz intelligentsia. However, the problems the young republic is facing today cannot offset its great achievements in this dramatic yet dynamic decade.

Works Cited

Amanzholov A.S. O Gagauzah v Kazakhstane i ih Yazyke. In.: Problemy Turkologiyi i Istoriyi Vostokovedeniya. Kazan, 1964, pp.258-265.

Anatolieva, Irina. Doroga k Sebe. Nezavisimaya Moldova, 12 Dec. 1997, 3. Vesti Gagauzii, 22 Mar. 1997, 2.

Baskakov, N.A. Istoriko-Tipologicheskaya Fonologiya Turkskikh Iazykov. M., 1988.

Baurchulu, L. Ee Znayut Turkologi Vsego Mira. Vesti Gagauzii,19 Sept.1998, 3.

Berg, L.S. Bessarabia. Khishinev. 1993, 124-126.

Bigaev R.I., Danilov P.A.,Umarov M.U. O Gagauzah Srednei Asii. Izvestiia AN UzSSR, 6, 1960, 60-65.

Boev, E. Ne Zabluzhdeniye, a Lozh o Gagauzakh. Sofia, 1996, 16 pp.

Bruk, S.I. Etnograficheskiy Spravochnik Naseleniye Mira – Moskva. 1987, 207, 211, 299-230.

Cherveni, M. Edinstvennyi v Istorii. Nezavisimaya Moldova. Jan.6, 1998, 3.

Derzhavin, N.S. O Naimenovaniyi i Etnicheskoy Prinadlezhnosti Gagauzov. Sovetskaya Etnografiya 1, 1937, 80-87.

Dmitriev N.K. Gagauzskie Etudy, Stroi Turkskikh Iazykov. In : Issledovaniia po Sravnitelnoi

Grammatike Turkskikh Iazykov. V.1. M., 1955, 251-270.

Fedor, Helen. ed. Belarus and Moldova: country studies/ Federal Research Division. Library of Congress, 1st. ed. May, 1995.

Guboglo, M. Etnicheskaya prinadlezhnosti gagauzov. Sovwetskaya Etnografiya, 3. 1967, 160-167.

Kononov, A.M.M. Bibliograficheskiy Slovari Otechestvennykh Turkologov. Dooctyabrskiy Period. Red1989, 168.

Krepnut Svyazi Etnologov.-Vesti Gagauzii, Sept.21, 1996, 3.

Linin An. K Voprosam Formalnogo Izucheniya Poezii Turetskikh Narodov. Izvestiia Vostochnogo Faculteta Azerbaidjanskogo Gosudarstvennogo Universiteta, t.I, Baku, 1926.

Manov, At. Potekloto Na Gagauzite I Tehnite Obichai I Nravi. V 2 ch. Varna, 1938. Marunevich, M.V. Turtsiya - Strana Dvukh Kontinentov.-Vesti Gagauzii, 19 Sept.,1998, 4.

Moshkov, V.A. Narechiya Bessarabskih Gagauzov. Texty Sobrany i Perevedeny. Izd. V. Radlova v

Serii " Obraztsy Narodnoy Literatury Turkskih Plemen", ch.X. Spb.1904, v.2.

Pashaly, P.M. Postanovleniye Narodnogo Sobraniya Gagauzii o Perevode Gagauzskoy

Pismennosti na Latinskuyu Grafiku. Vesti gagauzii, 1995,1.

Pokrovskaya L.A. Narodnye Pesni Gagauzov Moldaviyi I Ukrainy. Sofia, 1971, 743-744.

Pokrovskaya, L. A. Pesennoye Tvorchestvo Gagauzov (Avtoreferat Kandidatskoy Dissertatsiyi), Leningrad, 1953.

Pokrovskaya, L. Gagauz Kelimesinin Kökeni Üzerine Yeni Bir Görüs. Red. Prof. Dr. S.H. Akalin. Turkoloji Arastirmalari, Adana, 1997.

Pokrovskaya, L.A. Osnovnye cherty fonetiki sovremennogo gagauzskogo yazyka, Voprosy Dialectologii Turkskih Iiazykov.V.II, Baku, 1960, 170-190.

Pokrovskaya, L.A. Grammatika Gagauzskogo Yazyka. Fonetika I Morfologiya. M.1964.

Pokrovskaya, L.A. Sintaksis Gagauzskogo Yazyka v Sravnitelnom Osveshcheniyi. M., 1978.

Railian, I. Kurdova, R. Turkologi Dvukh Stran Obyedinyayutsya. Vesti Gagauzii, 12. Dec., 1997, 2.

Shkorpil, K. Materialy Kum Voprosa za Proishoda na Dneshnite Bulgari. Bysantoslavica. Praha, 1933-1934, 162-182.

Zajonchkowskiy, Wl. Jezyk i Folklor Gagauzov z Bulgarii. Krakowie, 1966.

Yakut, Larisa

888 Vermont St. Apt. 1C,
North Bend, OR 97459-3370 USA
Tel: +1 (541)751-8685 Fax: +1 (541)888-7953

Petition to the President of the Italian Republic, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi

Esteemed Mr President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi,

The undersigned linguists invite you to sign the ratification of the bill 3366, definitively approved by the Italian Parliament on 25th of November 1999.

The recognition and preservation of the language and cultures of the Sardinian, Friulian, Occitan, Valdaostan, Franco-Provençal, German, Greek, Slovenian, Albanian, Catalan, Ladinian and Croatian minorities does not harm the Standard Italian language. The preservation of diversity is a sign of freedom, open-mindedness, of true multiculturalism and of sincere Europeanism.

Moreover, the recognition of the principle that diversity should be preserved could, in the future, turn out to be very useful for the Italian language itself. In a European context, the same arguments, which today are used against Regional languages (the so-called dialects) could also be used against present day state-languages: the production of culture which is not standardised according to the needs of the strongest social groups always implies higher financial costs and psychological resistance. For society as a whole, however, the value of this culture is simply inestimable.

Moreover, we invite you to promote, in the appropriate places, a constructive debate about the recognition of other languages and cultures such as those of the regions Piedmont, Veneto, Sicily, Campania, Emilia Romagna, Liguria, Lombardy. These languages and cultures are already recognised by important studies of UNESCO (The UNESCO Red Book of Endangered Languages 93-96) and by several regional councils (Veneto, Piedmont, Emilia Romagna).

Linguists consider the hierarchical distinction between "language" and "dialect" to be an artifact of old-fashioned state bureaucracies, still bound to the Romantic concept of State-Nation. The myth of linguistic homogeneity of peoples has played a very important role during last century. This supposed homogeneity would constitute the base of a nation, from which the right/duty to found its own state would follow. In Europe, this myth has lead to the foundation of several states, including Italy, which nowadays constitute the European Union.

To question this myth, however, does not mean to question the unity of a state. On the contrary, to recognise the existence of linguistic diversity means to help the modern state to reform the social agreement between its citizens on a more realistic and, most importantly, on a more democratic basis.

Multilingualism is not only a fundamental part of our past, but also an inevitable future for the whole of mankind, and a very attractive future, too: the knowledge of several languages is a great richness which many of us are very grateful to possess. Multilingualism is the best insurance against intolerance.

With our best regards and respect, v [96 signatures.]

If you would like to sign up, write to sa-Limba

23 de Nadale de 1999. Eva Remberger

Sweden agrees ratification of Charter for Regional or Minority Languages Leena Huss 22 Dec 1999

Dear Friends,
I would like to inform you that the Swedish Parliament agreed on December 2 1999 on the ratification of the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities and the Council of Europe Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. The officially recognized national minorities of Sweden will be the Jews, the Roma, the Sami, the Sweden Finns and the Tornedalians, and the languages recognized will be Finnish, Menkieli (also called 'Tornedalian Finnish'), Romani, Sami, and Yiddish. The ratifications will come into force on April 1(!) 2000. Sami, Finnish and Menkieli will get a special status as official languages some (four for Sami, five for Menkieli and Finnish) of the northern municipalities. This is a significant reorientation on the part of the Swedish State, as Sweden has in the past concentrated its efforts on immigrant languages and largely ignored its historical minorities.
Leena Huss

Dr. Leena Huss
Centre for Multiethnic Research
Uppsala University, Box 514
S-75120 Uppsala Sweden

Phone: +46-18-471 2361 Fax: 2363