Accepted Paper:

Implementation of a mother tongue in the early Soviet setting: the Komi-Permyak case  

Author:

Indrek Jääts (Estonian National Museum)

Paper short abstract:

Creating and introducing of the Komi-Permyak literary language in 1920s-1930s deserves academic attention as an interesting example of complex mutual relationship between competitive nation-building projects (Komi-Zyrian; Komi-Permyak) and the Soviet nationalities policy.

Paper long abstract:

Creating and introducing of the Komi-Permyak literary language in 1920s-1930s deserves attention as an interesting example of complex mutual relationship between competitive nation-building projects and the Soviet nationalities policy.

The Komi-Permyaks were a non-dominant ethnic group in the late Tsarist time. The Komi-Permyak language meant a bunch of dialects spoken among peasantry and was seldom used in written form. Russian served as the only official language in the area.

Revolution of 1917 changed a lot. Leading Bolsheviks believed that active support to the non-Russian ethnic cultures and languages (korenizatsiya) was the quickest way to promote socialist development of the non-Russians. A network of territorial autonomies was created for the "nationalities" and tens of new literary languages were established in 1920s-1930s.

It was not that simple for the Komi-Permyaks. They were linguistically rather close to the Komi-Zyrians and an idea of one Komi nation uniting both Zyrians and Permyaks was spread among the Zyrian communist elite. One literary language should serve both branches of the nation, according to them. However, Moscow continued to consider the Komi-Permyaks an individual ethnic unit deserving autonomy and literary language of their own.

What kind of role did the Soviet power and its various institutions play in creation and implementation of the Komi-Permyak literary language? How eagerly did small local intelligentsia, split between the Komi (Zyrian) and the Permyak orientations, join this effort of Soviet style nation-building? How did the Komi-Permyak peasants react to implementation of the new literary language in schools and in public?

Panel P34
The institutions and practices of nation building of Finno-Ugric minorities in Soviet and post-Soviet settings