The Karaite communities: harnessing the multi-lingual linguistic strategies for nationalism

Dovilė Troskovaitė

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/FT.2020.004

Abstract


The Karaites communities of former Polish – Lithuanian Commonwealth in the beginning of the 20th century started a discussion in their communal press on which language they should adopt as their communal or national language. This view remained important during the first half of 20th century. It was considered as a tool for social and cultural consolidation of the communities and as an important aspect of their social image in the eyes of Polish society. Karaite leaders tried several different strategies for establishment of national language, starting from traditional bilingualism (Hebrew – Turkic) to different combinations of Russian – Hebrew, Polish – Turkic and etc. These initiatives grew stronger after the World War 1, when ethnic nationalism was arising both in Karaite communities and in dominating Polish society. The analysis of these language strategies was done using a model language planning elaborated by Geoffrey Haig in Kurdish language in modern Turkey, under the politics of Kemal Ataturk (Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, 1881–1938). The article has highlighted these strategies, analyzed argumentation, and presented linguistic reforms implemented in the Karaite communities in the first half of the 20th century. It was argued that the social image of Karaites in the dominating society played an important role in decision making by Karaite leaders. It was also understood that language was not only an important aspect of Karaite cultural identity but also a tool for integration into dominating society.


Keywords


Karaites; Poland; language planning; Seraja Szapszał; Turkic language; Turkey

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