The Historical Sociolinguistics of Spelling
  • ISSN 1387-6732
  • E-ISSN: 1570-6001
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After the 1863 uprising, in order to diminish Polish influence over Lithuanians, the authorities of the Russian Empire banned the use of Latin letters for Lithuanian texts and implemented the Cyrillic script. The article discusses the linguistic ideologies that underlay this orthographic reform for Lithuanian. The study provides a discursive analysis of opposing accounts expressed in contemporary administrative and media discourses by the key supporters and opponents of the reform. Competing discourses regarding the use of Cyrillic vs. Latin for Lithuanian contested, shaped, and defined the ideological meanings of these scripts: Cyrillic was symbolically linked to Russification, Russianness, Orthodoxy, and Imperial authority, while the Latin script was associated with Polonization, Polishness, the Catholic Church, and anti-imperial resistance. The competing discourses regarding the alphabet change for Lithuanian, via its differentiation from the imposed Cyrillic as well as from the Latin-Polish writing tradition, helped to shape and define the notion of a modern Lithuanian alphabet.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Cyrillic; ideology; Latin script; Lithuanian; nineteenth century; orthographic reform
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