Vision statement (goals and research interests)

Rodnoy Yazyk journal is jointly published by the Institute of Linguistics at the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Institute for Bible Translation in Moscow, testifying to the close relationship between linguistics and Bible translation and also to the overlapping scholarly interests of these two organizations.

According to the latest estimates, there are about 7,000 languages in the world. Of these, more than 100 are spoken by the indigenous peoples of Russia and its neighboring post-Soviet countries, forming a sort of areal linguistic community. In terms of genetic relationships, these languages represent an array of independent language families: Indo-European, Turkic, Mongolic, Finno-Ugric, Abkhazo-Adyghean, Nakh-Dagestanian, and Kartvelian, among others.  Data from these language families have been used in historical reconstruction of proto-languages according to traditionally accepted genetic classifications, as well as in bolder reconstructions of macro-families that at first glance are very internally divergent. Historical-comparative research into the languages of the post-Soviet states is therefore welcome on the pages of Rodnoy Yazyk.  

Another promising area of research is the structural typology of these languages. In terms of morphology, they are primarily agglutinative. The Altaic languages are strongly agglutinative, the Uralic languages somewhat less so. The North Caucasian languages combine agglutination with synthetic characteristics, while the Abkhazo-Adyghean branch can be classified as polysynthetic.  Languages with especially interesting typological features include the incorporating Chukotko-Kamchatkan family. In terms of case marking typology, the languages of the former Soviet Union include both nominative-accusative systems (Indo-European, Turkic, Finno-Ugric, Tungus-Manchurian) and ergative-absolutive systems (North Caucasian and some of the Paleosiberian languages).

Articles on a broad range of sociolinguistic issues in the languages of Russia and its neighboring post-Soviet countries are likewise solicited for the pages of Rodnoy Yazyk.  These include questions of orthography development and usage, language and education, and language vitality and preservation.

Yet another area of linguistic research that is welcome in this journal is the language of the mass media. The languages of Russia and its neighboring countries are represented in a wide variety of local newspapers and journals, and are broadcast on radio and television programs. Books continue to be published in these minority languages, and many of them have a national theatrical company that puts on stage plays, ethnic music concerts, and sometimes children's productions. Some of these languages are even represented in the world of cinema.

Issues of language contact also play an important role in the sociocultural environments of the post-Soviet states. The Russian language has of course made a significant impact on all of the languages of the Soviet Union, while lexical items from other international languages have also entered many of these languages through the mediation of Russian, including borrowings in the realms of politics, science, technology, agriculture and everyday life. Over the years, the various language of the USSR have influenced each other, and some continue to do so today, although to a lesser degree than before.

Questions dealing with the translation of the Bible into these languages likewise have a place in Rodnoy Yazyk since such questions are frequently intricately tied to many of the linguistic issues listed above. The role of Bible translation in language preservation and development efforts among minority languages, as well as in orthography development and literacy campaigns in unwritten languages, cannot be understated. Translated Scripture texts likewise expand the stylistic, grammatical and lexical resources of a language, and often make up a sizeable part of a parallel textual corpus for researching minority languages.

In 1993, a journal entitled Rodnoy Yazyk was published and had many of the same research interests, but ceased being published after only its first volume due to a lack of finances. The editors of the new, reconstituted Rodnoy Yazyk believe that this journal will be of interest to both language scholars and to the general public.
A fuller version of RodnoyYazyk's vision can be found
in Russian in M.E. Alekseev's article in Issue #1, pp. 8-17.