publications & papers
My genius, my language
Reflections on language in
by Vitalij G. Kostomarov
(page updated 9 July 2002)
Front cover (click to enlarge)
Vitalij G. Kostomarov
genius, my language
translator: John Woodsworth
in one volume with a French translation by Marie Lamothe
Ottawa, Legas Publishing,
14 x 21 cm; x + 57 pp. (English); x + 62 pp. (français)
address: 3 Wood Aster Bay
Canada K2R 1B3
personal perspective from one of Russiaís leading educational thinkers
(past president of the USSR Academy of Pedagogical Sciences) on the phenomenon
of bilingualism in modern society, as reflected in the role of Russian
as a lingua franca among the peoples of the former Soviet Union
(with comparisons to Canada)
In this book the author attempts
to answer such questions as: What is meant by native language?
Is bilingualism useful? What is the best way of conducting language
policy in a ëmulti-nationalí country? -- controversial questions
which are not always given competent treatment.
Dr Vitalij Kostomarov has written
a considerable number of articles and books for both scholars and
the general public on linguistic topics, especially on teaching Russian
to speakers of other languages both in the Soviet Union and abroad
From the Preface by BERNARD PHILOGÈNE
(then Vice-Rector Academic, University of Ottawa)
"Professor Kostomarov brings to the debate his enlightened
approach and analysis with clear scientific perspective. ... The elucidation
of the question of native and acquired languages presented by academician
Kostomarov should become compulsory reading for all Canadian educators,
so that they may develop a better understanding of what makes the other
persons around them different, particularly in a country of immigrants."
From Dr Kostomarov's INTRODUCTION:
"Real life cannot possibly be summed up by hackneyed
abstract slogans about a problem-free 'unified family of peoples', 'brotherly
friendship' and 'co-operation', or by an image of 'frictionless' socialist
competition and mutual assistance. In the overall context of 'international'
relations, language has now become such an emotional issue that failure
to submit both its essence and its consequences to rigorous scientific
examination may mean rash decisions and carelessly passed laws for which
our children will have to pay the price."
From the TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE
"It is important ... to realise that the original version
of this booklet was published in Moscow in early 1991, almost a year before
the official replacement of the 'Soviet Union' (or 'USSR') by the 'Commonwealth
of Independent States'. I have made no attempt to update the author's
references to the 'USSR' etc. in the translation, inasmuch as I feel the
whole content of the book should be viewed in terms of the Soviet Union
as a 'multinational' state in 1991....
"Suffice it to say that the author, in a personal communication,
has expressed his conviction that his thesis and recommendations are applicable
(with certain reservations) to the current linguistic policy of the Russian
Federation, which is a 'multinational state' in itself."
Table of contents
by Bernard Philogène, Vice-Rector Academic,
University of Ottawa
by John Woodsworth
Language is language
The constant cry of one's native
My friend, my enemy -- another
Can a bilingual people be happy?
Ethnocentrism and universalism
in language development
Woe to a langauge, once it is
out of favour!
'Neither publicity-shy nor glory-seeking'
WHAT ONE AMERICAN REVIEWER HAS
about My genius, my language
|"Good translations and bilingual editions (English
and French) of important sociolinguistic treatises are rare because the
art and the science of translation is a demanding enterprise which only
a few truly talented scholars are able to execute successfully. Publication
of this volume demonstrates the excellent translation talents of John Woodsworth
and Marie Lamothe. ...
"The present volume constitutes an important contribution
to our knowledge about a number of matters of immediate interest ... because
this excellent edition makes available the insightful observations of an
important Russian scholar who has ruminated at great length about sociolinguistic
matters of extreme importance in the present Commonwealth of Independent
-- From a review by Dr Frank Nuessel (Univ. of Louisville)
in Language Problems & Language Planning, Vol. 17, No
3 (Fall 1993), pp. 290?292