Issue 9: Fall 2007

Contemporary issues in Slavic and Eastern European studies

edited by Troy Williams, Duke University
This issue of Glossos marks 5 years since the last survey of salient topics in the field (see Glossos Issue 2: "Contemporary Russian Studies: Culture, Language and Linguistics").
In the intervening half-decade, Slavic and Eastern European studies has continued to grow and also to develop in new directions. Those avenues of inquiry -- cross-cultural pragmatics, linguistics, the future of Slavic pedagogy, and the social impact of language law -- are the material of the present issue.
This issue begins with an examination of cross-cultural pragmatics of anger between Russian and German by Edna Andrews and Tina Krennmayr in their article "Cross-cultural linguistic realizations of conceptualizations of anger: Revisiting cognitive and pragmatic paradigms." This article outlines not only the semantic and syntactic nature of anger between two cultures, but also considers the cognitive aspects of emotion, including the question of linguistic universals for emotions. In the next article, the focus narrows. In his "Russian Dual Stem Aspectual Syncretism and the Opposition of Phase and Determinacy," Ronald F. Feldstein performs a deep analysis of Russian simplex verb stems. He analyzes both the semantic and syntactic features of dual simplex verbs. Of particular interest is the examination of verbs of motion as separate from regular verbs. The results of his study carry significance both in future research on the theory of verbal aspect and in the development of pedagogical materials. The third article considers the state of Slavic language pedagogy. Victor Friedman's "Targeted Testing: Where Grammar Meets Proficiency and Authentic Content" uses the results of several studies of language students to demonstrate a significant deficiency in student facility with the more unusual grammatic, lexical, and communicative features of a language. Friedman shows that it is precisely this deficit which prevents students of LCTLs (less-commonly-taught-languages) and ANTLs (almost-never-taught-languages) from ever achieving native-like proficiency. In his paper, Friedman calls on experts in the field to develop pedagogical materials to correct this deficit. In his paper "Linguistics and the Teaching of the Less-Commonly Taught Languages," Brian Joseph continues the theme of language teaching. Owing to limited institutional resources, LCTL courses are constantly in jeopardy of being eliminated. In order to strengthen enrollments and student motivation, Joseph presents the results of a class he taught on Albanian linguistics. By incorporating units on Albanian history, social setting, dialectology, and blending in some practical skills development he is able to convey to students an idea of what makes Albanian interesting and useful. By thus broadening the scope of a LCTL course, Joseph is able to make the class appealing to a greater population of learners. The final paper in this issue of Glossos comes from Michael Newcity, a lawyer and expert in the laws and judicial system of Russia and the former Soviet republics. In "Languages and the Law in Latvia: national identity versus minority rights" Newcity uses several case-studies of former republics of the Soviet Union to demonstrate the tension between language laws and national efforts to maintain a cultural identity. He also provides a rubric for predicting which nations will find language law more difficult to effect.
Edna Andrews and Tina Krennmayr
Brian Joseph
Michael Newcity