In my research I focused primarily on the
Siberian linguistic area, the natural conglomerate of a variety of
languages and cultures, both genetically affiliated and not.
Many of these languages are extremely
endangered and little documented. They are spoken by small communities
indigenous to this area:
Khanty, Selkup, Ket, Chulym, Tatar, Nenets,
Dolgan, Nganasan, Evenk, Enets, and others. Even within these
small-numbered "language" communities there is a considerable diversity
of linguistic and cultural features, dialectal and social variation. It
represents a continua of dialects, languages, social groups, cultural
practices, degrees of linguistic and cultural assimilation, which all
developed over extended time of co-existence, linguistic and cultural contact, adaptation to
changing geographical and social environments.
these languages currently number around or under 1000 speakers and are
in serious danger of extinction within a single generation. The majority
of these languages are also unwritten. Though for most of these
languages orthographies and writing systems were devised by scholars in
mid XX century, for most of the speakers these are still languages of
traditional oral communication, as they are unaware of the officially
developed orthographies and grammars. Apart from extremely rare
exceptions, these languages are not taught at schools in any way, and
children do not have a chance to learn them outside their families. The
official language in this area is Russian, it is the language of
schooling, higher education and professional training, employment,
social and medical services, etc., as well as it is also the language of
interethnic communication. So all representatives of these indigenous
ethnic communities speak Russian either as the second, or increasingly
nowadays, as the first language. The functional sphere of native
languages shrinks rapidly and thus a need to document and study them is
field work and advocacy I base on the axiom that every language is the
accumulation of invaluable human knowledge, a heritage of a social
group, a species of humans evolved over thousands of years and
reflecting the history of interaction of this group with the environment
and with other groups. Every language represents simultaneously the
diversity and universality of the ways humans make sense of the world,
structure and classify it, survive in the environment, structure, store
and transfer their individual and group knowledge, how they act and do
things in the world and within their social groups. In this sense,
language documentation and language study is documentation and
understanding of human diversity and the nature of humans as social
beings living in their geographical, social, historical environments.
Siberian indigenous languages and cultures demonstrate tremendous
diversity and variation starting from the lowest level of the smallest
communities, clan settlements, villages. This variation becomes
progressively more manifested and multifactorial with the growth of the
size of groupings, both geographical (localities, river communities,
geographical areas, dialects, languages, language families) and social
(generation/age, gender, education, traditionalist vs. modernist life
styles). All of these groups demonstrate both unique features
identifying the group as distinct from others, and universal features
common for many groups, or perhaps, common for all groups, i.e.
universal features. These linguistic and cultural features evolve
through time and under diverse factors: climatic and historical events,
migrations, inventions, contacts between groups. These various issues in
language variation and change exemplified in Siberian linguistic area is
an exciting study topic.
also interested in more linguistically specific studies of the key
functions of language: communicating to others, constructing own
identity and stance in every speech situation at a given time,
negotiating and accommodating linguistic behavior of others, acting and
achieving things with the language(s), structuring the information and
making cohesive successful discourse, shaping 'messages' in a variety of
available forms and modes. In other words, how communicative functions
of the language define and are reflected in the language form, its
phonetics, morphology, lexicon, syntax.
many existing and developing methods of studying the features of natural
human languages, extremely interesting are the modern empirically-based
and effective corpus linguistics methods, as well as the methods adapted
from evolutionary biology that are used for quantitative studies of
languages' socio-cultural and geographical variation and languages'
- huge, rich, diverse and exciting geographical, historical, cultural
and linguistic area of Russia. Russia's own "New World".
Languages and Language Documentation
- from estimated 6500 languages currently spoken worldwide, over 90%
are unwritten, over 60% are poorly documented, over 50% may become
extinct within this century at an average rate of over 30 per year.
Linguistics - Studies of
languages as systems existing in the constant state of change,
emergence and variation, used by real people in ever various instances
of natural communication, formed and governed by the communicative
Variation and Change -
Studies of languages in their essential natural habitats, i.e.
geographically and socially diverse populations (groups) of speakers,
which are interacting with with each other and with other groups
within and across their 'language' communities, and which can be only
observed as current points in historical development.
Linguistics and Quantitative Methods
- Studying and modeling the natural
languages, using ever advancing computer technologies and
mathematical, statistical methods, providing empirically grounded,
time and resource efficient analysis.