Political Languages

Both Viktorovich and Natalia touch on the impact of learning English in grade school and, to an extent, elaborate on how they expanded that knowledge as they got older. This language was designated as a critical foreign language in the Soviet Union. How should we interpret this given the geographical distance between the USSR and the next English speaking country? In the United States, the common elementary language is Spanish. Is this because of the strong political and cultural influences coming from the other American countries and Spain? Doubtful.


The interviews from Saratov touch on the global political importance of knowing English during the late Soviet Union. Many resources abroad (radio programs, “European News”) were English influenced. The Soviet understanding of this allowed it to be a competitive power in the technological, cultural, and arms races. ┬áThis allowed many citizens of the USSR to embrace and understand global news and influences. Viktorovich displayed an understanding of the varying cultures he encountered in the army. Could this empathy been nurtured by his exposure to the global community? If so, language was his entrance to the discussion.

The United States’ pre-occupation with Spanish (not a State-recognized critical language) is not geared toward embracing a global political community. In fact, the cutting of Russian research funding seems to insinuate movement in the opposite direction — isolationism. Either that or the United States does not recognize the global influence Russia holds and this unprecedented cut was made out of arrogance, ignorance, or a mix of both.2008-469--America-and-Russia-agree

One thought on “Political Languages

  1. In regard to your first point about the elementary language of the United States and Russia, I would argue that Spanish and English were and are taught in those countries not solely for political influences but rather the commonality of those languages. For example, Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States, so many parents think their children should learn a language they are more likely to use in the United States than another language that isn’t so common, like German. However, I don’t believe that English is necessarily as common in Russia as Spanish is the United States. I agree that the cutting of Russian research funding will lower the number of Russian scholars in the United States and that the cut will be regretted in the future.

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