Wednesday, November 17, 2004

FRATERNAL BROTHERHOOD IN THE HOLY CYRILLIC ALPHABET

The Moscow Times reports that the Constitutional Court in Russia has barred Tatarstan from switching the alphabet used to write Tatar from Cyrillic to Latin. The court indicated that this switch would harm the unity of the nation. I wonder if they realize that Tatar, whether written in Cyrillic, Latin, Chinese, or Cambodian is incomprehensible to people who don't speak Tatar. Kind of like the fact that Spanish is written in the Latin alphabet, but arguably does not promote unity among Americans when so written... silly Russians.

By the way, the article says that Tatar was written using the Arabic until 1927. Then it was switched to Latin (about the same time the Turks were switching Turkish to the Latin alphabet). In 1939 Stalin helpfully mandated that Cyrillic be used. Crazy. An 85 year old Tatar would have started learning to read using Arabic, been switched to Latin, then Cyrillic by the time they were 21.

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