The first lecturer of the Summer Scientific School “Methodology of Sociolinguistic Research” – Professor Lenore A. Grenoble of the University of Chicago, Director of the International Research Laboratory “The Arctic Linguistic Ecology Lab,” spoke about the tasks of the laboratory and the problems of linguistic ecology. The school took place at North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk.
The professor noted that the laboratory was created with specific goals: “First, to study linguistic and cultural diversity, exchange experiences and develop methodologies and methods of study. Second, to study the linguistic ecology, socio-cultural landscape of the Arctic and Subarctic of Russia. Third, to lay the foundations for the scientific school of linguistic ecology – a comprehensive study of languages, cultures and the social environment”. According to data released in 2009, UNESCO recognizes 2,5 thousand languages out of 6 thousand worldwide endangered. “Also, UNESCO notes that 136 languages in Russia are in danger of disappearing, and 20 of them have already been declared dead. At the same time, the specialists of the Endangered Languages Project estimate 7 thousand languages, about half of which are endangered,” Lenore Grenoble said. The issue of studying multilingualism is also controversial and complex, the laboratory supervisor believes. She noted that linguistics is conventionally divided into two camps – those who believe that a person is bilingual if he speaks two languages equally perfectly, and those who believe that it is enough to speak to languages and be able to communicate in them. The professor added: “Today, the situation of multilingualism in Yakutia is complicated – Russian is prevalent everywhere as a state language, and this must be taken into account. The Sakha language is also prevalent in many places. There are also local indigenous and migrant languages. We have a special task ahead – to study the situation of multilingualism”.