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Priming Language Political Issues as Issues of State Security: A Corpus-Assisted Discourse Analysis of Language Ideological Debates in Estonian Media Before and After the Ukrainian Crisis

Maarja Siiner and Svetlana L’nyavskiy-Ekelund

Abstract Soon after the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in March 2014, a peak moment in the events commonly referred to as the Ukraine crisis, media in Estonia and abroad started to speculate about whether Russia would stop at Crimea, or if Estonia, with its sizable Russian-speaking minority, would be the next Ukraine. With the aim to investigate the link between a country’s language policy and the geopolitical changes in the region where the country is located, this article analyzes language ideological debates in the popular Estonian online news portal Delfi, which exists in both Russian and Estonian, before and after the tragic events in Ukraine. The aim of our study was to analyze how events in Ukraine influenced the presentation of language political issues in Estonian media. For that purpose, one corpus of articles published in the online news portal Delfi between August 2013 and February 2015 in Russian and the other in Estonian were created. All of the articles contained references to language policy-related issues, such as language status, integration and the fate of Russian schools in Estonia. The method used for the analysis of changes in language ideological debates combined quantitative and qualitative tools from corpus-assisted discourse studies, tools previously declared to be suitable for the analysis of changes in political discourses. The results of the analysis demonstrate that language ideological debates tend to heat up periodically, and usually around the times of elections, but also that language political issues may become salient at moments of foreign and security political crises. During these moments, a nexus is created through discursive means between language planning and security activities, framing or priming the public’s understanding of language policy as completely a question of state security.

M. Siiner (*)

Center for Multilingualism in Society across the Lifespan, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

S. L’nyavskiy-Ekelund

Central and Eastern European Studies, Centre for Languages and Literature, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it © Springer International Publishing AG 2017

M. Siiner et al. (eds.), Language Policy Beyond the State, Language Policy 14, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-52993-6_2

Keywords CADS • Language ideological debates • Online news media • Estonia • Russia • Ukraine crisis

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