Eesti Elu
Estonian language – first or second class? Estonian Life (5)
Arvamus 19 Nov 2016 EL (Estonian Life)Eesti Elu
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Laas Leivat
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Sirje Kiin, Ph.D. in literature, publicist, journalist, essayist, lecturer, hurtles full steam into the debate about the necessity for the Estonian language to be the lingua franca of scholarly discourse.
Recently Margus Niitsoo, a faculty member of Tartu University has publicly declared : „The faster that Estonian dies as an academic language, the better.” Niitsoo says that defending Estonian as an academic language from vanishing blockades the advancement of scholarship. Niitsoo is known as a productive, young scholar, already the recipient of numerous awards and the youngest Estonian to gain a doctorate.
Niitsoo doesn’t believe in the concept of a nation-state. He claims that Estonian-language education and Estonian scholarly language are not values in and of themselves, that have to be a priori defended. For Niitsoo, humanity as a distinct entity is of importance. Divisions within it and the promotion of one’s own language doesn’t favour a global society undivided. Giving a nation’s language precedence detracts from the ability to communicate to the world about one’s accomplishments because one has to learn everything in two languages, first in Estonian and then in English. Nitsoo insists that the sooner Estonian dies as an academic language, the better.
In addition Niitsoo says that use of Estonian in higher education and academia hinders the use of world class top foreign scholars who are recognized as better academics and also teachers. It’s also an obstacle for those who have achieved advance degrees abroad and who, upon returning must learn the language of academia all over again. (Pikemalt Eesti Elu 18. nov. lehest)
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