The Discovery of Russia and the Russian Language:
Insights of a Linguist
Maurizio Angeletti
Maurizio Angeletti, independent researcher in semiotics, applied linguistics and the philosophy of language from Italy, calls on his readers to learn Russian and get the truthful picture of Russia in order to stop being manipulable "linguistically blind and deaf people".

In Part II of his article, Mr. Angeletti proceeds from the concept that the Russian language is necessary for comprehending Russia and Russianness – to the nuances of language learning.
The Discovery of Russia and the Russian Language: Insights of a Linguist - PART 1
Part 2

Is there a way to comprehend Russia and Russianness without knowing (or at the very least taking into account) the Russian language? No. And is the "Russian language" one single, homogenized, standardized language? Normally, I would expect a country as large as Russia to have a variety of dialects actively spoken alongside what could be defined as "Standard Russian", with an overall linguistic situation similar to that which, for instance, is found both in the United Kingdom and in Italy (cultures and places of which I have personal experience).

Several Russian people keep repeating to me that the same language (Russian) is spoken uniformly across the Russian Federation, that the same language is spoken and heard in Donbass, in Moscow and in Vladivostok, and that there are no dialects. With some residual reluctance I have no choice but to believe them: they are Russian whereas I am only trying to learn their language, so they obviously must be right.

As I go on researching into Russian linguistic matters, I begin to make some sense of what I am told: there was a reform and standardization of the alphabet in 1918 and language was an issue that the Bolsheviks took seriously and in a very practical way, by creating specific alphabets for local/regional/national languages that did not have an alphabet (and therefore enabling such groups to write their languages.) Combine that with the effort to overcome widespread illiteracy (which was very successful within an incredibly short period of time) and the possibility of a uniformly spoken language acquires more sense.

But I am also told8 that "the Russian language that is today being spoken uniformly across the Russian Federation (and anywhere else in the world by Russians) is the same language used by Pushkin, Tolstoy, Gogol. It formed much earlier than the Bolsheviks' literacy campaign. Bolsheviks merely reformed the spelling (removing the letters "i", "ѳ" and "Ѣ", as well as "ъ" at the end of words). Their great merit was printing millions of copies of books for education and entertainment and building hundreds of thousands of libraries across the country where people could read the books for free. In the beginning, there were "reading huts" (изба-читальня) in villages where people of all ages could come and learn to read or listen to someone reading aloud."

In any event, if we want to learn about Russia and the Russians, we must get to know their language. For, as I have often said to my own students, as a teacher of English or Italian as foreign languages, "English is not explained through Italian" and "Italian is not explained through English." We can say nothing about Russia or any other country and their cultures in our own language – or, we can say nothing in our own language unless we know their language as well, unless we have grasped how complex a languaculture is (I did not say "difficult" but "complex", that is, resisting oversimplifications) and how subtle and at the same time how powerful the medium of language is and the kind of understanding it enables.

Naturally, grammatical study is a necessary evil, but the language does not live in grammar books; it lives amongst the people communicating with one another. We "eat" much more meaning than we eat food – we just are generally unaware of that. Language and culture also affect one another; they are inseparable and should be "studied" as such. Enter the culture to learn its language and learn the language to better understand its culture.

The initial problem with learning Russian, technically speaking, is the Cyrillic alphabet. Suddenly the familiar system that has been in place for a lifetime and that has enabled, for example, speakers of English, French, German, Italian and Spanish to enter their respective languages is not there anymore. Native speakers of Russian whom I know personally, or I am in contact with, assure me that learners learn to use the Cyrillic alphabet very quickly. I doubt it, and with reason. That might be relatively true within the context of simple language lessons for beginners, but I doubt that an understanding, acquisition, and functional handling of the Cyrillic alphabet is anything automatic or fast.

The alphabet and the spellings may be regarded as a "visual difference" between languages, but that word, "visual", would be improper and misleading. In fact, it is a term introduced in recent decades and tightly connected with the use of information technology. The alphabet and orthography are far more than the "visual" aspect of a language. They are not a kind of "visual decoration": they have a tight and complex relationship with all the other aspects of language. Amongst other functions, they can lead the way to an understanding even of spoken language and of its sounds and pronunciation.

This can be easily shown in connection with the Russian alphabet and orthography. Lexical similarity is rated at about 89% between Italian and French and about 82% between Italian and Spanish. This means that even without knowing the respective languages their speakers can recognize or identify many shared or similar words and meanings.

Due to such lexical similarity, a speaker of Italian with absolute lack of knowledge of French (or Spanish) and poorly educated could still identify some words and concepts in a written text. Some help would also be provided by the similarity of the grammars. Conversely, a speaker of Italian with absolute lack of knowledge of Russian and highly educated, if presented with a written text in Russian will not be able to identify a single word and meaning. There is not even an issue here of comparing the two grammars: the Cyrillic alphabet would simply be undecipherable. To such a speaker, Russian would be as difficult (I should say impossible) to decode as Chinese, despite the fact, as any linguist would legitimately say, that the structure of Russian is not so different from European languages as that of Chinese or Arabic is. But the linguist's is a bird's-eye-view, providing analytical comments made by someone who has studied some theoretical and all too often decontextualized facts of language. On the ground, in real life, within the predicament that I have described above, the understanding of Russian is firstly (and hopefully only temporarily) impaired for a non-native learner by its alphabet and orthography.

The words' shape and etymology are also going to be a real problem. Look at the similarity of good (English) and gut (German) or buono (good) and bon (French), and then relate that to the Russian word хороший transliterated as khoroshiy and generally pronounced as carasciò by Italians. To that add an almost assured different perception and conceptualization of time reflected in the verb forms that make up the Russian verb system and the ensuing use of Russian tenses and aspects. And then, of course, comes "pronunciation". This word deserves scare quotes because it is rarely stressed, especially within the foreign-and second-language sphere of teaching and learning, that "good pronunciation" equates with correct meaning.

Author: Gorodenkoff Productions OU
One of the many things which are normally ignored in standard foreign language teaching is that all the physical organs of speech work differently in different languages. One cannot achieve "good pronunciation" if one does not learn and acquire the physical means to produce it.

One will find that the body parts involved are strangely reluctant to be used differently than in one's own mother tongue. At first the learner may have the depressing feeling that all of it is impossible and might also experience that well-known feeling of being ridiculous when trying to produce (wrongly or quaintly) the sounds of another language.

Interestingly, the issue is totally disregarded by language teachers. As for the learners, they are left with a virtually impossible task: apart from a loosely perceived idea that one must learn to "pronounce well" no specific tools are provided, nor is the necessity of acquiring such tools perceived by the learners themselves. Typically, variable levels of proficiency are developed within the easier sphere of written language whilst the spoken counterpart lags behind and more often than not crystallizes in an undeveloped form and the related unskilled performance.

The importance of speaking is chronically neglected in language courses. One of the most memorable statements I have ever heard was produced by a young Japanese woman student of English who was attending a course in an English college in Southern England: "They don't allow us to speak!", she lamented. Surely, a language course should enable one to speak rather than preventing them from doing that.

But I do know what she meant: she was being fed a diet made up of vast amounts of written work which would not advance by one millimetre her proficiency in speaking and communicating in English, combined with a complete neglect of the power and the potentially empowering effect of spoken language, what certain school of Anglo-American linguistic thought often refer to as "first-order language": language that exists in the here and now, a sink-or-swim experience of it in thought and action.

In 1964 Einer Haugen (1906-1994) wrote this:

"Speech is basic in learning language. The spoken language is acquired by nearly all its users before they can possibly read or write. (…) The spoken language is conveyed by mouth and ear and mobilizes the entire personality in immediate interaction with one's environment. Writing is conveyed by hand and eye, mobilizes the personality less completely, and provides for only a delayed response. Oral confrontation is of basic importance in all societies, but in a complex, literate society it is overlaid and supplemented by the role of writing. The permanence and power of writing is such that in some societies the written standard has been influential in shaping new standards of speech. This is not to say that writing has always brought them into being, but rather to say that new norms have arisen that are an amalgamation of speech and writing."9

The words that I have italicized are of particular importance. In the first instance – "the spoken language (…) mobilizes the entire personality in immediate interaction with one's environment" – they seem to accord with or at least echo the positions of contemporary Anglo-Saxon schools of thought such as Roy Harris's Integrationism and the Distributed Language Group. (Here "environment" can and should be construed not only or necessarily as a "place" fixed in space and time but as an extended and extensible field which, inevitably, is linguistic, i. e. it is semantic and semiotic.) The second sentence italicized ("oral confrontation is of basic importance in all societies") could be the starting point for a number of comments on the kind of "written" language that IT has introduced into everyday (linguistic and semiological) living and its tangible effects caused by lack of such oral, confrontation (a Zoom or Skype meeting is still not the same experience as a person-to-person encounter.)

I am absolutely convinced that as L2 (second language) learners progress in the journey to L2 mastery, they will advance and succeed according to how much they have realized that their real object of study is spoken, colloquial, idiomatic language. They should become aware of the fact that they learned their mother tongue (an amazingly complex and varied system) in a peculiar way: language was learned incidentally, as part of living experience and not per se, not as a "system of words".

It is obvious that a person's native tongue is "rooted" in social life, that is, that person's individual experience is linguistically rooted in the communication experienced with others. The second language is rooted in the native tongue, in the sense that the native tongue is far more than its definition suggests. Apart from being one's "native tongue", it is also the general perception and experience of language. Many other "languages" will be learned by that person during their life – it could be the language of music or that of mathematics or of a specific trade – and their study and acquisition will be enabled by that person's mother tongue.
A second language is at least initially learned in a sort of "comparative" way, and it is perceived accordingly as a sort of "translation" of the mother tongue. Whereas the L1 developed as a result of learning language (the machinery) and languaging (its social-semiotic use), each technical aspect of the L2 is learned (at least in most educational institutions and settings) through the parallel aspects of the L1.

The L1 was learned functionally starting first with the dialect of the family and of the surrounding social group and eventually reaching, through education, the standard, formal, written level. Communication was a total and constant exercise – thankfully, there simply were no alternatives.

The learning of the new grammar (the term being understood in the way the early Noam Chomsky did, not just as the "grammar" but also including any other aspect of that linguistic system, that is, its phonetics, phonology, syntax, etc.) is routinely attempted the wrong way around, so to speak, by necessity learning (and teaching) first the standard, neutral, mostly written form of the language and then, all things being well, by "working one's way back" in order to learn the spoken and colloquial form.

Communication through "oral confrontation" (as defined by Haugen) is all too often minimal or non-existent and grammatical knowledge is in many cases also very low and can remain surprisingly undeveloped and fossilize as such in what the late Canadian Professor of Linguistics Hector Hammerly (1935-2006) defined as a "terminal pidgin".

Then there is the commonplace of age: it is a common belief that older people do not learn as fast, as well or at all as younger people do. Actually, an analysis of languages as taught and learned in Italian schools reveals that many young people do not learn other languages easily or at all. An analysis of the world, of the modern world containing us, can reveal unpleasant truths: that young learners learn mobile-phone-speak but are more and more unable to learn and use language.

Languages do not exist as de-contextualized systems nor as fixed codes. Languages have their own "nature": contradicting such nature does not bring understanding but may instead impair it. Words are not free-standing, de-contextualized objects. We teach and learn words as a means to an end. In the classroom, most of real life is denied or simply impractical and therefore we resort to teaching and studying languages "technically". And we discover that free-standing words and grammar do not really "mean" much in themselves, in isolation, but come alive in context and in the action of living. A "table" will be one thing if it refers to an object in the kitchen and another thing if it refers to a diagram on a computer screen.

But the same question, yet again, remains: what to do, then? Is it all so hopeless and helpless? What can one do if the "nature" of learning Russian is denied – physically being in Russia, listening to Russian people in actual, fully contextualized life situations and events, and experiencing life and living experiences in Russia and in Russian?

Hector Hammerly introduced certain definitions as a substitute for the traditional "foreign language" label. He spoke not of English as a "foreign" language but of English as a "local" or "remote" language, the distinction being obviously applicable to any other language.10 So, what can one do if Russian at this time is a "remote language" with all the limitations and predicaments that such a situation brings?

The answer is not easy and there are no quick fixes. Patience and love – the golden recipe. Accept it all and try to work within the current context however dysfunctional or not ideal that might be. Explore areas and contexts that particularly interest you. Study grammar if that is all you can do. Do not be afraid to be a student and a beginner at that. Do not be ashamed about encountering difficulties. Find your own ways to come to terms with the alphabet and its attendant phonetics and phonology.

Naturally, I am talking here about beginning to study Russian: advanced students may be able to learn from a variety of sources (films, songs, etc.) but that also can present a range of specific difficulties. As for beginners, they first need to get to that stage of proficiency.
The table of correspondence of Russian letters with the Latin alphabet
To begin with, in order to become acquainted with the Cyrillic alphabet, one can devise little, temporary strategies such as looking up and looking at any words one is already familiar with in order to convince one's own linguistic machinery that certain letters, within a different ontological and linguistic universe, symbolize different sounds:

Соната (sonata)
Кошка (female cat)
Кофе (coffee)
Пропаганда (propaganda)
Россия (Russia)
Путин (Putin)

Such a strategy, of course, is provisional, just like taking up a stone to knock at a closed door and then throwing the stone away when the door opens because it is no longer needed.

Look at the following phrases:
Доброе утро (good morning) transliterated as dobroye utro
Хороший аппетит (a good appetite) transliterated as khoroshiy appetitis
Приятного аппетита (bon appetit) transliterated as priyatnogo appetita
Спокойной ночи (good night) transliterated as spokoynoy nochi

Ouch! Four awkward looking (for us) different words when we normally use just one, "good". Why don't they (the Russians) use the same word in all such phrases as we Western Europeans (Italians or English, French or Germans) do when we say that something is "good"? There are simple answers: because they are not us and we are not them. Obviously, there must be reasons for the (Russian) language to express differently what appear to be not identical but parallel concepts.
But the point is that one out of four of the Russian sentences above uses what a speaker of other European languages such as French, English, Italian, Spanish recognize as representing the concept of "good". Clearly, there is more to learning such Russian phrases than just memorizing and repeating new words like a parrot. British guitar player Julian Bream aptly remarked, once, that "a musician is not a parrot, and a parrot is not a musician." The same applies to language learners: they will be learning (or they will be made to learn) grammar in order to pass examinations but real life will demand that they learn or better, acquire, meanings. That means not behaving like parrots but like human beings who are at all times pregnant with linguistic possibilities, that is, with 'meaning potential' (the learner) and 'meaning-potential potential' (the context). These are concepts coined by British linguist M. A. K. Halliday (1025-2018) who developed the Systemic Functional Linguistic (SFL) model of language.

Another issue, as the sentences above show, is that coming from certain European languages there is little that can be worked out intuitively at the beginning of the linguistic journey which hopefully will lead to a degree of mastery of the Russian language.

There are also grammatical differences, of course. Here is another sentence: Это кот, "that is the cat." Why do the Russians not use "is" and "the"? (Obviously, a Russian person might ask a specular question: why do you need to use "is" and "the"?) As a rule, the verb "to be" is not used in Russian in the present tense and any learner will have to get adjusted to that.

But here the linguist suggests a mental and ontological experiment. Are "is" and "the" truly not there? Yes, on the surface of language such words are absent. But if we think of meaning, and if instead of thinking and "reading" the visual aspect of meaning in the way our own (Italian or English) languages conceptualize it we "become Russians" for an instant and feel those words as standing for real things and events rather than only reading them as words to memorize and repeat as codes – Это кот, Это собака – is it not true that "is" and "the" are there even though they are invisible and non-existent? You still will have to explain that Это кот means "that is the cat" – and you will put the "is" and the "the" in your explanation because you perceive them to be there – not in their overt grammatical and syntactical form but in their deep structure, in their meaning. (A parallel could be seen in the definition of the "zero article" in English. It does not materially exist, but its definition allows us to describe and perceive its absence.)

By the way, now there is yet another "language" to take into account, transliteration. The Russians obviously must have little or no use for it, but it exists (I assume) mainly as a way for speakers of other languages to bypass the Cyrillic alphabet and, to some extent, come to terms with the sounds and pronunciation of the Russian language. But I have learned that Anatoly Lunacharsky, People Commissar (minister) for education in the USSR from 1917 e il 1929, regarded the Russian alphabet as a "relic of pre-revolutionary Russia" and championed a shift to the Latin alphabet.11 That idea was discarded by Stalin who instead insisted on preserving the Cyrillic alphabet. Stalin's decision certainly supported a truly Russian identity based on tradition; ironically, a shift to the Latin alphabet would have contributed to reducing the "linguistic distance" that I mentioned earlier in this piece and would have made it much more difficult for anyone to spread false and unverifiable propaganda outside Russia.

And there is, incidentally, an alphabet for handwritten language too that has to be reckoned with. In addition, we are dealing with more letters and more sounds than those in use in other languages (for instance in Italian).

And what to do with the problem of "remembering"? You see all such phrases and somehow or other you manage to memorize them and perhaps retain them for an afternoon and yet tomorrow morning they are gone and beyond retrieval. How disheartening. For one thing, go back to them again and again. For another, you are now discovering that languages are not abstract, neutral, de-contextualized, disembodied systems of codes. Languages are not just "words". Languages are two things: places and people, and the events and experiences that these generate. You will "remember" what you are trying to learn if that is part of an experience that is "memorable", that is, meaningful.

Anyway, you have made a start, and you are on your way. Good luck! Удачи – here we go again: where is their word for "good"? And why don't they say it with two words as we do? Answer: because "they" are themselves and not a translated version of "us". Use your intuition, keep your eyes and ears wide open, get out of your mono-languacultural stupor and discover life and the world from another angle.

An ideal situation for taking up RRL (Russian as a Remote Language) combines two factors: 1. finding a teacher, and 2. finding native Russian people to speak with, which ideally includes being involved in activities which relate to Russian culture. This means practicing and learning within two distinct spheres, a second-order one (mostly analytical, with the help of the teacher) and a first-order one (intuitive, sink-or-swim, with native Russian speakers). If such a fortunate constellation is obtained, enjoy the journey, and trust that both "sides" will gradually find a way to settle and coexist within your own semantic fields. Above all, never forget to develop and enjoy your spoken Russian or, at least, do not neglect it – just as you routinely do with your mother tongue.

And hopefully you will not be having to fight with your teacher or with the teaching-learning context surrounding you. Such a predicament is not an exception, and it is often the result of a teaching approach that regards the learner as a machine or as a "mechanism". Give the right instructions, key in the right code, and there you are! The "learner" has "learned," once and for all.

A young, newly qualified teacher of EFL says to a student, "I just told you, why can't you learn it?" One of my high-school mates still mentions an English woman teacher who half a century ago would say to him, as an Italian boy of 6, "grammar is so easy, how can you be so stupid?" Such statements reflect the teacher's total inability to understand the dynamics of second language acquisition, the fact that languages in real life are not learned as "languages" (that is, as lists, taxonomies, nomenclatures and rules) but incidentally, as a by-product of experience and communication, and the very real fact that there is nothing that happens automatically just by presenting a grammatical rule or a lexical item to a student.

Indeed, there are incredible predicaments easily observable in many learners. These are made to study rules, and indeed they correctly memorize the rules about all kinds of points of grammar and may even successfully sit an examination. But ask them to have the simplest conversation in the language studied, and their grammar turns out to be a disaster zone, with no application whatsoever of the selfsame "rules" they had studied. Is that strange? No, it is normal. It is the result of having by-passed experience and only having taught words, symbols that have no referents and cannot be experienced as symbolizing referents following that procedure. If you never experienced the taste of milk, try to do that by looking at the word "milk" on a piece of paper. You will have to wait forever if you expect to ever get to experience the taste of milk in that way.

It is a consolidated tradition within applied linguistics to ignore what second language learners say about their problems and difficulties. I do not own a single book in my linguistic library that discusses that and would not know where to find one. The delivery of foreign and second language tuition generally is a top-down affair. Nevertheless, such problems and difficulties are real and are often perceived by the learners as unconquerable, even within the supposedly easier sphere of the learning of European languages.
Russian State University for the Humanities (RGGU)
Professor Roman Govorukho, director of the Russian-Italian Centre of Russian State University for the Humanities (RGGU) in Moscow, makes some interesting observations.12 He firstly acknowledges that learners do not progress far when they are part of large groups. As regards the differences between the two languages he says this:

"I believe that the differences are to be found in the structure of both languages. I believe that for Italian students the learning of Russian is objectively more difficult. Russian is a more complex language than Italian. Italian presents difficulties as well but these are met at an advanced stage. For Italians the first hurdle is the phonetic study, especially fricatives. Italian students have serious problems with accents in Russian which are simpler in Italian. And there is Russian grammar and verb aspects. Except for rare exceptions I have never met Italians (including teachers who live in Moscow) who do not make mistakes when they use the perfective and imperfective verb forms. Furthermore, there are methodological differences. I have been teaching for 30 years and I observe that our students are used to repeating everything by heart. Our educational system demands memorization. Italians are not used to that, but it would be complex to try to study the Russian language in any other way."

Then Professor Govorukho is asked a crucial question: is it truly important to study with a mother tongue teacher? The answer might be surprising to many but is actually wise and logical:

"My colleagues and I are convinced that a good non-native teacher is better than a mediocre native teacher: A non-native teacher is aware of the difficulties because they also have experienced them and had to battle with them. I have often observed that perfect native teachers are unable to focus their attention. Moreover, at the initial stage it can even be harmful for a beginner to have lessons with a native teacher. On the contrary, at more advanced levels it becomes indispensable to work with a native teacher."

There is a large truth in those words. There is a widespread belief that one must study with a native teacher, and the native teacher obviously remains an indispensable model, but this only applies when a student is able to make use of that model further along in their learning journey. Many people are unaware that there have been veritable schools of thought about this issue. Robert Phillipson, author of a unique book titled Linguistic Imperialism13, has voiced the same opinion about the unique value of non-native teachers. And L. G. Alexander (1932-2002), author in my subjective opinion of the best grammar of the English language14, often championed the non-native teacher for the same reasons.

Talking about problems, issues and difficulties in foreign language learning should not deter anyone from entering and learning the Russian language or any other language. Of course, anything and everything can be learned given the right constellation of factors making up the teaching-learning dimension.

There are as many predicaments as there are language learners. I have personally never met a single Italian learner of English who had truly mastered certain grammatical forms apart from a few memorized patterns. (For instance, someone may have memorized the sentence "I look forward to hearing from you" but will then spontaneously produce other sentences such as "I look forward to see that film.") And I have never met a non-native learner of Italian who had fully grasped the meaning and use of the imperfective forms of verbs or of their aspects, or of the subjunctive as an item for everyday use and not as an "advanced" rule met towards the end of a study book. Who would be responsible for such non-learning? In my opinion neither the students nor their teachers are to blame: it is the system, the "method", that is misconceived or dysfunctional.

There is a whole educational world that unwittingly conspires today against the learning and acquisition of foreign languages through an unshakeable but misbegotten belief in the value of standardization and of the use of information technology in a variety of ways. The effects of "technomorphic thought" as defined by Konrad Lorenz (1903-1985) four decades ago15 are observable in the "technicalization" of the teaching of languages.

Today what is generally taught to language learners is applied linguistics, that is, an analytical description of language, not language. What is often taught is the surface structure of languages (words – in their observable and analyzable visual and acoustic forms, and all the attendant "rules") with variably insufficient attention to the deep structure: the origin of words, meaning, and the communicative function of language, which eventually can lead not to (unstable) learning but to (potentially permanent) acquisition.

As it happens, linguistics cannot be understood without knowing a language first. Grammar or phonetics cannot be properly analyzed without prior knowledge of language. Conversely, native speakers acquire language – and formidably "precise" linguistic skills – within a variety of dimensions (grammatical, syntactical, phonetic, phonological and above all semantic) without formally "studying" any of them. Likewise, learning to swim does not necessitate knowledge and analysis of the chemical structure of water. To explore this issue would require a whole book and possibly more than one. Professor Hammerly was one of the few linguists of the Anglosphere who became acutely aware of this issue and attempted to remedy it with his own work.16

In conclusion, language and culture affect one another; they are inseparable and should be "studied" as such. Enter the culture to learn its language and learn the language to better understand its culture.

In order to do all of the above one will need to have visited the country and its people, to have spent time in it, to have read widely, and to have had meaningful experiences. Of course, exceptionally motivated and stubborn learners might still be able to achieve much understanding even when physically unable to spend long periods of time in Russia.

Inevitably, this will require time, dedication, discipline, continuity – but also an element of play, fun, pleasure, and an appreciation of the language that goes beyond the technical and the grammatical and discovers the language's own aesthetics, not especially through the reading of poetry or novels but through the discovery of the language's unique idiomatic peculiarities (semantic and acoustical) in its original, spoken dimension. And the learners ought to get used to existing in an untidy and ever-developing environment rather than pursuing a frozen ideal of "perfection" (often unwittingly suggested by the structures of written language), remembering that language powerfully comes at us in ways that cannot be controlled or organized and that rarely match the nicely arranged progressions found in language books.

All kinds of doors will be opened on all-important dimensions – historical knowledge, political knowledge, and aesthetical knowledge. If one's approach is honest and one's intentions are noble, one will get to know about the reality of Russia and will have no use for the distorted "picture" that from many corners gets presented and peddled to an audience of linguistically blind and deaf people as "reality".
8. Conversation with the PICREADI team, February 2024
9. Einar Haugen, Dialect, Language, Nation (1964-1966)
10. Hector Hammerly, Fluency and Accuracy – Towards Balance in Language Teaching and Learning (Multilingual Matters Ltd., 1991) see especially Chapter 13 "Some suggestions for English as Remote Language and English as a Local Language", p. 148-157
11. Cinque fatti da conoscere sull'alfabeto cirillico russo, Russia Beyond, 04.12.2023
12. Lingua russa, studiarla è come fare sport: ci vuole disciplina, Russia Beyond, 02.06.2017
13. Robert Phillipson, Linguistic Imperialism (Oxford University Press, 1992)
14. L. A. Alexander, Longman English Grammar (Longman, 1988)
15. Konrad Lorenz, The Waning of Humaneness (Little Brown & Co., 1987), p. 6. A 1974 lecture is also available in German on the Internet: Technomorphes Denken und die Wertempfindung (Technomorphic Thinking and the Perception of Value).
16. There is an interesting and poignant story about the late Canadian linguist Hector Hammerly (1935-2006), Professor of Linguistics at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia (1965-1997), who made outstanding contributions to applied linguistics. Hammerly was a victim of academic mobbing: he was psychologically demolished (and eventually physically destroyed) by violent and abusive actions by some of his Canadian colleagues. Academic mobbing is a despicable phenomenon fully active within Anglo-Saxon societies, and other academics are recorded to have suffered greatly, some even committing suicide. If you have the time you can read about Hammerly and the whole phenomenon of academic mobbing in North America on the following web sites:
Hector Hammerly (