The fate of Karelian

The major Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat recently featured an article on the state of the Finnic languages in Russia, and the English-language web edition offers a translation:

A battle. That is the word that Zinaida Dubinina is using.

Dubinina is fighting a battle in the bedroom of her home in the village of Kotkatjärvi in Russian Karelia.

At her desk she has committed her most important acts in order to save her native language: translated the entire Kalevala, the national epic of Finland, as well as parts of the Bible into Karelian.

Dubinina’s choice of words is dramatic, but her struggle is a real one. A defeat in the battle would mean a death-blow to the Karelian language and culture.

I do not honestly know what will happen to the Karelian language, she quitely contemplates.

It is not a very in-depth article and says little that many linguaphiles don’t already know, but it’s always good to have more coverage of these peoples in the mainstream press.

4 thoughts on “The fate of Karelian”

  1. Given the similarity between the two languages, I imagine it wouldn’t be very difficult to translate the Kalevala into Karelian.

  2. That’s what I meant. It doesn’t sound like a very challenging thing to do. Although maybe not –translating from one dialect to another is possibly harder than translating between completely different languages. Where there is a lot of shared vocabulary, it might be easier to be subtly influenced by the original wording than to make a complete break and recreate the work afresh in the target dialect.

  3. Oops, I didn’t read this old blog post before responding to your comment. When I say that the translation of the Kalevala has already been done, I am referring to a translation into Karelian I saw for sale in the Akateeminen Kirjakauppa bookshop in Helsinki a few years back. That must have been a translation into a Karelian dialect of Finland, not the separate Karelian language spoken across the border, the topic of this news article.

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