Choosing a Mother Tongue The Politics of Language and Identity in Ukraine Author: Corinne A. Seals

Hardback - 224 pages
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11 Oct 2019
Multilingual Matters
Multilingual Matters
234 x 156


This book presents a sociocultural linguistic analysis of discourses of conflict, as well as an examination of how linguistic identity is embodied, negotiated and realized during a time of war. It provides new insights regarding multilingualism among Ukrainians in Ukraine and in the diaspora of New Zealand, the US and Canada, and sheds light on the impact of the Russian-Ukrainian war on language attitudes among Ukrainians around the world. Crucially, it features an analysis of a new movement in Ukraine that developed during the course of the war – ‘changing your mother tongue’, which embodies what it is to renegotiate linguistic identity. It will be of value to researchers, faculty, and students in the areas of linguistics, Slavic studies, history, politics, anthropology, sociology and international affairs, as well as those interested in Ukrainian affairs more generally.


Seals examines language and identity among Ukrainians in Ukraine and in diaspora in great depth, introducing for the first time in sociolinguistics the discourse of ‘changing your mother tongue’ which occurred throughout the narratives of the Ukrainians interviewed by her from 2009 to 2015. The result is a masterful study of language and identity among Ukrainians after the Orange Revolution and during a time of war.

- Andrii Danylenko, Pace University, USA

This is a compelling text set against the backdrop of the 2014-2015 war in Ukraine. Complex questions on language, imagined identities, investment, and nationhood are addressed with great skill and exemplary scholarship. Corinne Seals has made an outstanding contribution to contemporary debates on language and identity.

- Bonny Norton, University of British Columbia, Canada

Corinne Seals deftly combines fine-grained discourse analysis with a transnational perspective, shedding new light on the dynamics of language and identity construction in Ukraine and its diasporas. This is a valuable book for sociolinguists and regional scholars interested in the impact of the ongoing war on national ideologies and linguistic choices.

- Laada Bilaniuk, University of Washington, USA

Author Biography:

Corinne A. Seals is Senior Lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. She is co-editor of Heritage Language Policies Around the World (with S. Shah; 2017, Routledge) and Embracing Multilingualism Across Educational Contexts (with V. I. Olsen-Reeder; 2019, VU University Press). Her research interests include language and identity, language and politics and Ukrainian issues.

Readership Level:

Postgraduate, Research / Professional

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