The 2010 Conference of the International Council for Central and East European Studies (ICCEES) was held in Stockholm last week. More than one thousand participants discussed matters of culture, politics and economy related to countries in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. The Future of Russian project contributed with two panels.

The first panel took place on Thursday, and was chaired by Michael Gorham. I had the pleasure of opening the panel with a paper on the technological challenges of writing Cyrillic letters on computers and digital devices, where I argued that while the challenges persist today, they are being countered by programmers and governments in the East Slavonic language communities. Daniela Hristova presented a paper on the role of Latin letter phrases in Russian on-line commercial ads, where she suggested that the Latin letters gain an iconic significance in these ads. Varvara Christie rounded up the panel with a talk on Russian amateur subtitling on YouTube. She gave a typology of different translation strategies and discussed their significance. Unlike professional translations, which are often colored by the culture of the language they are translated into, amateur translations are more dependent upon the culture of the source language. Dirk Uffelmann had some very insightful comments in his role as a discussant, and the contributions from the audience ensured that the following debate was very lively indeed.

On the following day Michael Gorham opened the second panel, which was chaired by Hristova. He talked about two attempts by Russian authorities to influence language culture through the Internet: The Russian World Foundation (Fond Russkii Mir) and the political campaign to promote Cyrillic URLs. These are examples of a more proactive attitude towards language politics from Russian authorities. Gesine Strenge compared the metalinguistic discourse in off-line media to that in the new, on-line media and concluded that the debate on English loanwords is as active in on-line media, but it is also more personal and subjective. Vera Zvereva’s paper dealt with the language of Russian teenage girls’ blogs on Liveinternet.ru. She demonstrated the great degree of linguistic creativity in these blogs, and showed how these norm deviations relate to texts written in Standard Russian by the same girls.

For some of the participants the ICCEES conference signified the beginning of summer holidays, whereas for us here in Norway it marked the end of the summer and indicated that it is time to return to the office. In a couple of weeks the Norwegian participants of the Future of Russian project will go to Tampere, Finland to take part in the 18th Congress of Scandinavian Slavists.

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