Uralic Sociolinguistic Society (U-SOS)

Uralic languages with the exception of Hungarian, Finnish and Estonian are in different stages of endangerment. The Russian Federation is home to 18 minority communities which belong to the Uralic language family. Some Uralic minority groups can also be found in Fenno-Scandinavia and in the Baltic States. Only some of the smaller Uralic peoples live in autonomous republics or districts in Russia. For those that do, the use and cultivation of the native languages and cultures is theoretically guaranteed, since language laws were passed in all of these territories in the mid-1990s. However, it is also important to bear in mind that by today all of the smaller Uralic peoples constitute minority populations even in their own republics and autonomous districts, that is, in the places where they are autochthonous, and this fact does not help them assert their own interests or shape institutionalized language policy. This situation is the result of specific historical development. The chances of survival of the Uralic languages in Russia do not look very promising, and it is not an unlikely prediction that the number of mother tongue speakers will decrease by half by the end of this century. Whereas all these facts are well-known to the experts in the field, and interest in sociolinguistics as a topic of Uralistics has been growing over the last few years, much less has been done to access the full range of sociolinguistic methodologies which have already been implemented in the investigation and description of non-minority Uralic or other languages. With a different wording: it is a fact that sociolinguistic research especially in minor Uralic languages is incomplete. The reasons are manyfold ranging from historical to political and methodological ones.

This being the case the establishment of an organisation at least to assist the flow of information on research and data exchange has been evoked. The participants of the colloquium on “Endangered Uralic Languages” (11th International Conference on Minority Languages , 5-6 July 2007, Pécs, Hungary) aiming to bring together researchers with interests in the sociolinguistic aspects or related fields of the Uralic peoples to set some directions of how sociolinguistic investigation and description of these peoples may be realized, discussed the present state of minor Finnic, Ob-Ugric and Samoyedic speech communities, and initiated the establishment of a Uralic Sociolinguistic Society (U-SOS) proposed by Marianne Bakró-Nagy. The exchange of information, even perhaps coordination of work amongst researchers of Uralic languages is to be expected if the proposal proves to be supported by a wider collective of researchers who, as far as we know, have never been brought togehther in the framework of a single organisation.

The Uralic Sociolinguistic Society should be a professional organization of scholars who are interested in and actively contribute to the multi-disciplinary field of sociolionguitics, and whose members engage in sociolinguistic research on Uralic peoples and languages. Members of U-SOS should promote approaches to language-related isssues, including all the subfields of sociolinguistics as: multilingualism, codeswitching, language endangerment, language acquisition and loss, revitalization, language policy and planning, linguistic documentation, etc. U-SOS should help to apply the scientific results and achievements of sociolinguistics in different areas of social life of Uralic peoples.

Among its primary activities, U-SOS should promote and develop sociolinguistic investigation of Uralic peoples and languages, facilitate distribution and exchange of information on Uralic peoples and languages, cooperate with national and international sociolinguistic organizations and other related academic organizations, help to find supports (grants) for researches, especially for fieldwork, maintain the site of U-SOS, and an email list for member subscribers.

A member of U-SOS can be every researcher or student, who has expressed his/her willingness in writing. The Society should be headed by an Executive council. Its members should be elected by the members of the Society.

As a first step the Finno-Ugric Department of the Research Institute for Linguistics (Hungarian Academy of Sciences) undertakes to set up and maintain the site of the Society. The primary goals of the site should be the followings:

  • databank – a well structured and uptodate collection of data on basic sociolinguistic and social parameters of the Uralic peoples and languages
  • bibliography – an exhaustive bibliography on sociolinguistic description or research of the Uralic peoples
  • collection of links – serving the exhaustive and multifaceted information of the users
  • mailing list – facilitating the exchange of information:
    • If you want to subscribe the e-mail list send an e-mail to the following address: majordomo[at]nytud.hu. The subject line is irrelevant, the first line of the mail should be: subscribe u-sos.
    • If you want to unsubscribe send an e-mail to the following address: majordomo[at]nytud.hu. The subject line is irrelevant, the first line of the mail should be: unsubscribe u-sos.
    • For further informations on technical issues send an email to the following address: majordomo[at]nytud.hu. The subject line is irrelevant, the first line of the mail should be: help.
Any suggestion, remark, proposal, question, information, advise and any feedback is very welcomed and appreciated.

Contact persons:

  • Marianne Bakró-Nagy: bakro[at]nytud.hu
  • Zsuzsa Duray: durayzs[at]gmail.com
  • László Fejes: fejes[at]nytud.hu
  • Zsuzsa Várnai: varnai[at]nytud.hu
With kind regards,

Marianne Bakró-Nagy

To be continued... in September.