The Belarussians in Latvia - Contemporary Sociolinguistic situation as exemplified by the Kraslava Region
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The purpose of the article is to present the results of the research carried out locally in 2004 and 2005 and covering the Belarussian inhabitants of three Latvian counties at the border with Belarus (Kaplawa, Indra and Piedruja) as well as the town of Kraslaw. The inquiries were performed with the biographic method that bases on the casual, informal conversations which are only slightly controlled by the researcher and referred to the sociolinguistic situation and to the national identity of the Belarussian minority. The research revealed existence of a considerable difference in the national identity of the Belarussians who lived in the area, the result being influenced by the place of the interviewer's birth and his or her earlier residence (Eastern Belarus, Western Belarus and Latvian Belarussians). The sociolinguistic situation was in turn studied with the method of domain, and pointed to the fact that different languages function in various domains of life: within the sphere of a family and the neighbourhood (Belarussian dialect and the Russian language), at work (Russian, Latvian), religion (Polish, Russian and Latvian/Latgalian), at school (Latvian and Russian) and other formal situations (Russian and Latvian). The research showed that the Belarus dialect and the Polish language in its variant from the North part of 'Kresy' (which is known to some of the population there) give way to two other languages, namely Russian (the sphere of family and neighbourhood, formal situations, religion) and Latvian (formal situations, school, partially religion). .
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