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Latvia votes: Is Russian our language, too?

Latvia votes: Is Russian our language, too? | Porter Geography | Scoop.it

Like a detective at a crime scene, chief language inspector Antons Kursitis scans the lobby of a hotel in downtown Riga. He spots a brochure that lists hotel services in Russian only, a flagrant violation of Latvia's language laws.

 

"Protecting the Latvian language — that is, safeguarding its supremacy over Russian — has been a priority here since the Soviet occupation ended two decades ago. Those efforts face their biggest test yet on Saturday, in a referendum on whether to make Russian the country's second official language."  What historical, political and demographic factors shape this cultural issue of language?  Why is language often seen as so crucial to cultural identity?  

 

The Latvian voters have spoken: in a massive voter turn-out, they struck down the referendum that sought to make Russian an official language.  "Latvia is the only place throughout the world where Latvian is spoken, so we have to protect it," said Martins Dzerve, 37, in Riga, Latvia's capital. "But Russian is everywhere."  For more on the vote, see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17083397    


Via Seth Dixon, Samantha Fraser
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Derek Ethier's comment, October 18, 2012 1:14 AM
It is definitely important for Latvians to hold on tightly to their culture. However, the Soviet Union caused Russian culture and language to spread throughout the USSR and countries are feeling the effects today. There are millions of Russians in former satellite nations who hold on to their Russian culture. At the same time, these nations wish to regain their national pride especially after the fall of the Soviet Union. It is a difficult conundrum, but I do agree with the Latvians' decision.
Shanelle Zaino's curator insight, October 15, 2014 8:37 PM

It was interesting to read that in order to become a Latvian citizen you need to speak Latvian.I can see the point of view from both sides.Russian speaking residents want to be treated equally and Latvian citizens want to keep their cultural identity. However it does seem that there may be some deeper issues of discrimination that a unified language may not eliminate completely.

Jason Schneider's curator insight, March 5, 4:54 PM

About 35 percent of Latvia's population (5,000,000) contains Russian ancestors. Russia does not want to give Latvia credit for practicing Russian languages and the Russian heritage because Russian feels like since they take up about 11% of the world, they don't need to share their heritage with any other country. It's kind of like copyright laws that Russia seems to have.

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Remote Sensing and Land Cover Change

Remote Sensing and Land Cover Change | Porter Geography | Scoop.it

By moving the slider, the user can compare 1990 false-color Landsat views (left) with recent true-color imagery (right). Humans are increasingly transforming Earth’s surface—through direct activities such as farming, mining, and building, and indirectly by altering its climate.


This interactive feature includes 12 places that have experienced significant change since 1990.  This is an user-friendly way to compare remote sensing images over time.  Pictured above is the Aral Sea, which is and under-the-radar environmental catastrophe in Central Asia that has its roots in the Soviet era's (mis)management policies.  

 

Tags: remote sensing, land use, environment, geospatial, environment modify, esri, unit 1 Geoprinciples, zbestofzbest.


Via Seth Dixon
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Shanelle Zaino's curator insight, October 22, 2014 2:24 PM

Looking at the images above it is understandable that the disappearance of the Aral Sea is known as the greatest environmental disaster (that we are not talking about). The amount of change that has taken place in this area is incomprehensible for the amount of time it has taken. Humans so often do not consider their actions on this planet , I believe what has taken place here is an utter shame.

Jake Red Dorman's curator insight, November 13, 2014 2:25 PM

Clearly the water level has decreased in Kazakhstan from 1990 until now. Farming, mining, and building are all indirectly changing the geography of some places. The use of rivers for cotton irrigation has shrunk by 3 quarters in the last 50 years and it is extremely affecting the Aral Sea. 

Edelin Espino's curator insight, December 13, 2014 3:10 PM

Is sad to see how humans are changing the environment forcing the wild creatures to abandon the places they've been living for hundred or years or die of starvation. I wonder what will happen in 300 years when there is no more big lakes and the oceans will be completed polluted .