Russian Language Use in Contemporary Doukhobor Prayer Services in Saskatchewan

By Veronika Makarova.

Published by The International Journal of Communication and Linguistic Studies

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This paper focuses on Saskatchewan Doukhobor Russian and its use in prayer services by Saskatchewan Doukhobors in Canada. The Doukhobors are a religious and ethnic minority currently residing in BC, Saskatchewan, and a few other Canadian provinces. Doukobors originated in Russia as an independent part of the religious dissenters’ movement at the beginning of the 18th century (Bonch-Bruevich 1918; Sulerzhitsky, 1905; Tarasoff 1982). In 1899, about 8000 Doukhobors moved to Canada, where they first settled in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and between 1908-1918, a large group of them moved to British Columbia (Bonch-Bruevich, 1918; Druzhinin, 1930). A relatively small part of the Doukhobors still remaining in Saskatchewan try to maintain their culture and religion. This paper is based on the observations of the life of the Doukhobor community and their prayer services in Saskatchewan, Canada between 2010 and 2012 (over 30 hours). So far, no detailed studies of Doukhobor texts have been made, and little information about the language characteristics is available (e.g., Schaarschmidt, 2012; Golubeva-Monatkina, 2004; Makarova et al, 2011). The only study containing some analysis of a few fragments from the Doukhobor ritual texts is Schaarschmidt, 2008. No studies of the ritual use of Saskatchewan Doukhobor Russian have ever been conducted. This paper describes contemporary Doukhobor prayer services in Saskatchewan and shows that the use of Russian is observed mostly in the singing of hymns and songs.

Keywords: Doukhobor Russian, Saskatchewan, Doukhobors, Ethnicity, Ritual Language

The International Journal of Communication and Linguistic Studies, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp.53-68. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 363.395KB).

Dr Veronika Makarova

Associate Professor, Department of Languages and Linguistics, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada

Veronika Makarova has taught Linguistics, EFL and Russian in universities in Russia, the UK, Japan, and Canada. Her research interests include phonetics, sociolinguistics, language acquisition, religion and culture. She is currently the Head of the Department of Religion and Culture, and the Chair of Interdisciplinary Linguistics Program, University of Saskatchewan.