esmaspäev, september 13, 2010

r-kiosk

R-Kiosk is a Finnish convenience store chain that has expanded south into Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania and beyond. As of my writing this, there are more than 700 of the yellow and blue shops in Suomi and around 200 outlets in Eesti.

There is pretty much something to read for everyone there. Barbie magazine? Got that. Fashion? Take your pick. Home improvement? Get your drill ready, and speaking of which, there is a healthy pornography section too.

But when considering the languages of the magazines in our local shop relative to the demographics of our community, things get more interesting. At the R-Kiosk in town, Estonian publications obviously dominate, and there is a reason for that. Of the 55,657 people who live in Viljandi County, 52,499 (94 percent) consider themselves to be "Estonians." The second largest ethnic group are the Russians (1,901 people), followed by Finns (493 people). A quarter of the reading material in the R-Kiosk in Viljandi, though, is in the Russian language, and, at last glance, the store only contained one measly Finnish-language magazine. To round it out, there was also a sizable selection of German, French, and English magazines the last time I checked.

From a national perspective, this makes sense. A quarter of the Estonian population is Russian, right? But from a local perspective, I was kind of amused by it. Standing there, looking at all the Cyrillic on the wall, you would think that the Viljandi R-Kiosk served a bilingual community. Viljandi, though, is a monolingual place. While my daughter attends school with and is friends with children whose parents speak Russian at home, all of those children are fluent in Estonian. I speak Estonian, the Swedes I know in town speak Estonian; put any foreigner in Viljandi, and he or she will eventually become an Estonian speaker. I should add here that my daughter learns two "foreign" languages at school -- Russian (spoken by the neighbors) and English (of which she is a native speaker). She is in first grade.

I do wonder how magazines and books are ordered for Estonia's R-Kiosks, based on my experience. I wonder how they are ordered for its Apollos and Rahva Raamats and other purveyors of reading materials. Who decides how many Estonian language newspapers will be available in a shop versus Russian language newspapers? Who decides how many Finnish magazines will be on display? On what grounds are some languages included and others excluded? Do the R-Kiosks in Pärnu and Narva carry the exact same titles as the one in Viljandi? I hope not. That would be silly.

32 kommentaari:

Kalle Kniivilä ütles ...

No, it's actually mostly Russian titles in Narva. But they do display the Õhtuleht flyer. Check my photo here:

http://www.ipernity.com/doc/kallekn/2064908/in/album/67325

sofie ütles ...

Well, Estonians do read Russian, Finnish and English magazines and newspapers... some read German or even Swedish. One million cannot create as much content as ... how many millions of Russians are there? If you are interested in knitting, you can find one Estonian knitting-magazine (maybe? I don't know, I am not interested in knitting) and five Russian knitting-magazines and you don't even have to know much Russian to "read" these.
So, these foreign magazines are meant for those 94% of Viljandi's Estonian-speaking population mostly, I presume. Not so much for Russians or Finnish.

Giustino ütles ...

I figured as much. Why else would they stock French fashion magazines? They didn't have Time or Newsweek though :( I need my fix of American "analysis"

Lingüista ütles ...

Yeah, Sofie beat me to it. That's mainly the point: the Russian magazines will reach a wider readership than just the self-identified Estonian Russians, given the number of Russian-reading Estonians (the ERR website tells me Russian is on the rise as a first foreign language in Estonian schools). And the Russian magazines are already there -- they exist already, produced for the Russian-reading public of the big neighbor to the East, so why not use them?

I'd be interested in knowing how Estonian content is created, though. It's not simply that there may be one knitting magazine in Estonian -- it's also: are there sufficiently many Estonians interested in knitting to make an Estonian-language knitting magazine profitable? If not, then those few interested in this topic can buy Russian (or English, or Swedish) knitting magazines...

When I was doing a B.A. in physics in Brazil, after the first two years, nobody bothered actually using books in Portuguese -- everybody had acquired sufficient fluency in English to read Advanced Quantum Mechanics textbooks in this language, and we -- Physics university students -- were the basic public for these books; so who would invest in translating them into Portuguese (or even in creating from scratch comparable textbooks in Portuguese)? It wouldn't make monetary sense. (Ditto for publishing research in any language other than English. Now that I'm a professiona linguist, most of my research is published in English. Barring patriotism, why should I publish in Portuguese? The Brazilian potential public for my research can read English (and many non-Brazilians who would be interested in the research don't read Portuguese), there's pressure to publish as quickly as possible so your research can reach those who are interested... so what's the advantage of translating?

If Russian ever becomes a disfavored language in Estonia, so that, say, nobody (other than a dwindling Russian minority) ever learns it, then these publications will also become fewer and disappear (to be replaced with the next popular language, maybe English or Swedish...). But what are the chances of that ever happening in Estonia?

Malin ütles ...

Hi!
I could not find your email, so I am making a shot here, and tries to contact you. My name is Malin and I am a Swedish girl, that spends one year in Viljandi, as a volunteer through EVS (european voluntary service). I have just started to read "My Estonia" and I really find your way of writing amusing! I also find Epp a very interesting person, and I am really interested in her trips to India, as I am myself adopted from that beautiful country!

Could you send me an email? If you have time,and want to, we could meet over a cup of tea, and I would also like to meet Epp if she wants to!:)

Nägamist!

Giustino ütles ...

Eh, it's not like these are all high quality magazines: a lot of them are just cheap newspapers.

Lingüista, Estonian print content is produced by companies in Estonia: the two largest are Eesti Meedia (which is owned in part by Norway's Schibsted) and Ekspress Grupp. There is also state support for a number of newspapers and other media: for example, Seto and Võro language newspapers and magazines are produced through the South Estonian Culture Program, overseen by the Ministry of Culture.

In Tartu, you can buy the Seto and Võro language newspapers. There is also a bilingual newspaper that covers the coastal villages in Estonian and Russian, called PeipsiRannik. I believe there is also a Mulgi dialect newspaper, also published with help from state support.

Miks ütles ...

Last week I spotted magazine in Latvia dedicated entirely to funerals. Seriously: pros and cons of cremation, best floral tributes, the etiquette of what to wear when seeing the dear departed off on their final journey etc. I would be interested to know if this is also available in Estonia as some kind of morbid franchise.

Meelis ütles ...

#52,499 (94 percent) consider themselves to be "Estonians."#
But why quotation marks are used?

Giustino ütles ...

But why quotation marks are used?

This has to do with the weird double meaning of "Estonian" -- an ethno-linguistic group and a nationality.

Our good friend Flasher (of Jewish extraction with Russian as a native tongue but a "birthright" Estonian citizen) exemplifies this issue. By ethnolinguistic group he is not Estonian, by nationality he is. He's a non-Estonian Estonian.

The neat way to figure this out would be to call "ethnic Estonians" one thing and Estonian citizens another, like Estonians/Estlanders. I know that Flasher has tried to call himself an Estlander in the past, but it only makes sense to nerds like me.

There are also a lot of people of multiple backgrounds. My wife's grandfather is half Estonian, half Russian. He grew up in a bilingual household. I am sure in the censuses he is counted as an Estonian. I wonder how many "Russians" fall into a similar category.

Meelis ütles ...

"This has to do with the weird double meaning of "Estonian" -- an ethno-linguistic group and a nationality."
This in so only in English. In Estonian language word "eestlased" has only ethnic meaning.

Giustino ütles ...

Then what do you call non-ethnic Estonians of Estonian nationality? kodanikud? Do you send a team of eestlased or kodanikud to the Olympics? In English, anyone of Estonian nationality is an Estonian. That's why I used quotation marks. All those 493 Finns in Viljandi county are probably Estonians too. See the dilemma?

Piimapukk ütles ...

Every maestro should take time to meet his young admirerers. No need to bring wife, I guess. But, if she wants ... well.

jalkameister ütles ...

I guess they call them 'eesti venelased' or 'eesti soomlased' (Estonian Russians or Estonian Finns) or whatever, to those with Estonian citizenship but of different ethnic group.
However, I disagree with the statement that a quarter of the population is "Russian". Perhaps a quarter of the population is Russian-speaking, but this is broken down into large chunks of "Estonian Russians", "People without citizenship", and "Russian Russians". Maybe this is just splitting hairs, but I guess it is important to make the difference.

Meelis ütles ...

"Then what do you call non-ethnic Estonians of Estonian nationality?"
Yes, it's possible to call them "Eesti kodanikud" (citizens of Estonia)

Meelis ütles ...

"Then what do you call non-ethnic Estonians of Estonian nationality?"
Ethnic Russians who have Estonian citizenship are Russians.

Meelis ütles ...

In Europe there are two types on nationalities: 1) "Western" or "French". Citizenship is nationality 2) "Eastern" or "German". Nationalities are based on ethnicity, language and culture. Nationality and citizenship can be different. This model is common in East-Central Europe, also in Estonia.

Andres ütles ...

"eestivenelased" is pretty common. In English, the equivalent is "Estonian Russians", I guess. "eestlased" or "Estonians" is pretty uniformly used for people of Estonian nationality.

Giustino ütles ...

However, I disagree with the statement that a quarter of the population is "Russian". Perhaps a quarter of the population is Russian-speaking, but this is broken down into large chunks of "Estonian Russians", "People without citizenship", and "Russian Russians". Maybe this is just splitting hairs, but I guess it is important to make the difference.

A quarter of residents identify themselves as "Russians" according to the Estonian Statistical Office. That's another category unto itself. I was surprised to learn that most of the "Russians" I know in Estonia actually consider themselves to be something else: Jews, Armenians, Ossetians, Ukrainians. It's like they say: a Jew and an Azeri have a baby. What do they call it? A Russian!

In Europe there are two types on nationalities: 1) "Western" or "French". Citizenship is nationality 2) "Eastern" or "German". Nationalities are based on ethnicity, language and culture. Nationality and citizenship can be different. This model is common in East-Central Europe, also in Estonia.

I think the Estonian state is pushing a Western form of nationality, which is why Estonian is the "riigi" (state) language and not the "rahva" (national) language.

There is no mark of ethnicity in documents, only in the censuses (and then there is the little surprise that some "Estonians" speak Russian at home and that some "Russians" speak Estonian at home).

Estonia can be very French when it comes to the nationalities question. Ilves is a quarter Russian. And Sarkozy? I am not even sure what that Frenchman is. He's like a French Hungarian Greek Sephrdic Jew of Spanish extraction. There's your French nationality for you ...

Rainer ütles ...

There is an all-encompassing term "eestimaalased", meaning people living in Estonia regardless of their ethnicity, which is actually quite widely used.

jalkameister ütles ...

I think Justin is right about this. In the end, ethnicity is a self-identified characteristic. One is part of an ethnic group in which you want to be identified. Kristina Smigun is Estonian, not Russian.
And again, I personally think an ethnic group does not constitute a nation. There are several different countries that may be comprised of the same ethnic group, and conversely, several ethnic groups within a country, but all of them are nationals of that country if they are citizens.
In the end, we all foreigners would get classified as venelased. I don't have anything against Russian people, but I think that's not right. Like it or not, Estonia is a (EU) country in 2010, not a group of villages in 18- something. Fortunately, I could pay my taxes this year for the first time in English. Even if Russian is not an official language, there are way more things directed to help people who speak Russian, but not to English speakers. I guess the flip side is that it forces us foreigners to learn Estonian, so I guess I should be happy for it. Ma pean siiski rääkima eesti keeles, ja pole paha, mulle meeldib, aga siin elu on küll mõnes mõttes sujuvam venekeelse elannikonna jaoks kui teise väalismaalaste jaoks (välja arvatud EU kodanikke jaoks). Aga minne sa tea, teises mõttes võib olla inimesed reageerivad teisiti avalikuses elus kui inimene räägib vene keelt.
Coming from a Romance language native speaker background, I guess it would have been nearly as difficult to learn Russian than to learn Estonian. Well, actually no, it would have still been more easy to learn Estonian because the in-laws and wife are Estonian.

jalkameister ütles ...

Rainer and Flasher seem to be right, too. I like the terms. I think I've heard Pres. Ilves waxing lyrical about eestimaalased, so, yes, we can proudly stand up and call ourselves Estlanders (sounds better than Estonianders, or Estonia-dwellers).

jalkameister ütles ...

[By the way, what's the 'official' translation of eestimaalane?]

Meelis ütles ...

"Estonia can be very French when it comes to the nationalities question"
France is not at all good example. In France ethnic minorities are not recognized, minority languages does not have rights etc.

Meelis ütles ...

"There is no mark of ethnicity in documents, only in the censuses"
In Population Register ethnicity is registrated.

Meelis ütles ...

"Kristina Smigun is Estonian, not Russian."
Of course she is Estonian. Her mother in ethnic Estonian. Kristina is native Estonian-speaker etc.

Martasmimi ütles ...

Such an interesting post with so many interesting comments.

As an American and especially a "New Yorker" I find this "grab" for a singular national identity a tad disturbing.

Perhaps national swabbing for DNA might better identify the "true Estonians" over the semi Estonians over the Russians, Swedes, Finns etc.

Where then would my Italian, Irish, German, English, Estonian with a sprinkle of Russian granddaughters
place in this Estonian purity contest?

Don't make me blurt out what this sounds like.......

Kani ütles ...

Coming back to the original idea of your post. I don't think it makes much sense to conclude that Estonian kiosks (especially in places where the Russian-speakers are a clear minority) are loaded with Russian language content because Estonian-speakers read those Russian language newspapers/magazines. An average Estonian-speaker in any given Estonian place does not read magazines/newspapers in any foreign language. Let's be realistic - those who read are rather an exception. It's another thing when we talk about academia/intellectuals. But you made me curious about this issue, perhaps one should ask from the sellers in R-kiosk, how much they sell in Russian (of course, Ida-Virumaa and Tallinn are a different story).

Rainer ütles ...

Maybe there is a certain quota of how many Russian publications there should be in any given R-Kiosk?

sofie ütles ...

to Martasmimi: there is no purity contest here. Estonians define themselver through their language and culture, not genetical heritage. Your granddaugters are pure Estonians for us.
We know that genetically we, Estonians, are a mix. All the Estonians know there is some strange blood in their family tree.

Meelis ütles ...

"genetically we, Estonians, are a mix."
No more, than other nationalities. Look for example this:
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2009/05/genetic-structure-of-eastern-european-populations/

svenskfinland ütles ...

Goodness, I have neglected this blog for too long. I am to understand that you have moved from Tartu to Viljandi. If so, this is a twin town of my hometown (Borgå/Porvoo).

R-Kioski has similar difficulties here in my opinion. A third of the magazines and newspapers ought to be in Swedish in my local R-Kioski, however, they are not. But here the selection varies considerably from R-Kioski to R-Kioski, even within the same town. The logic behind it though is a mystery to me.

Sleeping Beauty ütles ...

Well, at least there is a variety? Right? Now in Beijing, there are China post Kiosk or 2 in every corner. and maybe only magazine or newspaper in ENglish, and even that is "china" approved. I wondered into one "Western" bookstore-- about 40 books in english, shrink wrapped, NO explanation what book is about. Magazine- cover in english - also shrink wrapped- I decided to buy it. SO after I opened it- I was blown away- Rest of the COSMOPOLITAN was in Chinese.. I took it back, and with my Chinese husband help we tried to explain that we thought this magazine was in ENGLISH. we were told to LOOK at little stamp or sticker on left corner that said with Chinese writing- "Chinese Magazine". And we were told, since we bought it it is ours.. No money back... WELL, joke was on us.. Stupid Expats.
And there are about 190 000 expats living in Beijing. That is 1 % of capitals population. I will never complain when I go to Estonia!