Civil Grammar

Article excerpt

Governor takes on illiterate chinovniki

Competence in written Russian is on the decline, which, according to Ulyanovsk region Governor Sergei Morozov, has at times resulted in laws riddled with grammatical errors.

Morozov has a plan: he is proposing that civil servants be required to pass a Russian language test to be hired. He has started the program in his own region and hopes other provinces will follow suit.

Currently serving officials will be asked to take the test, which is presently being devised by the region's Education Ministry. If a bureaucrat fails the exam, he will be required to attend a training program. No one will be fired, the governor promised, yet job applicants who fail the test will not be hired.

The move comes within the context of the federal government's designation of 2007 as Year of the Russian Language, approved by President Vladimir Putin in December.

Putin himself has a good command of Russian, according to Vitaly Kostomarov, President of the Russian Language Institute.

"He has a nice-sounding 'Piter' intonation. His style and manner reveal a large vocabulary, clear thinking and a sense of humor," Kostomarov wrote in a column for RIA Novosti. "Another thing is that the president lets himself use vivid, sometimes even shocking expressions. …