One Reason for Intentionally Abstruse Language

The Soviets so discouraged work on small linguistic groups that in the 1960s, the first complete transcription of Svan — work that took at least 10 years to complete — simply went unpublished, said Anna V. Dybo, a Caucasian expert at the Russian Academy of Sciences. This dynamic continued after the breakup of the Soviet Union, and she recalled her horror at hearing Dzhokhar Dudayev, the Chechen leader, cite work from her institute in support of Chechen independence, during the build up to a bloody war with Russia. “At those moments, you feel like the inventor of the atom bomb,” Dr. Dybo said. She was so wary of her work being used politically, she added with some amusement, that she learned to write inn intentionally abstruse language, so that “no one knows what I’m talking about.”

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