The culture and history of the Tatar people, whose language belongs to the Turkic language family, are closely connected with world culture and history. Philological exploration of the historically rich Tatar literary tradition is especially relevant at the moment when global geopolitical processes are stimulating increasing interest in national language issues.
The foundations of scientific study of the Tatar language were laid by Kazan University scholars as far back as the 19th century (I.Khalfin, K.M.Fren, F.I.Ardman, A.K.Kazembeck, I.N.Berezin, M.Makhmutov, etc.). In the 1830s and 40s such scientific research gained impetus thanks to the opening of the Kazan University School of Turkic Philology. This scientific school included scholars from the University (Baudouin de Courtenay, V.V.Radlov, N.F.Katanov, etc.), the First Kazan gymnasium, Nepluev Military Academy (Salikhzhan Kuklyashev, Martignan Ivanov), and from some other educational institutions in the Caucasus, Siberia and other regions. Seminary teachers and some missionaries also joined the school with their scientific contributions on Tatar studies. The members of the Kazan School of Turkic Linguistics simultaneously performed a number of roles: they were linguists, historians, folklorists, and researchers of the history of the languages and nations. Therefore, when describing the works of this school, we would have to go beyond the scope of linguistics. After the Department of Oriental Studies at Kazan University was transferred to the University of St.Petersburg, the conceptual frameworks developed by the Kazan School of Turkic Linguistics were further explored by such Tatar linguists as K.Nasiri, A.Maksudi, G.Nugaybeck, G.Ibragimov, J.Validi, G.Alparov, and V.Khangildin, etc.
Currently, Kazan Federal University in collaboration with G.Ibragimov Institute of Language, Literature and Arts and the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan, plays a key role in the development of Tatar linguistics, both in the Republic and in the country. Continuing the traditions of the Kazan School of Turkic Linguistics, scholars from Tatarstan have created scientific schools for studying Tatar grammar, history of Tatar literary language, historical grammar, Tatar dialectology, and Turkic-Tatar onomastics. Great breakthroughs have been made in the sphere of Tatar lexicography. The achievements of Tatar linguists have made major contributions to general Turkology.
The disintegration of the USSR led to the destruction of the single scientific entity for Turkic languages studies; the exchange of scientific information and literature ceased to exist, and almost all scientific contacts were severed. As a result, the structure of the scientific paradigm underwent change and new interdisciplinary research areas emerged. In collaboration with mathematicians and informational technology experts, linguists now work on linguistic models and software tools for the automated processing of the Tatar language while developing methods that enable the language to function within the information-communication environment.
The research scope of Tatar psycholinguistics has also been broadened. Contrastive and cognitive linguistics have offered new approaches to the solution of the “language and thought” problem, which is playing a significant role in modern scientific research. In sociolinguistics, the understanding of the interaction between “language and society” has become more profound; we also see the emergence of cultural linguistics that studies the main features of national mentalities. At present, fundamental research areas in Tatar philology continue to develop as an integral part of the national and linguistic policy of the Russian Federation. The contrastive and comparative study of the various unrelated languages spoken by the inhabitants of Tatarstan, has both theoretical and practical significance. In recent decades, new results have been achieved in the sphere of Tatar language history with the creation of the Great Atlas of Tatar national dialects, while new research into Tatar morphology has been published and work begun into the sphere of Tatar lexicography. A new galaxy of scientists researching topical problems of the Tatar language has appeared.
Meanwhile, with the establishment of the Republic of Tatarstan within the Russian Federation and with the adoption of the Language Act, scholars facing the changing language situation have to address new challenges. Today, one of the most urgent issues for Tatarstan is to clarify the tendency and perspective of the conservation and development of official languages. At the same time, we can observe an increased interest in the issues of national terminology, enrichment of the lexicon, the normalization of the literary language and the correlation between “literary language” and “dialect”, the study of the history of the language and its literary forms. It is still important to study the phonetic system of the Tatar language and its dialects by means of experiment, to pursue the compilation of dictionaries of different types, including electronic dictionaries and the development of a national corpus of the Tatar language. Teaching the Tatar language at schools and universities and the preparation of new native language textbooks also remain relevant. The Tatarica Journal aims to find answers to these and many other questions related to Tatar language studies. The best intellectual resources of the Russian Federation and foreign countries will assist the journal in fulfilling its mission.