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The virtue of imperfection. Gjorgji Pulevski’s Macedonian–Albanian–Turkish dictionary (1875) as a window into historical multilingualism in the Ottoman Balkans


Sonnenhauser, Barbara (2020). The virtue of imperfection. Gjorgji Pulevski’s Macedonian–Albanian–Turkish dictionary (1875) as a window into historical multilingualism in the Ottoman Balkans. Journal of Historical Sociolinguistics, 6(1):1-29.

Abstract

Even though the Balkans constitute one of the most prominent examples of linguistic areas, little is known about the actual processes and mechanisms contributing to the shaping of this area. Most of the assumptions are based on macro-level analyses and describe the linguistic changes observed in terms of generalising tendencies such as increase in analytism or simplification of structures. In order to approach the processes underlying contact-driven change and area formation, however, the focus needs to be shifted to the micro-level, i. e. the individuals and their communicative practices. Among the rare sources allowing to assume this actor-centred perspective is Gjorgji Pulevski’s trilingual dictionary of Macedonian, Albanian and Turkish from 1875, which on the orthographic and morphological level allows for insight into a multilingual speaker’s perceptions the languages s/he is exposed to and makes use of in her/his every day communicative practice. The present paper discusses the structural parallels between Macedonian and Turkish observed in the dictionary. It illustrates in how far these parallels may contribute to our understanding of the specific kind of individual multilingualism that provided the basis for the morphosyntactic developments observed for the Balkan linguistic area, and may also help to shed light on the more general nature of these developments. It is suggested that these processes evince an increase in morphological transparency, i. e. morphem-to-function mapping, as the most salient and probably most effective outcome of largely imperfect multilingualism.

Abstract

Even though the Balkans constitute one of the most prominent examples of linguistic areas, little is known about the actual processes and mechanisms contributing to the shaping of this area. Most of the assumptions are based on macro-level analyses and describe the linguistic changes observed in terms of generalising tendencies such as increase in analytism or simplification of structures. In order to approach the processes underlying contact-driven change and area formation, however, the focus needs to be shifted to the micro-level, i. e. the individuals and their communicative practices. Among the rare sources allowing to assume this actor-centred perspective is Gjorgji Pulevski’s trilingual dictionary of Macedonian, Albanian and Turkish from 1875, which on the orthographic and morphological level allows for insight into a multilingual speaker’s perceptions the languages s/he is exposed to and makes use of in her/his every day communicative practice. The present paper discusses the structural parallels between Macedonian and Turkish observed in the dictionary. It illustrates in how far these parallels may contribute to our understanding of the specific kind of individual multilingualism that provided the basis for the morphosyntactic developments observed for the Balkan linguistic area, and may also help to shed light on the more general nature of these developments. It is suggested that these processes evince an increase in morphological transparency, i. e. morphem-to-function mapping, as the most salient and probably most effective outcome of largely imperfect multilingualism.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Slavonic Studies
06 Faculty of Arts > Zurich Center for Linguistics
08 Research Priority Programs > Language and Space
Dewey Decimal Classification:490 Other languages
410 Linguistics
Uncontrolled Keywords:Balkan area, small-scale multilingualism, language contact, language change, Macedonian, Turkish
Language:English
Date:2020
Deposited On:25 May 2020 08:42
Last Modified:07 Jun 2024 03:40
Publisher:De Gruyter
ISSN:2199-2908
OA Status:Green
Related URLs:https://www.degruyter.com/view/journals/jhsl/jhsl-overview.xml (Publisher)
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID100015_176378
  • : Project Title‘Ill-bred sons’, family and friends: tracing the multiple affiliations of Balkan Slavic
  • Content: Published Version