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Separation and Symbiosis between Slavs and Albanians as Continuum of Linguistic Contact Situations: New Challenges for New Data

From the book Between Separation and Symbiosis

  • Andrey N. Sobolev


This chapter1 addresses issues of general relevance for the book as a whole, including linguistic interference, integration and dis-integration in a continuum of linguistic contact situations from separation to symbiosis, and within polylingual and polyethnic societies. The determinant linguistic features of the Balkans are the result of structural language change induced by language contact and directed towards a Sprachbund as a particular, convergent group of languages and an interlinguistic continuum with no impermeable barriers. We need to account for and distinguish prior structural changes that have resulted from contact from those which have resulted from internal development. The chapter addresses extremely rare cases that allow the Balkan linguist to observe immediately at least a phase of the integration process at work among significantly large groups of people in zones of ongoing direct intense and intimate language contact. The paradigm of field research into non-dominant bilingualism in the Balkans is presented. This chapter is based on recent field data from areas of contact with dominant and non-dominant Albanian-Slavic bilingualism in Albania and Montenegro. The data from a Macedonian L1 Muslim community in Golloborda (Eastern Albania) with no official ethnic minority status is presented. The dialect is identified clearly as a Macedonian Debar variety. Phonetics/ phonology, morphology, morphosyntax, syntax and vocabulary of the idiom reveal the whole vitality and local dominance of Slavic L1 under some influence of Albanian L2, which is otherwise dominant in the region and in the country as a whole. Texts in Macedonian L1 are published, showing absence of code switching and language hybridization. Sufficient data from the neighbouring Albanianspeaking community is provided, evincing the absence of any intimate language contacts in the area which could be interpreted as ethnic and linguistic separation. No strong correlations between the qualities of bilingualism, code switching strategies, bilateral linguistic accommodation, past language change situation and social praxis can be identified. Two phonologies and two grammars coexist in bilingual individuals, whereas parts of the lexicon tend to form a joint stock of highly semantically specialized lexical items. There is a gap between the language of our bilingual informants and their speech behaviour. In speech behaviour involving actual interference, the ‘alien’ L2 substance can be used both with ‘alien’ L2 or ‘one’s own’ (L1) rules with very different degrees of integration into ‘one’s own’ L1. The data from the Slavic-Albanian symbiotic polylingual community in the Mrkovići area in Montenegro is used to provide a base comparison, with bilingualism of a non-dominant type with functional balance between L1 and L2 in language practice and competency. It is claimed that, at the present state of research, there is no possibility of finding out any strong correlation between the types of language change and the types of language contact situations, including the possibility of balanced bilingualism without dominance. Some outlines for future research are provided.

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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