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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton 2021

“Balanced Language Contact” in Social Context: Velja Gorana in Southern Montenegro

From the book Between Separation and Symbiosis

  • Maria S. Morozova


This chapter1 investigates the case of Velja Gorana, a multilingual village in southern Montenegro, located in the area between the towns of Bar and Ulcinj. This area of Montenegro has a mixed Muslim Slavic, Muslim Albanian, Orthodox Slavic, and Catholic Albanian population. The people in Gorana associate themselves with the Slavic-speaking Muslim community of Mrkovići in the highlands of Bar; but they also speak Albanian because local men marry Albanian women from neighbouring areas. All children in mixed families of Velja Gorana learn two languages from their parents and grandparents: the local variety of Bosnian- Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian (bcms ) and the Northwestern Gheg subdialect of Albanian. The village community can be thought to represent a good example of a “balanced language contact” situation which does not result in a shift towards either Albanian or Slavic. The chapter presents the history and the present-day sociolinguistic situation based on the data from the author’s fieldwork starting from 2012. Particular attention is given to the role population shifts and mixed marriages have in the creation of this community. Subsequent sections describe and analyze the linguistic evidence for phonological, grammatical and lexical interference among bilinguals in Velja Gorana. The author attempts to relate the social and historical processes taking place in this community to particular linguistic outcomes (contact-induced change in both interacting languages), and to explain the greater implications of a “balanced language contact” situation and how individual choices of the speakers in such situations become part of a commonly-shared code.

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