restricted access The Status of Discourse Markers as Balkanisms in South Slavic
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Christina Y. Bethin, ed. American Contributions to the 14th International Congress of Slavists, Ohrid, September 2008. Vol. 1: Linguistics. Bloomington, IN: Slavica, 111–29. The Status of Discourse Markers as Balkanisms in South Slavic* Grace E. Fielder The disintegration of Yugoslavia which has resulted in the breakup of the unified standard language formerly known as Serbo-Croatian into three separate languages (referred to variously as standard, official and/or literary languages), Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian, and potentially a fourth, Montenegrin, does not make the work of the South Slavic dialectologist any easier.1 “Doing dialectology” on South Slavic terrain has indeed become even more complicated by the overt intermingling of ethnopolitical (i.e., non-linguistic or extra-linguistic) with linguistic goals, as amply attested by Alexander 2000, 2005 and Greenberg 2004. This paper will not attempt to resolve the tension between these two goals, but rather to sketch out a tentative approach that takes into account both “objective” linguistic and sociolinguistic factors in the discussion of a specific phenomenon: the use of the adversative connective (a)ma ‘but’ on South Slavic territory and the extent to which it represents a Slavic versus Balkan phenomenon. Traditionally, the South Slavic languages have been divided into West South Slavic (Slovenian and the former Serbo-Croatian) and East South Slavic (Macedonian , Bulgarian), that is, into non-Balkan and Balkan South Slavic. It must be noted, however, that in terms of dialect geography this division is not a sharply defined one, but rather is best characterized as “a continuum along which any given dialect is mutually intelligible with continguous dialects” (Friedman 1999: 8). This situation is aptly illustrated by Friedman’s Map 2 (adapted from Ivi! 1958), provided below in Figure 1, which displays the more salient isoglosses of the South Slavic dialect continuum (see also the maps in Alexander 2000). * I want to thank Igor "agar, Aida Premilovac, Danko Shipka, Mirjana Mi#kovi!, and Mirjana Dedai! for their native intuitions, as well as all my colleagues who have provided valuable input, in particular: Ronelle Alexander, Mirjana Dedai!, Victor Friedman, and Brian Joseph. I would also like to thank the students of my graduate seminar on language and identity: Cheryl Traiger, Kenneth Cargil, Xeniia Sales, Elena Shishkin, Eleni Saltourides, and Mary Margaret Popova for their feedback on some of the ideas I explore here. I am, of course, solely responsible for the content and in particular the mistakes. 1 With its vote for independence in June 2006, it is becoming even more probable that Montenegro will declare an official language for its newly independent nation-state. 112 GRACE E. FIELDER MAP 2 A Selection of Salient Phonological and Morphological Isoglosses on South Slavic Territory (after Ivi! 1958: 31, 32) All features are found north or west of the isogloss. The territory outlined is that of former Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, although South Slavic dialects extend beyond these political frontiers. Phonological Features Morphological Features 1. *zg,’ *zd’ > ! (or ") A. Dual preserved 2. *d’ > j (in most instances) B. Use of interrogative kaj 3. *sk,’ *st’ do not merge with #t C. The extension -ov- does not spread to 4. !e > re in present of ‘can’ (more) most masculine monosyllables 5. vocalic quantity is preserved D. The 1 pl. 2pl. pronominal clitics ni, vi (or 6. jers (Common Slavic short high ne, ve) are lacking vowels) fall together E. Synthetic declension 7. *t’ does not merge with *sk,’ *st’ F. Absence of postposed definite article 8. reflex of $ is not broader than e G. 1 pl. pres. -mo (not -me, -m) 9. stress is not fixed H. 1 pl. nom. pronoun mi, mie (not nie, etc.) I. 3 pl. possessive pronoun based on njih- (not t$hn-) Fig. 1. A selection of salient phonological and morphological isoglosses on South Slavic Territory (Friedman 1999: 9, after Ivi! 1958: 31, 32) THE STATUS OF DISCOURSE MARKERS AS BALKANISMS IN SOUTH SLAVIC 113 In her discussion of the problems facing Serbian-Croatian dialectology today, Alexander (2005: 29) points out that this continuum presents terminological difficulties since “the transitions from one dialect to the next are gradual, and there are no clear instances where major dialect boundaries coincide exactly with state boundaries (or, by extension, with the boundaries of the official language associated with that state in question).” This fuzziness of boundaries explains, for example, why Lindstedt (2000: 231) includes the “so-called Torlak dialects of Serbian” in his definition of what constitutes Balkan Slavic. In terms of exhibiting certain Balkan features...


Subject Headings

  • Slavic philology -- Congresses.
  • Slavic literature -- History and criticism -- Congresses.
  • Slavic languages -- Congresses.
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