The Balkan Linguistic Area example

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The Balkan Linguistic Area

The Balkan Peninsula, located in the Southeast Europe between the Black, Marmara and the Mediterranean Sea, embraces the territory of 13 countries - Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro, as well as the small part of Italy, Slovenia and Turkey (see Figure 1). It is home to a range of languages, the relationship of which presents interest for the areal linguistics, and sociolinguistics. This paper will focus on the linguistic diversity of the Balkan region. The Balkan Linguistic Area is distinguished not on the basis of genetic relationship, but on a number of common structural and typological characteristics, established as a result of long-term mutual influence within a common geographical area.

According to Sarah Grey Thomason, “a linguistic area is a geographical region containing a group of three or more languages that share some structural features as a result of contact rather than as a result of accident or inheritance from a common ancestor” (311). The Balkan Linguistic Area is a term used to refer to a particular type of a language union, combined languages of the Southeast Europe. It includes languages of several genetic communities. In particular, the Indo-European languages: the Slavic group - Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovenian; Albanian (isolate); Greek (isolate); the Romance group – the Eastern Romance subgroup - Romanian, Moldavian, the Western Romance subgroup - the Sephardic language; the German Group - the German language of Northern Transylvania; the Indo-Aryan group - the Romani language. The Finno-Ugric genetic community is presented by the Hungarian language; the Turkic family – by the Turkish and Gagauz languages. The object of the pan-Balkan linguistic research includes the areas of language contact on the borders of the Balkan region.

Languages have a strong impact on each other, especially in areas where the representatives of different language families have been living side by side for centuries. In Europe, this region is primarily the Balkan, where the neighboring languages have been influencing each other for a long time, in a very intense and sophisticated way. Many of the languages heard in this southeast corner of the European continent left their families, to put it that way. According to Pereltsvaig, Albanian, Greek and Armenian are isolates within the Indo-European languages, having no strong connection to any other Indo-European language or to each other (31). Romanian appeared hundreds of kilometers away from Italian, its nearest Roman relative. Thousands of kilometers separate Romani and Hindi from its South Asian relatives, and most of the brothers of Turkish live quite far to the east. The territories of the Balkan Slavic languages (Bulgarian, Macedonian and Serbo-Croatian) are closely adjacent to the Slovenian area, but they are isolated from their main relatives (Russian, Ukrainian and Polish). The Turkish language may be considered as an adstratum (Friedman, 658). Its communication with other languages is limited mainly to borrowing their words or, even more frequently, to the transfer of its own words to them. Other Balkan …

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