Benutzerspezifische Werkzeuge

Panel 3: Non-standard in Slavonic languages


Organizer: Juliane Besters-Dilger (University of Freiburg)

This panel deals with two types of non-standard: regional, e.g. dialect, and social, e.g. argot, slang, “mat”. The main focus is on the question: What is specific for both types of Slavonic non-standard? In which way does it enlarge our picture of non-standard in Europe? The Slavonic languages are the mother tongues of around 300 million Europeans and thus the most widespread language family in Europe. Therefore, the Slavonic languages are important, secondly, they modify our understanding of linguistic variation in Europe.

The Slavonic-speaking countries show an interesting combination of intense language contact (in the sense of contact between standard languages), dialect contact and transitional dialects, sometimes even mixed languages. The main objective of the “regional” part of the panel will be to elucidate the relation between language contact and transitional dialects and the methodological problem how to distinguish between them. The traditional classification of East, West and South Slavonic languages concerns mainly the standard languages. There are, for example, significant transitional dialectal features from Ukrainian and Belarusian commonly ascribed to the East Slavonic language branch, to Polish in the West. At the same time, Polish has influenced Ukrainian and Belarusian standard languages. And thirdly, there are mixed languages which combine features of Ukrainian and Russian, and of Belarusian and Russian.

South Slavonic has been separated from East and West Slavic by non-Slavs for a thousand years. As a result, we lack the gradual dialectal transitions to East and West Slavic, but have a rich and continuous dialectal chain leading from Slovenian in the north-west to Bulgarian in the south-east. At the same time, we have strong contact phenomena, i.e. the well known “Balkansprachbund”. The situation leads to numerous interesting research perspectives.

“The sociolinguistics of the Slavic languages has been under-researched” (Roland Sussex & Paul Cubberley, The Slavic Languages, Cambridge University Press 2006, p. 544). This is partly due to the fact that until 1991 the study of social differentiation of language was not permitted in socialist countries and the use of non-standard varieties was stigmatised. Since then, the use of social non-standard has rapidly developed and shows an extremely rich variety of so-called “substandard”. One of the most interesting features is the existence of “mat” in Russian, obscene lexis, which, in several contexts, has lost its content and has developed into empty lexemes. No other Slavic language shows greater differences between written standard and oral speech than Czech, so that it is customary to speak about a “diglossia”. And the Bulgarian substandard is characterized by a high impact of Turkish words and of diatopic substandard words (Western Bulgarian, Macedonian). The last contribution by Mr. Pachev links the two parts of the panel: regional non-standard serves as social non-standard.