Russian dialects in East Siberia and Kamchatka


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Linguistic analysis of contact phenomena

The goals of the research are: 

1) Comprising a list of contact-induced changes in the language of a specified community and the fixation of corresponding features in source languages or features that could bring into being non-genetic changes. Here we come to the demonstration of non-genetic origin of a specified feature that is a key problem in language contact studies. 

2) The interpretation of newly incorporated features as elements of a target system; the main task here is to estimate how contact-induced features modified a target system.

3) Tracing the mechanism of incorporating (borrowing or substratum interference) with respect to relevant socio-historical context. 


Major presentations of results

A. Krasovitsky and Ch. Sappok. The Isolated Russian Dialectal System in Contact with Tungus Languages in Siberia and Far East. This lecture was presented at the international conference “Languages in Contact” in 1999 in Groningen (the Netherlands). It was based on the data collected in the expedition to Russkoje Ustje in June 1997. Our recordings indicate heavy structural interference primarily in phonetics (which results both in phonetic inventory and in phonological rules). The focus of the paper was modification which the phonological system in the language of Russkoye Ustye underwent due to durable contacts with the Even language. It involved destruction of original distribution of some consonants and the merging of phonemes within contrastive sets; displacement of old distinctive features; phonemicization of allophones. Fundamental changes which the language of Russkoye Ustye underwent should be interpreted as evidence of strong influence of the neighboring Even population. A printed version of the lecture appeared in: Languages in Contact. Studies in Slavic and General Linguistics, vol. 28. Amsterdam – Atlanta, GA 2000.

A. Krasovitsky and Ch. Sappok. The Isolated Russian Dialectal System in Non-Russian Environment. The lecture read at the 3rd International Congress of Dialectologists and Geolinguists (July 2000) reviewed contact-induced changes in segmental and suprasegmental phonetics in the language of Russkoye Ustye and Pokhodsk (case 2),which we visited a few months earlier.

Ch. Sappok. A. Krasovitsky. Phonetic Processes in the Language of Russian Old Setttlers of the North. (in Russian).The focus of the lecture presented at the international congress “Russian language; history and our time” in Moscow (March 2001) focused on contact-induced change in suprasegmental phonetics. It examined in particular the development of vowel harmony in the languages of old settlers in East Siberia (cases 1 and 2) which was in all likelihood the result of Tungusic influence, namely from the Even language [Li 1996]. Meanwhile this change was partly motivated internally. For example the deterioration of so called okanje in some of the Russian dialects, i. e. the distinction of phonemes /o/ and /a/ in unstressed syllables, results in pronunciation of a non-rounded allophone in accordance with either of the phonemes, but if there is a rounded vowel in a stressed syllable the replacement of the unstressed [o] may develop much slower than before syllables with non-rounded stressed vowels.

A. Krasovitsky. Quantitative and Dynamic Contrast as a Prosodic Means. (in Russian, Materials & Studies in Russian Dialectology. Moscow, 2002). The focus of the paper is a specific mechanism of sentence accentuation which implies strengthening and elongation of consonantal elements within a word while vocalic elements are subject to reduction. This phenomenon noticed in Eastern Siberia was not traced in neither of Russian “mainland” dialects and it is unlikely that it can be internally motivated. Meanwhile I haven’t come across any reference that could prove the existence of this mechanism in some of the neighboring languages. Hence this problem requires further investigation with employment of audio data from indigenous languages of the area.

A.Krasovitsky. Prosody of Statements in the Speech of Old Settlers in the Polar Region (in Russian). The paper was presented at the conference in honor of the 100th anniversary of R.I. Avanesov, February 14-15, 2002, published in the “Book of Abstracts”, Moscow, MAKS-Press 2002. The paper reviews archaic prosodic models in the language of Russkoye Ustye (case 1). It focuses on statements with the rising tone in the end – a phenomenon only occasionally noticed in some of the Russian dialects in the European North. Contrary to the latter the language of Russkoye Ustye preserved various types of rising tones in non-interrogative sentences and their distribution considering semantics of statements. The origin of these prosodic models is not clear but Finno-Ugric substratum may not be excluded taking into account geolinguistic data.

Alexander Krasovitsky and Christian Sappok. Russkoye Ustye. A collection of texts with linguistic commentaries. Book + audio CD. Bochum - Moskva 2004 (Bulletin des Phonetischen Fonds, Supplementband 14,

The book is based on the recordings made in 1997 in the course of the expedition to the settlement of Russkoye Ustye on lower Indigirka (Allaikhovskij ulus, Respublika Sakha). Iincludes 28 texts of the Indigirka variety  with  detailed linguistic commentaries. The texts are also given as audio tracks on the accompanying CD.  Over 200 sound files (recordings of the 1997 and 2003) are associated with the linguistic commentaries. The edition  is supplied by a transparent reference system that allows easy switch between printed and audio data and provides access to the whole archive (for example if a lager context than that given in the book is required).

A.Krasovitsky and Ch. Sappok. Phonological processes in enclaves:the impact of sourse-language constraints. A paper  presented at the 12th Manchester Phonology Meeting in May 20-22, 2004

The focus if the presentation is the rise of vowel harmony in Russian varieties in East Siberia. Two types of vowel harmony have been traced: palatal harmony and labial harmony. Neither of theseharmonic relations has ever been traced in Russian varieties before and in general the feature is quite alien to Slavic phonetics. It is save to say that the rise of harmonic processes was a result of direct  long-term contact with Yukaghir,  Yakut  or – most probably – East dialects of Even that are  the languages of the nearest neighbours of Russians in this part of Siberia.

A. Krasovitsky and Ch. Sappok. Syntactic interference in the language of Russian old settlers in East Siberia. A paper  read at the 2nd International Symposium on the Languages Spoken in Europe and North and Central Asia. Kazan, May 11-14, 2004. 

The following contact-induced changes are investigated: merging of prepositional and non-prepositional objects, the doubling of syntactic components by pronouns and semantically empty  verbs,  changes in the the structure of a predicate,  violation of governing in constructions with negations and with quantitative words (replacement of  oblique cases  by the Nominative case) in accordance with similar structures in source languages.

Alexander Krasovitsky. Means for creating prosodic prominence in the speech of Russian old settlers in Siberia and Kamchatka //  Bulletin des Phonetischen Fonds, No 9, October 2004: Studies in Language Interference (European Russia, Siberia, Far East).

Contact-induced prosodic models  traced in the  speech of  Russian old settlers on Indigirka, Kolyma and in Kamchatka  are being reviewed. Various types of prosodic structures are illustrated by audio files on on the accompanying CD. 






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This page is created by Georgy Krasovitsky. 
Last updated: 07-11-04.