Prof. Dr. Barbara Sonnenhauser, Universität Zürich
Thema: „In the eyes of the beholder. Of seeking and finding linguistic areas”
Wann: Mittwoch, 20.07., 17 Uhr s.t. auf zoom
Meeting-ID: 658 1360 0517
Slavic varieties are assumed to partake in an abundance of lingustic areas, such as a Central-European, Danubian, Circum-Baltic, Carpathian, Alpine etc. sprachbund. However, identifying linguistic areas on a strictly empirical basis is challenging in several respects. And even for the – allegedly – most prototypical cases, such as the Balkans, Campbell's (2007) question on why it is so hard to define a linguistic area is as valid as ever.
In face of the challenges involved in distinguishing linguistic simlarity because of contact, because of shared ancestry or because of more general principles, it becomes obvious that defining areas is a mission impossible. Areas arise in the eyes of the beholder: what an area 'is' depends on the data considered, the assumptions underlying their choice and their status within the descriptive model.
The paper makes us of an algorithm desigend to quantify this kind of information in order to identify potential contact zones. On the example of the Balkans, it will be shown how the results complement previous knowledge and invite for their broader contextualisation. Applying the algorithm to an even larger data base will give a brief illustration of its overall value to identify potential linguistic areas – if combined with proper philological expertise.
Campbell, Lyle (2017). “Why is it so hard to define a linguistic area?” In: The Cambridge handbook of areal linguistics. Ed. by Raymond Hickey. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 19–39
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