Continuity or Discontinuity – the Case of Macedonian Phonetics  Cover Image

Continuity or Discontinuity – the Case of Macedonian Phonetics
Continuity or Discontinuity – the Case of Macedonian Phonetics

Author(s): Irena Sawicka
Subject(s): Language and Literature Studies
Published by: Instytut Slawistyki Polskiej Akademii Nauk
Keywords: Macedonian language; Macedonian phonetics; Sprachbund

Summary/Abstract: There is no better language level than phonetics to exemplify the problem in question and there is no better language than Macedonian to do this. As far as phonetics is concerned, the Macedonian linguistic area constitutes the Balkan melting pot. Statistics reveal more than 25 nations in the small Republic of Macedonia, which makes it an exceptionally diversified melting pot in every respect. Here we find a concentration of all phonetic balkanisms. More precisely, it is the area where Greek, Albanian and Macedonian meet. This juncture should be treated as the centre of the phonetic Balkan Sprachbund. Phonetics, more than any other level of language organization, reveals the continuity or discontinuity of various processes in the multilinguistic context. This is because phonetic convergence proceeds in a different way than grammatical convergence. In both cases, the form itself is the starting point, but as regards grammatical features, the form is accompanied by function. Thanks to this, the form easily stabilizes. Morphosyntactic convergence occurs when a language uses its own inventory of morphemes, choosing the ones which speakers find equivalent to the forms of the language in contact. They try to use them in the same way as in the other language and in time the function of such forms gramaticalizes and becomes the same or similar in both languages. Consequently, when a language borrows a form, it also borrows or modifies a grammatical category. Phonetic convergence is usually restricted to pure form, without functional interference – functional equivalence is rare at this level. This makes it very difficult to build a holistic description of a Sprachbund.

  • Issue Year: 2012
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 97-113
  • Page Count: 17
  • Language: English