Ask A Linguist For October 1997 - December 1997
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Re: Balkan Sprachbund

On Fri, 24 Oct 1997, Ask A Linguist wrote:

> I am not into linguistics but trying to help a friend.
> She needs some information about Sprachbund(Balkan Sprachbund).
> Short text that would clear her horizonts would be higly
> appriciated.I have been searcing the net but nothing solid poped
> out.All linguists know what Sprachbund is and because of that
> there is no explanation.And explanation is what she needs.
> Thank You wery much in advance.

Hi Ervin -

	A 'Sprachbund' is a group of languages spoken in areas that are
geographically close to each other - the languages may or may not be
related - and contact between the languages results in shared features,
such as absence of infinitive verb forms in the language. The Balkan
Sprachbund includes Bulgarian, Macedonian, SE dialects of Serbo-Croatian,
Albanian, Greek, and Romanian. All these languages are Indo-European and
thus are related, but they belong to four separate branches of IE:  Slavic
(the first three), Albanian, Hellenic, and Romance. Their main shared
characteristics: decay of nominal and pronominal inflections, redundant
('pleonastic') use of pronouns, loss of infinitives and replacement by
personal constructions, and use of postpositive article (the article 'the'
is suffixed onto the end of the noun). 

	Can you get hold of the following book? There is an informative
discussion of Sprachbunds in Chapter 4, which is entitled "Language
Contact and Linguistic Convergence': 

	_Lectures on Language Contact_, by Ilse Lehiste, 1988, Cambridge: 
MIT Press. 117pp, paper. 


					  Karen Steffen Chung		
					  National Taiwan University


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