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Slavic languages

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by sokol, Nov 27, 2007.

  1. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Split off from this thread.
    Moderator EHL

    I know, I've only learned Slovene properly, nevertheless I can read (with more or less difficulty, and a dictionary at hand) all other Slavic langauges (well, at least most - I haven't yet tried Sorbic, and I am not yet prepared to learn the Glagolitic script, although Cyrillic don't gives me any trouble).

    Nevertheless, there was change, even in the Slavic world, more so - there were huge changes.
    And secondly, one couldn't measure change on a linear scale; it would not be correct to suppose 'violent history > rapid change vs. gentle history > slow change'; in fact, IF at all it's more the other way round as heavy suppression tightens the social group and gives the language of the suppressed the meaning of a social marker. This certainly did happen for the Slovenes, if not all Slavs ever living under the rule of the Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian and German Empire.

    So, it's not so easy as that. The sociolinguistic approach (which I favour) has something to say about change ... but if I were to elaborate, we should open a new thread for that, as this one's about the 'mother' word.

    Here you've lost me ... wasn't it that you wanted to demonstrate the stability of the Slavic world? In that case, one could (IF anything) suppose that the Slavic world was more conservative before the medieval age.
    For which, by the way, there actually are indicators of great conservativeness - namely, Indoeuropean, as Common Slavic is very close to it, for a language surfacing only in the early middle ages.
  2. Athaulf

    Athaulf Senior Member

    Toronto, Canada
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    Well, we've got one now, so please go ahead... :)

    To clarify the context a bit, in your previous post, you contrasted the prehistoric development of Common Slavic as (supposedly) more conservative than the subsequent development of individual Slavic languages, and used this contrast as an argument in favor of the thesis that in long periods of little socioeconomic change, the language tends to stay conservative. I was trying to show that despite the enormous socioeconomic changes in the last millenium, Slavic languages have remained surprisingly stable and mutually similar, possibly as stable as in the preceding prehistorical period. Of course, to discuss the point meaningfully, first we need to define what exactly we mean by "socioeconomic change", and we also need to agree on the measure of the rate of language change.

    Now, with any meaningful definitions I can think of, I actually find almost everything that you've written about this topic so far disputable, even if only as an advocatus diaboli. :) In particular:

    (1) Have Slavic languages really changed more in the last 1100-1200 years, since Old Church Slavonic appeared in written form, than they had changed in the same length of time before the first OCS written records? With any reasonable definition of "language change", I sincerely doubt it. Would Proto-Slavic spoken around 100-200BC be more understandable to 10th century Slavs than OCS is, on average, to Slavs today?

    (2) Was Common Slavic really so conservative relative to PIE? Sure, it had preserved the noun case and gender system pretty well, but it had also introduced some dazzling innovations, like for example the complete loss of all subjunctives (all replaced by indicative and a simple conditional) and the development of the lexical verbal aspects. (The latter are utterly unlike anything in any other IE languages, and nearly impossible to get right if you're not a native speaker.) Of course, the answer depends on how we choose to quantify the severity of individual changes, but it seems to me like these things should count as very heavy by any reasonable standard.

    (3) In most cases, Slavic languages weren't really hostile to foreign influences until the outbreak of nationalism in the last 100-200 years. Just in the area of former Yugoslavia, you'll find dialects with an enormous number of, for example, Turkish or Italian borrowings even in the most basic vocabulary. Yet, for some reason, in all Slavic areas except the Eastern Balkans, where the case system has been lost, the grammar and most of the vocabulary have remained very conservative and extremely similar even across distances of thousands of kilometers. Purist efforts have certainly enhanced the mutual and backward Slavic intelligibility, but this wouldn't be possible without a well-preserved common core of grammar and vocabulary.

    To sum it up, I'm trying to argue that with any reasonable definition of "socioeconomic change", I don't see how the actual historical data about Slavic languages support the thesis about the connection between the general socioeconomic stability and language stability. I guess I should also add the disclaimer that I am neither a linguist nor a historian, so my impressions could easily be mistaken.
  3. Athaulf

    Athaulf Senior Member

    Toronto, Canada
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    I suppose we can also move this part of the discussion here:

    It's actually the other way around. In most dialects of Croatian and Serbian, aorist still survives with some limited uses in everyday speech, but the imperfect is totally dead except for a few fossilized expressions and highly poetic written language (see here for a more detailed discussion). With Serbian, the situation is a bit more complicated, since the dialects of Southeastern Serbia form a pretty smooth continuum with Macedonian and Bulgarian.

    So we've got the changes in 1200-1500 years since the Late Common Slavic versus the changes in the 3-5 thousand years between Proto-Indo-European and LCS. The difference in the time scale is thus large, but not drastically so. Therefore, the question is: if we somehow quantified the changes between PIE and LCS, and then those between LCS and modern Slavic languages, would the former ones turn out to be 3-5 times as great (as it would be the case if the rate of change has been uniform ever since PIE), or significantly greater or smaller than that?

    You're arguing that the PIE-to-LCS changes were much smaller than LCS-to-modern Slavic relative to the time scales involved. But compare:

    (1) Sound changes: I'd say that PIE-to-LCS ones are immesurably greater. I'm utterly clueless when I see a PIE root without any context, whereas OCS, only a bit younger than LCS, sounds almost like modern Croatian (it's certainly hard to believe that this stuff is as old as Beowulf!).

    (2) Case and gender system: well preserved between PIE and LCS, but also changed relatively little since LCS everywhere except in the Eastern Balkans.

    (3) Verbs: changed a lot since LCS (lots of tenses dropped from practical use, though still mostly understandable), but also changed immensely between PIE and LCS (the loss of subjunctives, optatives, etc., and the development of the infamous Slavic aspect). The latter changes seem to me definitely larger, at least larger in proportion to the time scales.

    And so on. Even if we disagree about quantifying the above listed changes, I still think it's a gross exaggeration to call any aspect of LCS "mainly intact" in comparison with PIE.
  4. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    To give my answer some structure, first the reply to the most salient points in your reply, and then I'll add some theory in a new post:
    First one would have to discuss what kind of change really is 'basic' and what is only 'superficial' meaning only touching the surface.
    Phonetics, in my opinion, is only superficial, whereas phonology clearly is not.
    Morphology and syntax both certainly are not superficial.

    Now, what sets Old Church Slavonic apart from Indoeuropean is, first and foremost, the aspect system - the duality of perfective vs. imperfective verbs (I do not know if thisimperfektiv is the term used in English; in German it would be perfective vs. imperfective, in Slovenian dovršen vs. nedovršen).
    Apart from that, one might even postulate that the grammatical case and tempus system of Old Church Slavonic is nearer to it's Indoeuropean roots than any other, but this of course is not an accepted scientific thesis; Indoeuropean analysis traditionally is based more on the assumption that the classical Latin and Greek and Sanskrit languages were the ones nearest to the Indoeuropean roots. However, it is clear that both Old Slavic (and Baltic!) languages were quite conservative and close to it's hypothetical ancestors.

    However, in modern Slavic languages there is:
    - omission of dual forms (or retaining only of frozen duals e. g. in Czech) and only two languages which still have dual, one of them (Sorbian) already on the brink of extinction, the other (Slovenian) however is a national language and most likely will retain the dual as this form seems to be identified with Slovenian nationality (in my opinion), so this seems to be an ethnical marker already, which works towards preservation
    - huge simplifications of the tempus system and only in Bulgarian and Macedonian (as well as partially in Croatian/Serbian) a more complex system closer to Old Church Slavonic, however contrasted with a loss of inflection on a huge scale in Macedonian and Bulgarian and balkanese suffixes newly developed in these languages
    - not only phonetically, but more important phonologically huge differences have developed between Slavic languages and dialects; Old Church Slavonic was supposedly phologically still unified (or mostly so - we wouldn't know for sure as the tape recorder wasn't yet invented at the time ...)
    I won't add to the list for know; probably on further discussion.

    Point being: yes, Slavic languages are still intelligible to a degree from Slavic speakers who never have learned the other language, and even to foreign learners of a Slavic language, to a degree.
    Nevertheless, I think that there were great changes concerning language structure in the Slavic world. And changes not only on the surface but going deep down to the structure of language

    On the other hand, apart from the aspect system there are only minor differences between Old Church Slavonic and Indoeuropean, although there were phonological differences (although it's very difficult to tell how - if ever! - Indoeuropean was spoken, but that's somethin different altogether ... newer theories assume that there never was a 'really' unified Indoeuropean language, but more likely something like a spectrum of dialects)

    Well, everything's disputable, Athaulf ;-) ... no scientific hard facts as in other disciplines with linguistics, I'm afraid. :)

    We cannot possibly know for sure, but most likely, the answer to this question would be: yes!

    No one would even try to dispute that and I'm still not even near mastering the Slavic aspect system (and probably never will).

    Well, this of course is a point of emphasis and never could be proved one way or the other (purism of course obviously something one would have to substract).

    It is not about a linear relationship 'more change' > 'more unstability', this is not how it works. But I'll add to that later.
    (As for me: I am a sociolinguist, I did study and finish my studies with a degree; however, I am not working as a sociolinguist, it's not easy for us sociolinguists to get jobs on universities here - the discipline is not en vogue at the time, it seems, all structural grammar preferred now -, so it is just my hobby.)

    As for aorist and imperfect, yes I've mixed this up, thanks for clarification!

    And as for detailed comparison of Indoeuropean and Old Church Slavonic: it's absolutely impossible for me to know everything :)D) and I am no specialist for Indoeuropean Studies (although I attended some courses, including Old Armenian and Hittite, for example).
    There are several of examples which show that the phonetic changes weren't that grave, and you have to be careful when reading Indoeuropean roots: this really is an extremely artificial writing system (followers of the 'larynx' theory even write 3 laryngal consonants indicated with numbers ... an old joke under experts refers to the 'pronunciation' of these laryngals, but I cannot remember the punch line any more so I won't try to repeat it).

    I did search for a good example in Köbler's lexicon, but it seems that Slavic is not represented very well there.

    Now give me a break and in a short while I'll give a short introduction into sociolinguistics and the factors of change as seen by sociolinguists.
  5. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    On Sociolinguistics:
    Well, I have to confess, I am at a loss where to beginn. I even contemplated using the village described, over a period of three centuries, by one of my teachers (google for Norman Denison and Sauris or die Zahre), but this would lead us to far apart from the topic of this thread.

    Where to begin?
    Let's try stratification: this means, how do speakers choose the language or dialect they use in a certain situation? Usually you'll find (the bold letters I'll use later as short references):
    - standard language
    - regiolects (regional languages or dialects)
    - dialects (local languages or dialects)
    Usually we would learn at school (in Slovenia this is the case, in Austria not really) to use standard language in formal situations, regiolects in informal ones and dialects only in the family or with close friends. But this is only true for some language communities, and it's most certainly not true for any of the slavic languages, I think. (At least I don't know a single one where this would indeed be the case, to a similar degree like this is the case in France.)

    Even in Russian, the spoken variant seems to be просторечие rather than the written standard language or the 'propagated' more 'stylish' разговорная речь (I've once heard, on a linguist congress, that since Perestrojka просторечие did gain domains in which it was thought of as 'appropriate', but I do not follow the Russian situation closely, so I'm not up to date.)
    As for Slovenian, the standard language is not really a spoken language. Communication happens in regiolects and dialects - the Slovene dialects still are very much alive.
    As for Czech, it's more regiolects playing the major role and there might even come at some time in the future a point where a switch from the present standard language to bohemian regiolect may take place. (Again, here I'm not really up to date; google for Zdeněk Starý, some interesting findings.)
    As for Croatian/Serbian, there certainly are some dialects quite close to the standard language, but they are not the standard language itself. My teacher in Ljubljana was most insistant on that one! And as for the speech of Zagreb, this hardly is standard language even though it's the capital of the country; it's not Kajkavian dialect, either (but let's not start a lengthy discussion on Croatia and it's dialects - I've read a lot about it, but this is a different topic altogether).

    In all of these situations one could speak of diglossia which today often is used in the 'softened' definition of Joshua A. Fishman, whereas I much prefer the one of Charles A. Ferguson. (However, in my Diplomarbeit - it's not a doctoral thesis but one step below that, here in Austria - I proposed a new definition of the term. Didn't have any impact in the scientific world, I have to confess ... google for Typen und Sprachgemeinschaften am Beispiel von Österreich und Slowenien :))

    Point being: why do these diglossic language situations remain stable?
    One would assume that they'd be most unstable, with two or more languages and/or dialects being in constant contact and (often) conflict.
    Reasons for that one:
    - standard language has mythical character, whereas nonstandard variants offer 'social warmth': they're social group markers, they are what the people identify with, they're their everyday means of communication; such cases were Latin in the middle ages or, in modern times, Katharewusa ('national' language: and yes, nations, too, are myths ;-) vs. Dimotiki (people's language) in Greece, or Written Arabic vs. the spoken variants in the different Arab countries, and yes, Slavic standard languages too
    - there's a clear stratification of language use which stabilizes the use of variants (for stratification you could google for Norman Denison and his description of Sauris/Zahre)
    - there's a social identity connection to certain variants which preserve them; an extreme example for that one would be the Romani language being a social marker for a stigmatized people, but in my thesis I did concentrate on this approach and argued that there's much more to that one (I quoted a sociological theory, Social Identity Theory and Self-Categorization Theory, which were developed by the authors Tajfel, Turner, Hinkle & Brown)

    Well, I think I should keep it short. It's impossible to quote my whole thesis here ... :D
    So, the point being: what destabilises diglossia? My findings were, a change of social relations. A change of self-perception.

    One could suppress a people and nevertheless they keep their language to themselves - it's something very precious to them, it is their identity, and the reason why this is so lies in their suppression. Consider the Jews. They didn't stop learning Hebrew, but this was their Holy Language. More interestingly, they stuck to Jiddish even when living under Slavs or, later, being carried off to concentration camps by the Nazis.
    Even in Palaestina there was some discussion if they shouldn't make Jiddish their national language. (Without the Nazis probably Jiddish would have won.)

    But it might happen that a previously suppressed language is reimposed in all their rights. Such a thing happened with Sorbian in (previously) GDR (German Democratic Republic). Sorbian in former times being a Slavic regional language with low social status got all the official founding they wanted, and nevertheless the number of Sorbian speakers quickly grow smaller.

    This is no model for any language - meaning it would be pure nonsense to claim that any support for any minority language would cause this language to wither away. That's nonsense - that's not what I want to say.

    What this is about is: if a diglossic situation (which indeed was the case for Sorbians) becomes unstable then the outcome is unpredictable.

    And about stabiliity as such: in feudalistic cultures there is a tendency to isolate social groups and to prevent mobility. In our modern, industrialised culture the exact opposite is the case: mobility is not only possible but encouraged.
    In isolation, it is easier for languages to maintain their integrity even if in constant language contact.
    Before feudalism, there was tribalism, and tribalism may be different as there are known some cases with ethnically extremely mixed tribes: some where the 'Mongolian' hordes in the early medieval age which consisted of a real patchwork of ethnicities.
    Nevertheless, if tribes remained of one ethnicity, or of two (or more) ethnicities where each ethnicity had it's own role and where they were kept apart in the tribe, then too they usually remaind rather conservative.

    So, anyway: there may be suppression and very little change, but there may too be suppression and lots of change, as well as there may be extremely calm and even wealthy times with huge changes in the language (in fact, the latter is not unlikely at all and happening nowadays everywhere in Europe: parents not speaking their regional languages or dialects with their children any more as they want them to be prepared for a carreer move to the capital of the own country ...).

    And I've only scratched the surface of what I still could say about change in modern society ... but now, finally, I've got a headache; I think that's enough for today.
  6. cirrus

    cirrus Senior Member

    UK English
    More please! I am fascinated and have just lost an hour ruminating on these three related threads It is ages since WR gave me so much to ponder.
  7. Athaulf

    Athaulf Senior Member

    Toronto, Canada
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    But didn't diglossia become the norm for a significant part of the population only in modern times? Until very recently (by historical standards), the overwhelming majority of people were monolingual in a single language with a single register. Thus, while your above post was certainly a very interesting read, I fail to see its relevance for the question of how Slavic languages changed through most of their history. If historical circumstances caused more rapid language change in the post-LCS period, I really don't see how this could have happened through the mechanism you describe.
  8. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)

    On the contrary, we know for sure that, for example, in Mesopotamia at the time of the Accadian Empire, not only the (semitic) Accadian language was written in the Sumerian cuneiform script but Sumerian language (which stands alone as far as we know, it's not related to the Semitic family) still played a role long after it was no spoken language any more - as language for religious, literary and scientific use.
    (Of course, only in the transition period between Sumeric and Accadian empire greater parts of the population most likely would have used both languages in everyday life. As soon as Sumeric became extinct and was used only for cult, science and literature, the use of Sumeric became restricted to educated people.)

    This is one of the oldest documented forms of diglossia. (Of which we have, most of the time, no very good documentation; we can only assume how exactly life and language use at the time was distributed according to the written documents which survived.)

    There most certainly were other cases of diglossia dating back in history - like in India after the Aryan invasion, when languages of the Dravida-branch were spoken under Aryan rule (and still there are many cases of diglossia). And in this case there are very good arguments for both languages being used in a diglossic distribution over extremely long periods. (I won't go into details here - if you're interested, John J Gumperz would be the startin point I'd recommend for the languages of India.)

    Then there were the Jews, of course: their cult language Hebrew was long dead in the times of Jesus, Aramaic was the spoken language, Hebrew the language of cult (both languages being closely related). And in this case, as Jews have to study the Tora in Hebrew, we can savely assume that Hebrew was known (to a certain degree) by a majority of the Jewish population. (And still is ...) Jews in the Diaspora often did use three languages in daily life: in Poland, Polish and Jiddish and Hebrew, and probably German, too, in mixed regions.
    Similar, but more extreme, was the situation of Roma and Sinti. This, too, since the middle ages.

    Similar cases are documented with the cult language of Ethiopia, and then later on in Europe with Latin, although in these cases the transition from diglossic situations to restriction of the cult language to the educated minority probably didn't take more than a few generations or probably a century. (It's difficult to know for sure as we only have written documents of the educated minority ...)

    Many more surely existed, but it's not easy to proof them except if you have written documents.

    No, this is not true either. See above.
    It only was true for a good part of the rural population in ancient times, and not even that in many cases, e. g. in mixed Indo-Aryan/Dravidic regions.

    Well, let's don't talk abstract.

    Take Czech: we know for sure that in the Middle ages, before the Hussitic revolution, great parts of Czechia (Bohemia - Böhmen as it was called at the time) had a mixed Germanic/Slavic population.
    One couldn't possibly understand the Hussitic revolution and, indeed, later on Czech nationalism without regard to the diglossic situation which at that time did lead to Jan Hus and his teachings.

    Of course, Jan Hus was not a 'proper' nationalist. His appearence was very much in tune with the zeitgeist of the time: replace Latin as language of cult and literature with the vernaculars.
    Problem being, there were two spoken vernaculars in Bohemia. Which one to choose? The choice alone already would be a first act of language policy. Only later the Czechs stylized Jan Hus as the first Czech nationalist - which, in a sense, he was, but properly was not.

    I know, you most certainly mean the Slavic language history previously to events like the one of Jan Hus. But we know little of Slavs before the middle ages. They did enter history properly only with Cyril and Methodius.

    Before that, we know for example that (most likely) they did live under the rule of Germanic tribes setting up residence, in the Migration Period: most likely, at least in the east (the Gothic empires in the territories which today we call Romania and Ukraine), the Germanic tribes did not kill or expel them from the occupied territories but let them live and farm the lands for them. It simply would have been impossible for the Goths to occupy such a huge area with their tribe alone.
    As for the subjugated population we can only guess, but most likely slavs, too, were among them.
    And as the slavs seemingly have survived the Migration Period without their languages drifting apart, one could suggest that the German tribes left them alone and didn't even try to assimilate them.
    This is very likely more so as we know that later on, German tribes like Goths and Langobards in Italy didn't want to mix with the local population, nor did they want them to learn their language nor the other way round: they wanted to stay separate of the local population.
    So, tribalism very well might mean diglossia - and, probably, stable ones over a long period of time.

    As for diglossia itself, in my magister thesis I put the question as to what might be the opposite of diglossia, and I came up with a new dichotomy; the following is my personal definition (so, (c) of Hermann Falkner, which is my full name) of diglossia and monoglossia (you may quote me with this definition elsewhere in a scientific way, with my name and reference here to the WR forum, or quoting my original thesis name of: Sprache und Identität. Typen von Sprachgemeinschaften am Beispiel von Österreich und Slowenien, Graz 1998; as for this thesis, I'd like to add, for anyone contemplating reading it - it's not publicized but could be lended from the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek or Grazer Universitätsbibliothek -: it is no nice read, sorry, but a very difficult one, and it contains some faults I am now ashamed of, but the thesis was accepted and I cannot turn back time, so the thesis has to stay like it is; I'd like to further add: to my knowledge, no sociolinguist ever did use my definition anywhere - and, at last, I have to say that I do not recommend reading the original thesis - you might get more if you put your questions here in this forum ...):

    [-> at long last, my definitions - translated from German into English by myself:]
    "Diglossia (triglossia) is a relatively stable language situation where the balance between two (three) language varieties (or group of varieties) is held by means of stability criteria*); in favour of stability work contradictory stability criteria**) which are present with ambivalent and emancipatory diglossia***). None of the focus [language] varieties****) is substantially loosing domains so that their significance as in-group-marker is not in danger to becoming lost to a degree that the focus variety would no longer be salient as an in-group-marker, in the sense as described by the Social Identity Theory*****)." (in my thesis "Sprache und Identität" pp 50-59 & especially 59-62)
    "Monoglossia is a distinctly dynamic language situation where the prestige attached to the focus variety****) is strong enough to guarantee that the focus variety substantially gains domains and drives back other varieties or at least that the focus variety does not loose any domains and is solidly established socially. This focus variety is regarded as 'progressive' and is the only salient in-group-marker in the sense of the Social Identity Theory, meaning that the linguistic identity in monoglossia strictly is orientated on the focus variety." (in my thesis pp 62-64)

    [explanations to follow in second posting!]
  9. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    [-> these exlanations are a summary of my thesis; the termini technici as described below were defined like this in my thesis:]
    *) stability criteria: these are the criteria which guarantee that the social group indeed does focus on two (or more) varieties (see ***): they can be very different ones according to situation, but a typical example would be the Swiss situation: spoken Swiss German is regarded as their national language and the one thing which very obviously sets them apart from Austrian and German, whereas the written German standard language is the language of their literature and heritage and the language of the greater German speaking community, too
    **) contradictory stability criteria: this would be the criteria like described by Charles A. Ferguson, Diglossia (Word 15/2: 325-340, or easier to access in Ferguson (1971): Language Structure and Language Use, p. 71-86); so I have embedded the elements of Ferguson's definition into mine; with Ferguson these criteria are that no segment of a speech community speeks the 'high variety' (Swiss: standard German) but that the 'high variety' stands for fundamental values (national, religious or other); I chose the name for these criteria according to their contradictory value
    ***) ambivalent diglossia = a form of diglossia where the ideal of the speech community, theoretically, is monoglossia, but the reality of everyday life clearly is diglossic; this is, in Fergusons article, the case in the Arabic World and was the case in Greece (there, things seem to have changed considerably): so, ambivalent diglossia would be, in other words, monoglossia that failed to establish itself (or once was established but then lost out to diglossia); this, by the way, is also the diglossic state of affairs in many Slavic languages nowadays, including at least Slovene and Czech
    ***) empancipatory diglossia = a form of diglossia where monoglossia once already was imposed on a speech community or at least that once the members of the speech community themselves or a foreign power tried to impose monoglossia on them but where the 'low variety' did, in time, gain more status than the (former) 'high variety'; this is, in Ferguson's article, Switzerland and Haiti (Ferguson did not use both terms 'ambivalent' and 'emancipatory', but the categories of both of them are implicit in his article, so again I did embed elements of his definition into mine: in a way, I made a 'dissection analysis' of Ferguson's diglossia and defined mine accordingly, but differently); in Czechia, there might be in the foreseeable future a switch from ambivalent to emancipatory diglossia if the bohemian regiolect were to gain enough support to develop a situation similar to Swiss German - abandoning of the Czech standard seems extremely unlikely to me, but a change of attitudes might well happen (but some factors are working against that, e. g. Moravia with it's different regiolectal variant)
    ****) focus (language) varieties = the varieties on which a social group focusses: in diglossia, there always is focus on two or more varieties; in monoglossia, the social group focuses on one variety even though they might speak themselves two or more in everyday life
    *****) SIT = Social Identity Theory of Henri Tajfel; literature: John C Turner & al. (1987/88): Rediscovering the Social Group. A Self-Categorization Theory

    As you can guess by this posting, my thesis relly wouldn't make out as an easy read ... however, with these two definitions of diglossia and monoglossia I am still quite content, although I would alter the wording were I to rewrite my whole thesis.

    So, I do think that my posting has very much to say about the history of slavic languages since they surfaced on the plane of history [but it is not specific for slavic languages, so much is true]. Of the times before that, we cannot be sure.

    [This thread did evolve a little bit, being branched off from another one had it's effect. More it's like a thread about language in society now, with special reference to slavic languages, but I'll let the Moderators decide if a change of name should be made.]
  10. werrr Senior Member

    And during the revolution and after it as well. Sorry, what’s the relation of the national situation to the Hussite movement?
    And to be precise, there wasn’t a mixed population - the Czech population and the German populations (sic) were mostly separated.
    What diglossic situation?

    The Latin-Czech? → What is its relation to Czech-German language relations?
    The Czech-German? → What is its relation to Hussite movement?
    There was no such problem, Hus and Hussites chose both Czech and German.

    The whole Hussite example was not well-chosen. If you want one form Czech history, choose the language disputes prior to the Thirty Years’ War.
  11. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Sorry, werrr, concerning Hus I am only an amateur and you would know much more about that one. Certainly another example would have fit better. However, some remarks from me:
    Yes, don't [sic] me, I do know very well that at the time and especially in mixed regions they did call themselves Germans; they do still in Carinthia (mixed Slovene-German; Carinthias could refer to themselves as "German" which other Austrians would not usually do, nowadays, except if they are Pan-German nationalists).

    As for Czech and German population living seperated: I can believe that if you speak of villages, but Praha at the time surely was mixed, now wasn't it? And anyway, even in rural regions there certainly was some contact between both ethnical groups.
    I could have quoted the Zahre/Sauris community in Friuli (which one of my teachers, Norman Denison, studied closely) just as well, or the Resian valley near Zahre (in order to keep on topic ;-), but whatever ... let's not split hairs over Jan Hus. (And anyway no linguist ever carried out a case study on medieval Bohemia, so to speculate about it would be rather academic.)
    In Zahre/Sauris anyway, the local people was trilingual (this, nowadays, is only the case for few individuals): German dialect of Sauris, Friulian and Italian. And even though they kept to themselves, they used Friulian in informal speech even when every person present spoke the German dialect if (and only if) the situation demanded this.

    I know that both Czech and German Hussites fought the war - it is not common knowledge in Austria (is it in your country?) but I did study history and learned about it.
    I, too, wrote above that the Hussite movement was not a Czech national movement but in a way it was. What I meant with that was, that alone with using the Czech language or (as you corrected me) with using both Czech and German language (this I did not know) the language dichotomy became salient on a greater plane.

    Because beforehand, for the aristocrazy the language spoken in their territory was not an important factor at all, at the time, what was important was that their subjects were loyal.
    For the rural population, on the other hand, language, too, was not too important at the time - either they did live in mixed regions, then most likely they'd at least understand some basics of the language of their neighbours, or they didn't and didn't know nor care about other languages in their surroundings.

    With the hussite movement, this - I think - has changed. But probably I did project this back from the Bohemia of the Thirty Year's War to the Hussite movement, sorry for that one.

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