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Language contact, borrowing and code switching

A case study of Australian Greek

Angeliki Alvanoudi


The present study is an in-depth investigation of the Greek language spoken by immigrants in Far North Queensland, Australia. The study focuses on contact-induced changes in the language, such as borrowing of lexemes and discourse patterns, and on code switching. The data analyzed derive from participant observation and some 23 hours of audio and video-recorded conversations with first- and second-generation Greek immigrants that were collected during fieldwork in 2013 in Far North Queensland. The study contributes to the investigation of the structure and use of Greek in the diaspora by integrating perspectives from contact linguistics and interactional approaches to code switching.

Metapragmatic stereotypes about geographical diversity in Greece

Evidence from elementary school pupils’ responses to mass culture texts

Dimitris Papazachariou, Anna Fterniati, Argiris Archakis and Vasia Tsami


Over the past decades, contemporary sociolinguistics has challenged the existence of fixed and rigid linguistic boundaries, thus focusing on how the speakers themselves define language varieties and how specific linguistic choices end up being perceived as language varieties. In this light, the present paper explores the influence of metapragmatic stereotypes on elementary school pupils’ attitudes towards geographical varieties. Specifically, we investigate children’s beliefs as to the acceptability of geographical varieties and their perception of the overt and covert prestige of geographical varieties and dialectal speakers. Furthermore, we explore the relationship between the children’s specific beliefs and factors such as gender, the social stratification of the school location and the pupils’ performance in language subjects. The data of the study was collected via questionnaires with closed questions. The research findings indicate that the children of our sample associate geographical varieties with rural settings and informal communicative contexts. Moreover, children recognize a lack of overt prestige in geographical variation; at the same time, they evaluate positively the social attractiveness and the personal reliability of the geographical varieties and their speakers. Our research showed that pupils’ beliefs are in line with the dominant metapragmatic stereotypes which promote language homogeneity.

Outcome of language contact

Transfer of Egyptian phonological features onto Greek in Graeco-Roman Egypt

Sonja Dahlgren


This summary presents the main findings of my Ph.D. dissertation (University of Helsinki) on the phonological transfer of Egyptian on second language Greek usage in Egypt.

Where does the modality of Ancient Greek modal verbs come from?

The relation between modality and oblique case marking

Serena Danesi, Johnson and Jóhanna Barðdal


Modality can be expressed through a variety of different linguistic means within and across languages, of which one manifestation is through noncanonical case marking of the subject. In Ancient Greek several predicates show a systematic alternation between constructions with nominative and oblique subjects, which coincides with a difference in meaning, yielding a modal meaning in the latter case. We show how this modal meaning cannot be derived from the meaning of the individual parts of the construction, neither from the lexical material nor from the relevant grammatical elements. Instead, the data call for a constructional analysis of a modal subconstruction of the oblique subject construction, for which the modality must be attributed to the construction itself. We argue that this can be viewed through the lens of subjectification in the sense of Traugott (2003), here demonstrating that the semantic relation holding between the subject referent and the oblique case marking selected by the verb has been extended to the empathic relation holding between the speaker and his/her attitude towards the proposition uttered (Barðdal 2004). This, we believe, is how the concept of modality came to be associated with oblique case marking of subjects.

Jordan Kutzik


After arriving in the United States after WWII, Hasidic Jews quickly established educational publishing houses in Yiddish in New York. How these publications developed and changed from the 1950s to the present day reveals a great deal about how Hasidim adjusted to American life, how their Yiddish changed during this period, and how competing linguistic ideologies emerged to address these changes. This article provides an overview of three generations of American Hasidic Yiddish pedagogical materials, using a sample of books, oral-medium games, and a family magazine’s children’s section. It uses close reading and sociolinguistic analysis to examine how the perception of Yiddish among Hasidim evolved into perceiving the language as a semi-holy tongue uniquely capable of transmitting religious and cultural values. This article will explore how this changing perception has caused Hasidic communities to reevaluate how they seek to transmit the language to future generations.

Steffen Krogh


Ever since the founding of the modern Haredi Satmar movement in the late 1940s in New York City, the Yiddish variety spoken by the Satmar Haredim has been subject to considerable influence from coterritorial English. The present article addresses the question of the extent to which core features of Eastern European Yiddish have survived into present-day Haredi Satmar Yiddish in America. Most significant in this study is whether the features in question have been able to maintain their position in Haredi Satmar Yiddish despite their absence in English. The absence of a given feature in English will in all likelihood favor alternative Yiddish constructions that have equivalents in English, and will eventually trigger the elimination of the feature in Haredi Satmar Yiddish.

Benjamin Sadock and Alyssa Masor


Contemporary Hasidic Yiddish speakers perceive a distinction between “Hungarian” and “Polish” Yiddish. This article explores that distinction by examining the Yiddish of the Bobover Hasidic community, the largest “Polish” Hasidic group in the United States; the Yiddish of its “Hungarian” counterpart, Satmar, and its rootedness in the Unterland Hungarian Yiddish was demonstrated by Krogh (2012), reflecting the origins of the Satmar dynasty. But is Bobover Yiddish similarly rooted in western Galician Yiddish? Interviews with informants from the Bobover community reveal a mixed picture. All showed phonological features of non-Hungarian Central Yiddish, but all featured “Hungarian” vocabulary. While most of the informants’ grandparents were from interwar Poland, several had grandparents from the Unterland region; one-third identified their spouses as “Hungarian” or were members of “Hungarian” Hasidic communities. This shows the permeability of the two groups, leading to a mixing of features, which creates the need for shibboleths as clear markers of identity.

Edited by Dalit Assouline

Dalit Assouline


This article discusses why and how English was able to turn into a contemporary Jewish language among Yiddish-speaking American Hasidic Jews, in marked contrast to Israeli Hebrew (IH), which has not been similarly adjusted. One reason is that communal attitudes towards English are not as ideologically charged as compared to the “zealous” opposition to IH. Another reason is that English is able to undergo phonological and lexical modifications that enable Hasidic English to function as an ethnolect used within the community. This process, however, is linguistically more complex for IH, which thus remains an outsider language among Israeli Yiddish-speaking Haredim. The outsider status of IH versus the insider status of Hasidic English is reflected in the code-switching patterns attested among Yiddish public speakers, resulting in a common and effortless pattern of Yiddish-English switching among American speakers, as opposed to rare and marked instances of switches to IH among Israeli speakers.