Historical Sociolinguistics


The research focus “historical sociolinguistics” is dedicated to the study of linguistically and socially relevant aspects of the Greek language in the Byzantine era, with particular reference to the triangular interrelationship between author, addressee and text(form).

Research at the Vienna Division of Byzantine Research focuses on the following aspects:

  1. a diachronic description of language variations, carried out from the perspective of the language society of the time
  2. analysis of the pragmatic (or communicative) function of linguistic phenomena within the framework of the respective language society.

This line of inquiry builds on the long-term work on the Lexikon zur byzantinischen Gräzität LINK by developing new research questions. Studies of the langauge of the historians of the Palaiologan period P23912, the Diegesis of John Kananos and the loan words in late Byzantine historiographic texts have already been completed. Current research deals with the levels and variation of language employed by the late Byzantine scholar Manuel Moschopoulos P-27764. One of the aims of this approach is to recover the “(socio)linguistic competencies of the native speakers”.

A further focus, in conjunction with text editions, is the analysis of documents of the chanceries of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and of the Byzantine emperors in their sociolinguistic and linguistic-speaking environment (research focus of Christian Gastgeber).

Theoretical and methodological issues have been published in the collective volume Towards a Historical Sociolinguistics of Medieval Greek, edited by Andrea Cuomo and Erich Trapp, and presented at the 23rd Congress of Byzantine Studies.

In addition, since 2013, the research group on historical sociolinguistics has promoted the Vienna “Soziolinguistisches Forum”, a platform which endorses interdisciplinary approaches on historical sociolinguistics. A special issue of the journal Open Linguistics, gathering the papers presented at the conference Strategies of Language Variation  (programme | abstracts), is in preparation for the publishing house De Gruyter as special issue of the series open linguistics.

Publications