The Place of Macedonian in the Balkan Sprachbund

Macedonian occupies a unique place in the Balkan Sprachbund as the Balkan Slavic language with the most complex, intense and long-standing contact with all three of the other core Balkan linguistic groups, i.e. Albanic, Hellenic, and Balkan Romance, as well as Turkish (and, of course, Romani and Judezmo). Centers of Balkan innovation can also be located in other regions as speakers of languages in all the various groups have been in contact for centuries (and in some cases millennia) in various regions of the Balkans. Nonetheless it was precisely during the Ottoman period that many of the most important Balkan linguistic convergences (so-called Balkanisms) took place, and the center of a significant number of these and other innovations was precisely the territory of today’s southwestern Macedonia, and the adjacent parts of today’s northwestern Greece and southeastern Albania. Recent work in other fields has identified Ottoman Rumeli as a core area of cultural convergence. In this talk, I shall provide a linguistic argument in support of this analysis. In terms of historiography, the linguistic evidence demonstrates that while western and central Europe were regions of homogenization (albeit only superficially), southeastern Europe was a region of convergence without the homogenization that gave rise to the current politics of the nation-state.

Victor  A.  Friedman (Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1975) is Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Chicago and Research Professor at La Trobe University. His main research interests are grammatical categories and sociolinguistic issues related to contact, standardization, ideology, and identity in the languages of the Balkans and the Caucasus where he has conducted field work for more than 40 years.

His publications include the first book on Modern Macedonian published in the United States (2nd , revised edition 2014), Turkish in Macedonia and Beyond (2003), Studies in Albanian and Other Balkan Languages (2004), Očerki lakskogo jazyka [Studies on the Lak language] (2011), and Makedonistički Studii [Macedonian studies] (2 vols., 2011, 2015) as well as more than 300 scholarly articles.