A caveat for contact linguistics: lessons from Cappadocian Greek

Karatsareas, P. 2014. A caveat for contact linguistics: lessons from Cappadocian Greek. 36th Annual Conference of the German Linguistic Society. University of Marburg, Germany Mar 2014

TitleA caveat for contact linguistics: lessons from Cappadocian Greek
AuthorsKaratsareas, P.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

With this paper, I aim to put prominently into the research agenda of contact linguistics the caveat that structural or typological similarity between two languages that have come in contact with one another in their history may not always be the result of that contact. As a case-in-point, I revisit the oft-cited development of ‘agglutinative’ noun inflection in Cappadocian Greek, which is known to have undergone a series of contact-induced changes under the influence of Turkish between the 12th and 20th centuries CE (Dawkins 1916; Janse 2009). The development in question involves the use of two native Greek inflectional endings, -ju and -ja, that are characteristic of the i-neuter inflectional class (IC), which prototypically contains inanimate nouns such as zonar ‘belt’, to realise the GEN.SG/PL and the NOM/ACC.PL of nouns that do not historically belong to the i-neuter IC. As shown in (1), Cappadocian ɣamos ‘wedding’ no longer inflects like its Standard Modern Greek (SModGr) cognate, which belongs to the os-masculine IC, but like zonar ‘belt’, a noun belonging to the i-neuter IC in both Cappadocian and SModGr.

(1)
a. SModGr ‘wedding’
SG NOM/ACC ɣam-os/ɣam-o
GEN ɣam-u

PL NOM/ACC ɣam-i/ɣam-us
GEN

b. Cappadocian ‘wedding’
SG NOM/ACC ɣamos-∅
GEN ɣamos-ju

PL NOM/ACC ɣamos-ja
GEN ɣamos-ju

c. Cappadocian ‘belt’
SG NOM/ACC zonar-∅
GEN zonar-ju

PL NOM/ACC zonar-ja
GEN zonar-ju

d. Turkish ‘wedding’
SG NOM/ACC düğün-∅
GEN düğün-ün

PL NOM/ACC düğün-ler
GEN düğün-ler-in

The innovative inflection of ɣamos in (1b) is overwhelmingly treated in the literature as the outcome of heavy structural borrowing (Janse 2001, 2004; Thomason & Kaufman 1988; Winford 2005). -ju and -ja in (1b) are considered to function in exactly the same way as the Turkish endings -ün and -ler in (1d), i.e, as single exponents for genitive and plural respectively. The use of the unit ɣamos- (= NOM/ACC.PL) as the element to which the two endings attach, similarly to düğün-, is further identified by Ralli (2009) as yet another point of structural convergence.

On the contrary, my morphological analysis shows that, when examined in the context of Cappadocian noun inflection as a whole, noun paradigms such as that of ɣamos in (1b) cannot be shown to be actually agglutinative on a synchronic level in light of the following two facts:

(i) morphemic units such as ɣamos- are best analysed as bound stems; and,
(ii) at least one of the two endings in question, -ja, is a cumulative exponent that, apart from case and number, additionally encodes the grammatical feature of inflectional class.

In addition, the synchronic analysis yields two important findings: first, the case/number combinations making up the Cappadocian nominal paradigm are realised by the same set of endings in the inflection of both ɣamos and zonar; second, the inflected forms of both nouns are structured upon the same type of non-allomorphic stem. This constitutes uncontroversial evidence that ɣamos and zonar belong to the same IC, namely i-neuter. The paradigms of nouns such as ɣamos therefore evidence a series of historical IC shifts to the i-neuter class, not a typological shift from fusion to agglutination. In the latter part of my paper, I will develop a diachronic analysis of these IC shifts based on the prototypical semantic content and the phonological shape of noun ICs in Greek.

Dawkins, R. M. (1916). Modern Greek in Asia Minor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Janse, M. (2001). Morphological borrowing in Asia Minor Greek. In Y. Aggouraki, A. Arvaniti, J. Davy, D. Goutsos, M. Karyolaimou, A. Panagiotou, A. Papapavlou, P. Pavlou and A. Roussou (Eds.), Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Greek Linguistics. Nicosia 17–19 September 1999. Thessaloniki: University Studio Press, 473–479.

Janse, M. (2004). Animacy, definiteness and case in Cappadocian and other Asia Minor Greek dialects. Journal of Historical Linguistics 5, 3–26.

Janse, M. (2009). Greek-Turkish language contact in Asia Minor. Études Helléniques/Hellenic Studies 17, 37–54

Ralli, A. (2009). Morphology meets dialectology: insights from Modern Greek dialects. Morphology 19, 87–105.

Thomason, S. G. & T. Kaufman. (1988). Language Contact, Creolization, and Genetic Linguistics. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Winford, D. (2005) Contact-induced changes: classification and processes. Diachronica 22, 373–427.

Year2014
Conference36th Annual Conference of the German Linguistic Society
Accepted author manuscriptLHC_slides.pdf
LHC_handout.pdf

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