Academic journal article Romani Studies

Variation and Dialect Levelling in the Romani Dialect of TaNdarei

Academic journal article Romani Studies

Variation and Dialect Levelling in the Romani Dialect of TaNdarei

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Both linguistic and ethnographic approaches to Romani studies tend to postulate notions of 'community. In ethnography, a community can be defined variably as sharing location and socioeconomic resources (Stewart 1997), as a tight-knit group that is based around kinship (Jakoubek and Budilová 2006), or as a network of contacts based on kin, intermarriage, and ceremonial routines that can transcend location (Sutherland 1975). Linguistic analyses usually take such definitions of community for granted, adopting the label used by the population concerned, and attributing it to a 'dialect', which denotes a demar-. cated inventory of linguistic structures employed by that population. There is generally anticipation that 'dialects' are passed on from one generation to another and that variation will mirror a very gradual emergence and spread of idiolectal innovations or else influences from the dialects of neighbouring communities. Marushiakova and Popov (2004) introduce a new model of defining 'community' in which emphasis is placed on historical processes of segmentation, through which groups may drift apart through migration and the gradual loss of contact, and consolidation, whereby population groups that come into contact gradually acquire a shared sense of attachment, which becomes visible through a set of indicators pertaining to actual practices. In this paper we argue that language is one of those practices that is re-shaped through the consolidation of new communities. We offer a descriptive sketch of the Romani variety of Ţăndărei in southeastern Romania, placing an emphasis on variation and processes of dialect levelling and showing how the linguistic consolidation of different variants gives rise to a process of koeinization.

Although the term koiné is well established in linguistics to refer to a common dialect, relatively few case studies exist that describe the processes of language change that lead to koineization. Siegel (1985) and Trudgill (1986) discuss koineization as a process of rapid linguistic change that is triggered when speakers of mutually intelligible varieties from different communities move together into a new location as a result of either voluntary or forced migration, and a new generation is born into that new community. Koineization is said to involve three stages (cf. also Kerswill 2002, Solheim 2009): The first is the 'Contact Phase' during which adult migrants retain their dialects. It is characterized by high inter- and some intra-individual variability. Rudimentary levelling may occur, but it tends to target structures that are less frequent. The second stage might be regarded as a 'Chaos Phase', where the first generation of speakers born into the new community lack a model for imitation in the form of a stable adult norm. This phase is characterized by considerable inter- and intra-individual variability, though extensive levelling takes place, with demographic correlates of features beginning to determine the shape of the new variety. Finally, in subsequent generations a so-called 'Focusing Phase' sets in as the new variety crystallizes and alternate realizations of structures are levelled out, with variants that are retained being re-allocated to serve distinct (socio) linguistic functions.

In his analysis of New Zealand English, Trudgill (2004) argues that the shape of new dialects can be predicted, as children born into the new community will adopt the forms that are most frequently used by adult speakers. This is based on the assumption that during colonization the speaker population was not separated by social boundaries and opportunities for social mobility were not linked to the use of structural features (cf. Kerswill 2010). Others, however, have shown that in later periods, social factors, ideologies, and the role of standard languages shape the new varieties. Scholtmeijer (2000), for example, shows how in the Dutch polder of Haarlemmermeer and in the peat colonies in East-Drenthe and Groningen, established in the nineteenth century, koineization resulted in new dialects that resembled those spoken by the first settlers. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.