The present book offers a morphological description of an endangered variety of Greek, namely Pontic Greek (also called Romeika) spoken by the Pontic community of Georgia. This variety of Pontic displays the general features of Pontic Greek, i.e., it preserves several archaic (Hellenistic or Medieval) elements, shows a breakdown of the grammatical-gender distinction, inflectionally active animacy hierarchy etc. Furthermore, the examined variety shows some innovations: it differs from the Pontic Greek varieties spoken in Turkey or in Greece, in terms of contact-induced changes. The influence of the contact languages, having either concatenative (Turkish, Georgian) or non-concatenative morphology (Russian, Standard Greek) always induced several processes of language change through the transfer of single words or constructions. So, the understudied variety has undergone changes not only on the lexical, but also on the structural level.
The present book is part of the outcome of the project The impact of current transformational processes on language and ethnic identity: Urum and Pontic Greeks in Georgia (2013-2017; principal investigators: Stavros Skopeteas, Bielefeld University, and Konstanze Jungbluth, Europa-University Viadrina, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation).
The book contains an introductory part with a historical overview of the Pontic Greek settlements in Georgia, and chapters on Pontic Greek phonology, nominal morphology, verbal morphology as well as a chapter summarizing the main properties of Romeika, including contact-induced changes caused by contacts with languages of concatenative and non-concatenative type. The research is based on original data obtained with fieldwork in the Pontic-speaking community of Georgia (either collected in Georgia or in Greece). Samples of the data collection are added as appendix to the book and include narratives on cultural events, ancestor stories and language, while the whole corpus is available on-line at the TLA archive: https://tla.mpi.nl/resources/data-archive/.
Pontic Greek has always been an important issue in Greek dialectology and in recent years has attracted significant attention, especially through research projects that documented and studied several varieties of Pontic Greek. The available publications and resources about this dialect relate to the varieties spoken in Turkey or by Pontic Greek speakers in Greece. The Pontic variety spoken by Pontic community of Georgia – Romeika, which is/was used within a different language situation and is/was in contact with other languages, has been less systematically investigated. The present book is a first attempt to describe the grammatical structure of this variety.
The main contribution of this book can be summarized as follows: (a) it is original work in an endangered variety of Greek that is under-documented and under-studied; (b) it is the first attempt to describe the grammatical structure of Romeika based on corpus data; (c) the contact-induced changes in Romeika are analysed in detail, from lexical towards structural borrowing; (d) direct Pontic Greek features, like the role of the animacy hierarchy, case-syncretism and neutralization of gender are analysed; as they trigger different processes in Romeika due to the contact with other languages; (e) the inflectional classes of Romeika are systematized on the basis of previous classification of Modern Greek morphology (Ralli 2000, 2012) and taking into account the presence of animacy distinctions; (f) the shift of default gender from neuter to feminine is outlined; (g) the cases of differential subject marking use with feminine nouns are attested; (h) based on these properties, Romeika is assumed to be closely related to the Chaldiot variety of Pontic; besides, it shares some features characteristic to Trapezountiac variety as well; (j) not all properties observed in Romeika are traced back to Pontic, because there are some developments that apply only to the understudied variety and took place after Pontic people left Anatolia and settled in the Caucasus.
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