Man'kov Aleksandr

The Dialect of Gammalsvenskby: an attempt at compiling a dictionary of an endangered language (a - brist-bäin)

Man'kov Aleksandr (2014) "The Dialect of Gammalsvenskby: an attempt at compiling a dictionary of an endangered language (a - brist-bäin) ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia III : Filologiia, 2014, vol. 38, pp. 91-130 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturIII201438.91-130


The study of endangered languages is one of the most urgent tasks of linguistics today. This urgency results from the ongoing rapid decrease in the number of spoken languages. According to authoritative forecasts, during the 21th century from 50 to90% of spoken languages will become extinct. A particularly tragic situation takes place when the language not only disappears but disappears undocumented and unexplored, i.e. forever and without a trace. Documenting endangered languages may thus be regarded as a moral duty of linguists. From a purely linguistic point of view the study of endangered languages can provide material that either changes or significantly corrects our knowledge of what is possible in human language. The development of present-day linguistics (and particularly that of linguistic typology) as well as the enrichment of its factual base is to a large extent related to describing unexplored languages.The principal task in the study of an unexplored language is documenting it, i.e. collecting and making available the factual material. In this paper we begin to publish materials for the dictionary of the present-day dialect of Staroshvedkoye (Gammalsvenskby), which is the only surviving Scandinavian dialect in the territory of the former Soviet Union. The present-day state of this dialect has not been described in linguistic literature. In connection with this, the only source of the factual material is oral interviews with speakers of the dialect recorded by the author during his trips to the village in 2004-2013.The main objective of this work is to present material recorded in the interviews in the most complete way and to show the real state of the vocabulary and inflection of the dialect. The entries include the following information: type of inflection; translation; phrases, sentences or short texts illustrating the usage (with initials of the informants). In many cases full paradigms are given as well. They include all phonetic and morphological forms that have occurred in the interviews.It should be noted that in the course of the interviews, the informants started to cite unrecorded words, point to gaps and inaccuracies in the description, thus becoming participants of the research of their own language. On the whole, the study of the dialect has become possible only due to the cooperation and involvement of the informants and is to a large degree their accomplishment.


documenting endangered languages, endangered language, fi eld linguistics, present-day Swedish dialects, Swedish dialects of Estonia, the village of Gammalsvenskby, dictionary of a dialect

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Man'kov Aleksandr