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An Introduction to Ukrainian Dialectology


Salvatore Del Gaudio

The book intends to render available to a wide range of students of Slavic languages, and particularly of Ukrainian, an outline of Ukrainian dialectology. The author presents the fascinating world of geographical variation of contemporary Ukrainian to all students of Slavic languages. A basic knowledge of Ukrainian dialects is likewise important to complete the theoretical and practical background of a Slavist, especially if focusing on Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian. It is also a valuable aid to a better understanding of diachronic and synchronic language processes, e.g. the Ukrainian-Russian mixed speech «suržyk».

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1. Dialectology: basic concepts

In a generalized way one can define dialectology (from Greek διάλεκτος, dialektos, "talk, dialect"; the particle διά implies separation, diversification, variation and -λογία, -logia “word, study”) as the discipline which studies the dialects of a specific language. The term dialect was first coined in 1577 on the basis of a Graeco-Latin term dialectus (διάλεκτος), i.e. way of speaking of specific people. Dialectal variation is present in most language areas and often has important social implications. The study of dialects deals with the variant features within a language, their history, differences of form and meaning, distribution, and, more generally, the spoken as distinct from their literary forms. The discipline recognizes all variations within the boundaries of any given language; it classifies and interprets them according to historical origins, principles of development, characteristic features, areal distribution, and social correlates.12

The Encyclopedia of Ukrainian defines dialectology as the branch of linguistics which studies:

     a) the dialectal language;

     b) its spatial (diatopic) variation and territorial differentiation;

     c) the history of language-territorial formation and specific language phenomena; ← 17 | 18 →

     d) the relation and interaction between other forms of existence of the language of the ethnic group, for example: literary language, prostoriččja and social dialects”.13

The spoken language, particularly in its territorial and rural dimension, not only preserves the current state of the language but also those language elements which are no longer in use or are...

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