Языки симбиотических сообществ Западных Балкан: греческий и албанский в краине Химара, Албания

Андрей Николаевич Соболев

Research output


The paper promotes a hypothesis about a former greek-albanian symbiotic society in krahina Himara in South Albania, where Greek and Albanian languages and cultures coexisted in additional distribution. Data on lexicon and spontaneous narratives in previously undescribed greek dialect of Palasa village are presented, revealing a typologically rare and not well-studied nondominant bilingualism, equal and additional functional distribution of Greek and Albanian, code switching and language hybridization.

Evidence of additional distribution of the Greek and Albanian in Palasa was found in the vocabulary of traditional calendar, and in the narratives and dialogues of the pan-Balkan Legend of Old Lady March, as well as in the language for mourning the dead. As for calendar, the data indicates the consolidation of the Greek language as the primary means of storing knowledge, its transmission, and communication in matters of Orthodox Christianity; whereas the Albanian language exhibits the fixed function of disseminating the traditional Balkan folk mythological motifs, and on the other hand, the official Albanian state calendar. In the narrative of The Legend of Old Lady March, which has been told in Greek, the switch into Albanian is indicative when the legendary protagonist insulted the month of March (Dhjefsha buzë marsit! "I wish to defecate in front of March!"). The swearing in Albanian is a direct indication of the ancestral first language of the (female) consultants, who possibly borrowed the whole narrative from Albanian to Greek. Mourning the dead is a phenomenon ripe for detailed study. The women of Palasa, who generally did not speak Albanian, mourned their dead in that language, having had learned the words "by ear". The phenomenon of hybridization (or fusion) is acknowledged on the lexical level in traditional anthroponomastics and with regard to the system of naming months, where we see Albanian month names like Shkurtish, for ‘February’ (instead of a reflex of Greek Φλεβάρης). On the other hand, the functional load is distributed equally according to the general equal communicative competence of speakers in both languages in specific subcategories of the lexical system, e.g. in the names of body parts.
Translated title of the contributionLanguages in Western Balkan symbiotic societies: Greek and Albanian in Himara, Albania
Original languageRussian
Pages (from-to)420–442
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017

Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics

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