Romani Studies

Compartmentalized grammar: The variable (non)-integration of Turkish verbal conjugation in Romani dialects

Romani Studies (2013), 23, (1), 107–120.

Abstract

Of the many languages with which Romani is in contact, Turkish occupies a special place in that the copying of entire Turkish verbal paradigms into a variety of Romani dialects in the Balkans is reminiscent, in some respects, of the position of the influence of Greek on Early Romani. The phenomenon in question affects only certain Romani dialects spoken in the Balkans, and is manifested in different dialects to varying degrees. In this article I shall bring together data from the Romani morpho-syntactic database and other sources of information on Turkish verbs in Romani dialects to show that there is a hierarchy of the distribution of borrowed features. Moreover, the phenomenon of Turkish conjugation in Romani challenges the notion that linguistic matrices must be either single (i.e. non-composite) or somehow defective (imperfect, shifting) and represents a phenomenon that I call ‘code compartmentaliztion’.

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Friedman, Victor