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Book Chapter

Lexical convergence reflects complex historical processes: a case study of two borderline regions of Russia


Chechuro,  Ilia
Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Chechuro, I. (2021). Lexical convergence reflects complex historical processes: a case study of two borderline regions of Russia. In D. Forker, & L. A. Grenoble (Eds.), Language Contact in the Territory of the Former Soviet Union. John Benjamins. doi:10.1075/impact.50.02che.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-6E5D-5
This paper is an illustration of how deep historical and anthropological analyses may be of use in studies of linguistic convergence and in contact linguistics. The study reported here aims at investigating the lexical influence of Russian on East Caucasian languages. In this study, I use an extended version of the DagLoans wordlist created by the members of the Linguistic Convergence Laboratory (HSE, Moscow). I collect this list in the languages belonging to two different linguistic areas of Daghestan: the Rutul area and the Tsezic area. The two areas share many sociolinguistic features, such as the neighboring languages, multilingualism and migration patterns. However, the wordlists show completely different counts for loanwords coming from source languages with similar status (Azerbaijani and Georgian on the one hand and Russian on the other). In order to explain the observed counts, I discuss historical and anthropological data from the two regions and propose several possible explanations. With these explanations, I intend to show that studies of language contact cannot be based exclusively on geographical proximity and surface sociolinguistic profiling and should be refined by more detailed information such as cultural influence, as well as a deeper historical investigation.