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Slavic microlanguages are literary linguistic varieties that exist alongside the better-known Slavic languages of historically prominent nations. Aleksandr Dulichenko coined the term "(literary) microlanguages" at the end of the 1970s; it subsequently became a standard term in Slavistics.
Slavic microlanguages exist both as geographically and socially peripheral dialects of more well-established Slavic languages and as completely isolated ethnolects. They often enjoy a written form, a certain degree of standardization and are used in a variety of circumstances typical of codified idioms—albeit in a limited fashion and always alongside a national standard language.
Insular and peripheral microlanguages
Native speakers of contemporary Slavic microlanguages either live among unrelated linguistic communities, thereby constituting an ethnic "island", or live on the geographical periphery of their historical ethnic group. Correspondingly, these microlanguages can be divided into insular and peripheral categories (the latter of which can also be called "regional languages"). The principal insular forms are: Rusyn, Burgenland Croatian, Molise Croatian, Resian dialect (which may also be characterized as "peninsular") and Banat Bulgarian. The main peripheral forms include Prekmurje Slovene, East Slovak, Lachian, Carpatho-Russian, West Polesian and others.
The precise hierarchical relationship between national standard languages and microlanguages can be ascertained by examining internal attributes, such as the disparity between strictly enforced standardisation in the case of the former and, in the case of the latter, a more relaxed standard. The national language often displays a standardised spoken form whereas such a regularity is absent from microlanguages (whose spoken form often consists of divergent dialects.) Likewise, the difference can be seen in external attributes such as extensive functionality and explored genres in the case of national languages, compared to the narrowness of genres and limited functional role of microlanguages.
As literary microlanguages are, in terms of functionality, more expansive than their corresponding dialects, they display a tendency toward standardised norms, which entails a significant enlargement of the lexicon and a more systematised, codified grammar, often by way of foreign borrowings, and recourse to a previous literary and linguistic tradition alien to vernacular dialects. In contrast to a dialect exploited for artistic purposes, every minor literary Slavic language is to a greater or lesser degree governed by an organised literary and linguistic process that provides for the establishment and development of a literary microlanguage, and which presents it as such.
In terms of location, Slavic microlanguages exist in both predominantly Slavic and non-Slavic areas, earning some the designation of linguistic "islands" resulting from a past migration, whereas others exist indigenously, having never been entirely separated from their genetic and geographic points of origin.
Behind the majority of Slavic microlanguages are not nations, but the so-called cultural-linguistic and ethno-linguistic groups as branches of large Slavic ethnic groups-nations.
Peripheral literary micro-languages function in the environment of cultural and linguistic groups that exist within the peripheral (ethnic) area and are distinguished within its framework only by local features of cultural-historical and linguistic (dialectal) nature – such are Chakavians, Kajkavians in Croatia, etc.; ethno-linguistic groups, that is, “insular”, which are national minorities, are behind insular literary micro-languages — such are the Gradishan Croats, Molizian Slavs, Banat Bulgarians, etc. (unlike cultural-linguistic groups, they are characterised by more tangible ethnic and linguistic separately). Both peripheral and island branches consider themselves to be an inseparable part of the corresponding Slavic ethnic nations: the Banat Bulgarians – the Bulgarians, the Chakavians and the Kajkavians, as well as the Gradishan Croats and the Molizi Slavs – the Croats, etc., but also as an independent Slavic language, as it is used by an ethnic group (community), claiming the role of nationality. However, the border between microlanguages and independent Slavic languages and in some other cases turns out to be indistinct: for example, the “insular” Sorbian, representing the Slavic national minority in Germany, and peripheral to the Polish Kashubian tradition established in Russian linguistics, are considered as separate languages.[clarification needed]
History of occurrence
As conditions for the emergence of literary microlanguages are necessary: the presence of compactness of the environment and the associated isolation from the main dialect continuum, awareness of linguistic and ethnic specificity, complexity of the dialectal landscape, forcing you to look for your own literary language (especially during the formation of national literary languages) close dialect basis; the presence of literary-linguistic pre-tradition in a related or unrelated language, which provided the conditions for experiments on the use of native speech as a literary language; at the same time, the quantitative factor is not decisive, although it influences the potential possibilities of the literary-language process. Stimulating moments in the emergence of a number of Slavic microlanguages were Protestantism (16th century), the movement for the national revival of Slavic peoples (19th century), a subjective factor, that is, the presence of enlighteners who are able to give an impetus to the power of their example organisations of the literary-linguistic process in their dialect (dialect).
A peculiarity of peripheral literary microlanguages is that almost all of them already at the initial stage of their development (before the era of national revival) were regional variants that competed with each other to become the basis of the emerging national literary language.
- Duličenko A. D. Malyje slavianskije literaturnyje jazyki (mikrojazyki) // Jazyki Mira: Slavianskije Jazyki. М.: Academia, 2005
- Duličenko A. D. Slavianskije literaturnyje mikrojazyki. Voprosy formirovanija i rasvitija. Tallinn, 1981.
- Duličenko A. D. Jazyki malyh etničeskih grupp: funkcionaljnyj status i problemy razvitija slovaria (na slavianskom materïale) // Modernisierung des Wortschatzes europäischer Regional- und Minderheitensprachen. Tübingen, 1999.
- Duličenko А. D. Kleinschriftsprachen in der slawischen Sprachenwelt // Zeitschrift für Slawistik, 1994, Bd. 39.