Innovations and Reproductions in Cultures and Societies
(IRICS) Vienna, 9 - 11 december 2005

<< Reproduktionen und Innovationen in Sprache und Kommunikation verschiedener Sprachkulturen
<< Reproduction and Innovation in Language and Communication in different Language Cultures

The sociolinguistics of borrowing: Georgian moxdoma and Russian proizojti"happen"

Nino Amiridze (Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS, NL) / Olga Gurevich (UC Berkeley, US)



Georgian is usually described as a highly synthetic language. In this paper, we examine an analytical construction which emerged in the last few decades, possibly under the influence of a similar Russian construction. We examine the structural similarities between the two constructions and focus on their discourse / pragmatic functions. We argue that the Georgian construction is used to make the speaker sound authoritative and official, while the Russian construction serves merely to de-emphasize the role of the agent in an event. We explore the development of the Georgian construction and possible cultural routes by which it acquired its sociolinguistic load. Both constructions occur mostly in official speeches and media reports, but are also spreading into everyday use. The Russian construction serves to anonymize or de-emphasize the role of an agent.

While this is also true for some of the Georgian examples, the choice of the analytical construction over the synthetic construction also carries a meta-linguistic message. In many instances, speakers seem to prefer the analytical construction in order to sound official, authoritative, and politically or scientifically correct, including cases where the agent is not de-focused or de-emphasized The Russian construction served as a catalyst for the Georgian analytical construction with moxdoma, but it has since developed in its own right, both to integrate more fully into Georgian morphosyntax, and to acquire further sociolinguistic meaning. We explore Georgian-internal sources for the grammaticalization of light verbs and examine a Georgian cultural tradition of toast-making that may have led to a Russian-like construction taking on particular prestige not present in the source language.

Innovationen und Reproduktionen in Kulturen und Gesellschaften (IRICS) Wien, 9. bis 11. Dezember 2005

WEBDESIGN: Peter R. Horn 2005-10-12