This article examines some traits in the Swedish of a semi-speaker of the Gammalsvenskby dialect of Swedish in Ukraine. The traditionally Swedish-speaking community in Gammalsvenskby underwent a collective language shift to Ukrainian in the 1930s and 1940s. Due to the radical nature of the shift, community members generally speak Swedish either fluently or not at all, depending on their age. One – perhaps the only – exception is the semi-speaker ‘Svetlana’, who was born in 1963 and is thus some 25 years younger than all other remaining speakers. In the article, some traits in Svetlana’s use of nouns, verbs and pronouns are studied, based on a 32-minute recording. It is clear that Svetlana’s Swedish differs greatly from that of the fluent speakers. It is also clear that many of the differences in phonology, lexicon and syntax are due to the fact that Svetlana’s most fluent language is Ukrainian. However, the article argues that the select morphological and morphosyntactic deviations studied do not constitute clear-cut instances of contact-related convergence. Instead, it is shown how they may be related to ‘internal’ developments in the dialect and to variation in the speech of the last fluent speakers. In such cases, it is argued, the differences should not be treated as haphazard loss of morphology just because of the social circumstances in which they occur. Rather, they should be seen as change resulting from processes quite similar to those in other instances of language change.
|Publication status||Published - 2015|
|MoE publication type||A1 Journal article-refereed|
- Language death
- Language shift