Russian-Estonian Bidirectional Transfer

Anastassia Zabrodskaja (University of Tartu, Tallinn University)

Modern Russian-Estonian language contact can be characterized as ‘multiple’ because, on the one hand, Estonians have some competence in Russian and, on the other hand, Russians have started using the Estonian language extensively. A number of related quantitative and qualitative studies have been carried out to describe the outcomes of this language contact situation, referring to the emergence of a new language variety called Estonian Russian. Estonian Russian exhibits increasing Estonian influence in lexicon (code-switching/global copying), morphosyntax (bilingual constructions, word order, argument structure), and discourse pragmatics. Whole morphosyntactic patterns that often contradict monolingual Russian norms have been borrowed, e.g. the word order in NP in genitive. Empirical data from Estonian Russian shows that there are indeed constructions conventionalized in local Russian that are at odds with monolingual grammar rules. Most of the studies are based on a limited number of tokens collected from natural usage situations in different contexts. There has been very little work done focusing on (experimentally) establishing which transfer innovations are the most entrenched and what their diffusion potential and actual diffusion pattern is. This is where the current study sets its primary goal.

The main focus of the paper is on the transfer of Russian morphosyntactic patterns into Estonian usage and Estonian morphosyntactic patterns into Russian usage. The subjects are speakers of Russian and Estonian attending Estonian secondary schools. The goal of the paper is to specify the potential contact-induced morphosyntactic innovations in bilinguals’ use and the sociolinguistic factors affecting their diffusion to the usage of monolingual users.

Comments are closed.