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Coming Down From the Mountain: Dialect Contact and Convergence in Contemporary Hutsulshchyna

  • Author(s): Coyne, Erin Victoria
  • Advisor(s): Nichols, Johanna
  • et al.

Despite the recent increased interest in Hutsul life and culture, little attention has been paid to the role of dialect in Hutsul identity and cultural revival. The primary focus of the present dissertation is the current state of the Hutsul dialect, both in terms of social perception and the structural changes resulting from the dominance of the standard language in media and education.

Currently very little is known about the contemporary grammatical structure of Hutsul. The present dissertation is the first long-term research project designed to define both key elements of synchronic Hutsul grammar, as well as diachronic change, with focus on variation and convergence in an environment of increasing close sustained contact with standard Ukrainian resulting from both a historically-based sense of ethnic identification, as well as modern economic realities facing the once isolated and self-sufficient Hutsuls. In addition, I will examine the sociolinguistic network lines which allow and impede linguistic assimilation, specifically in the situation of a minority population of high cultural valuation facing external linguistic assimilation pressures stemming from socio-political expediency. Throughout this examination, I define the current social status of the dialect, its future viability, and the differences in attitudes and behaviors among various social groups, including members of the younger generation, in both the public and private realms. The broad conclusion supported by my research is that, despite Hutsul cultural prestige in Ukraine, their distinct dialect is endangered as a result of socio-economic pressures, including policies actively promoting the use of Ukrainian language in all spheres of public and private life. Through sustained contact, Hutsul has come to resemble Contemporary Standard Ukrainian (CSU) more and more in structural typology. The precise manner and degree to which this has occurred has not been analyzed in previous research.

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