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Abstracts International Workshop "Visible and invisible borders"

Nika Loladze (Tbilisi State University)
Georgian Greeks – Chronicle of a migration foretold

This presentation will elaborate both the route and the push or pull factors of migration to and from Georgia of the ethnic Greek population of Georgia. The main focus will be on a comparative analysis of post-Soviet migration processes, the social and economic conditions in Urum and Pontic Greek communities then and now. This will elucidate the reasons of the emigration processes: were they economical, repatriational or due to conflicts, based on a multi-cultural environment?

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Stavros Skopeteas (Bielefeld University), Evgenia Kotanidis (Tbilisi State University), Violeta Moisidi (Tbilisi)
Dynamic Lexicon: From individuals to communities

This talk presents an empirical study on lexicological change. In endangered-language situations, speakers forget the lexical expressions of concepts that are not crucial for their communication in the heritage language. The lexical items that are “lost” in the inventories of individuals are not random but they follow the borrowability hierarchy, i.e., the concepts that are more likely to be expressed through borrowing across languages are exactly the concepts that are more likely to be forgotten by individual speakers. Although this correlation is trivial, a more precise investigation shows that the scale of concepts has a greater slope at the level of individuals (likelihood to forget a lexical item for a concept) than at the level of communities (likelihood to express a concept with a loanword).

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Stefanie Böhm (Bielefeld University)
Differential object marking in Standard Turkish and Urum

This talk presents a comparative study on case marking and word order in Standard Turkish and Urum. Both languages have overt morphological case-marking, which is only used for a subset of direct objects. Following Bossong (1985) this phenomenon is called differential object marking (DOM). In contrast to Standard Turkish, in which the position of bare direct objects is fixed to the immediately preverbal position of a sentence, the empirical findings of the study will show that bare objects in Urum may also occur in other positions, which provides evidence to assume that the position of the verb in the Urum VP is free. This flexibility in the verb position is the result of the language contact with Russian and is also reported for other Turkic languages and varieties that are spoken in contact with a non-verbfinal language.

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Rusudan Asatiani (Ilia State University), Svetlana Berikashvili  (Tbilisi State University)
Morphological integration of Russian and Turkish nouns in Pontic Greek and in Georgian

The talk presents an empirical study on morphological integration of borrowed nouns in Pontic Greek and in Georgian. We have identified nouns borrowed on the basis of non-native sound segments and have investigated their integration into different morphological structures. The methods of research have been based on the contrastive and descriptive structural analysis. The loan-words have been elicited from the Georgian Explanatory Dictionary (for Georgian) and the corpus data collected from native-speaking informants (for Pontic Greek). Some observations were made on the morphological categories of Gender, Number and Case. The conclusions were drawn about the interaction between languages of different morphological types, and the various strategies of borrowing. It’s more likely that borrowing is easier between languages of the same morphological types, in our case from Turkish to Georgian (concatenative to concatenative) and from Russian to Pontic (non-concatenative to non-concatenative).

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Marika Jikia (Ilia State University), Nutsa Tsereteli (Tbilisi State University)
Morphological integration of transfers from foreign languages in Caucasian Urum

The work represents our attempt to observe morphological integration of transfers from foreign languages, in this case, Russian and Georgian, in Caucasian Urum. We have identified word and expression borrowings and through the work we have revealed the categories of gender, number and case.

The research was carried out on the grounds of the data collected from Urum native speakers, living in the southern part of Georgia and in Tbilisi as well. Structural analysis of the collected data has offered the opportunity to reveal the strategies of borrowings in morphologically different types of languages.

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Johanna Neugebauer (Bielefeld University)
Complex Possessive Constructions in Urum language - a field experiment

The realization of possessive relations in Urum language is influenced by the possibility of double-marking in complex noun phrases.  This talk presents an analysis of data collected during a field trip in February 2014 (of spoken possessive phrases) with an emphasis on the way possession in complex constructions is morphologically marked, ranging from double-marking over single-marking to zero-marking.  A basic introduction to possessive structures in Urum language and in particular the aspect of alienability in regard to possession will be shortly presented. The statistical analysis of the collected data leads to the assumption that the way of realizing possessive phrases is currently in the process of changing from double-marked to single-marked. This phenomenen might have its cause in influences of the surrounding languages on Urum, especially of the Russian language.

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Lia Melikishvili (Georgian National Academy of Sciences), Natia Jalabadze (Tbilisi State University)
Maintaining Ethnic Identity – Greeks in Tsalka Distric

In the proposed paper, we shall discuss identity maintenance strategies of Greeks in Tsalka district, namely Urums, which comprise the majority of the region's Greek population today.

Language is often considered to be the most important marker in the identity construction of a nation; however, in the case of Urums it does not operate like that. Because of their Turkic language, Urums faced certain confusions with respect to their ethnic identity – they have been labelled Tatars (which is the common name for Muslims in Georgia) by non-Greek ethnic groups; even the Soviet censuses, due to their phonetic similarity, showed Azeri as the mother tongue of the Tsalka Urums. Similarity with Azeri resulted in the fact that Urums often attended Azeri schools, though it did not affect their ethnic orientation.

In the case of Urums, religion (Greek Orthodox Christianity) can be seen as an ethnic marker. Urums in Tsalka have preserved Greek religious traditions and even established new practices as manifestation of their Greekness: Construction of small churches in the yards of their abandoned houses in Georgia, their arrival in Tsalka on Easter, when they go to the cemeteries of their ancestors, etc. These traditions have become a connecting link that binds the emigrated Greeks to their homeland in Georgia.

 Through the observation of cultural traditions and customs and the preservation of national sentiments, Urums manage to maintain their identity in a multi-ethnic surrounding. Their identity preservation mechanisms intensified after interior migration of the groups of Georgian ethnic origin – Svans and Ajarians in the region and a sharp decline of the Greek population.

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Zaal Kikvidze (Kutaisi State University)
The Sociolinguistic Profile of Kvemo Kartli, Georgia: Dimensions and Formulas

The present paper deals with the language situation in Georgia’s province Kvemo Kartli with special reference to Urums (South Caucasian Turcophone Greeks). They speak a Turkic language, referred to as Urum (ISO 639-3 -- uum). The formulaic approach seems to be one of the adequate ways for describing the language situation in Kvemo Kartli; thus, one can provisionally assume the following regional sociolinguistic profile formula: 1Lmaj (So, Sg, Sr, Se) + nLmin, where 1Lmaj is Georgian; as for the n in nLmin, it designates an unspecified number of minority languages within the region in question.

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Dionysios Zoumpalidis (University of Cyprus)
We and They: Inter- and intra-communal ethno-linguistic borders
The case of Pontic Greeks in Cyprus

The ethnolinguistic situation of the Pontic Greek community in Cyprus is far from simple. In spite of the seemingly homogeneous character of the Pontic Greek community, there are a number of factors that are responsible for drawing linguistic, national and even ethnic identity borders within the community in question. Some of the factors stem from the history of Pontic Greeks, others can be found in the role the geographical provenance of Pontic Greeks may play. A large number of Pontic Greeks moved from the former Soviet republics, mostly from the north Caucasus (Russia) and the south Caucasus (Georgia), to Cyprus in the mid/end 1990s following the fall of the Iron Curtain and the consequent collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. At the time of their arrival in Cyprus, the majority of Pontic Greeks from Georgia were Turko-phone, whereas those from Russia were equally fluent in Turkish and Russian. Very few Pontic Greeks were Pontic Greek-speaking (i.e. fluent Pontic Greek dialect speakers).

In this study (which constitutes part of my PhD project), I investigate the ethnic self-perception of Turko-/Russo-phone Pontic Greeks and of those speaking the Pontic Greek dialect. In addition, I examine the concept of mother tongue and the potential (symbolic) role it may play for all members of the Pontic Greek community in Cyprus. The preliminary results indicate that the majority of Pontic Greeks ethnically self-identify as ‘Greeks’. However, not all Pontic Greeks seem to recognize the ‘Greekness’ of some members of the Pontic Greek community. This alleged lack of ethnic recognition, mostly on the part of Pontic Greek-speaking Pontic Greeks in relation to Turko-phone Pontic Greeks is largely dependent on the attitudes they hold towards the Turkish language/culture/the role of Ottoman Turks in the history of Pontos. In the same vein, the local Greek Cypriot community does not seem to see Pontic Greeks as ‘genuine’ Greeks precisely because of the language-ethnicity link. In this light, it is interesting to examine the current linguistic behavior of Pontic Greeks within as well as outside the community. As the preliminary results show there has been a tendency to distance themselves from the Turkish language as well as from some Turkish elements present in some cultural traditions that can be found in the Pontic Greek community today in Cyprus.

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Ioanna Sitaridou (University of Cambridge/ Queen’s College)
Romeyka in Anatolia: Continuity, contact and change

One Pontic Greek variety, Romeyka of Turkey, today preserves a robust infinitive usage. Comparing the current infinitival distribution in Romeyka with previous stages of Greek, I argue that: (a) the Romeyka infinitive has roots in Ancient Greek due to preservation of the construction prin “before” with infinitive, which remains extremely productive, but which did not survive in other varieties into early medieval times and is only found as a learned construction in ‘high’ registers of the Medieval Greek record; (b) neither the survival of the plain and personal infinitive, nor the emergence of the inflected one can be due to contact with Turkish; (c) the Romeyka infinitive, part of a conservative medieval variety with Hellenistic features, once cut off from other medieval varieties (as early as the 11th c. ce and as late as the 16th c. ce), was reanalyzed as a negative polarity item. Such reanalysis feeds into the discussion that NPIs belong to various syntactic categories, such as nominal NPIs, NPI adverbs, NPI verbs, NPI focus particles, minimizers and now an infinitive, too.

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Laurentia Schreiber (Freie Universität Berlin)
Language, Politics & Identity: A view from Muslim Pontic Greek in Turkey

The talk analyses the impact of language policy on identity and attitudes of a linguistic minority. Based on the example of Muslim Pontic Greek in Turkey, I will show the impact language policy has on the vitality of a minority language. For this purpose, Turkish minority policy and its concept of national identity are presented along with aspects of the sociolinguistic situation of Romeyka and language attitudes from the Romeyka community. The talk is based on first results of an attitudinal survey which has been carried out in Istanbul and Çaykara in spring and summer 2014.

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Wolfgang Kesselheim (University of Zurich)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
The construction of borders and ethnic identities in everyday interaction: A conversation analytical perspective

Borders and ethnic groups are generally considered to be the result of large-scale historical and political processes. From a conversation analytical perspective, however, they are constructed at a micro-level, in the course of every-day interactions. In my talk I will show how people resort to socially shared knowledge about the constructed groups and borders, but also dynamically adapt their group construction to their current lines of reasoning or needs of self-presentation.

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Dr. Eleni Sideri (International Hellenic University)
Borders as tidemarks in the case of the Urumebi of Tsalka: Language, identity and place

According to Sarah Green (2009:1) borders are like tidemarks which can, "combine lines and traces, mixing the notion of a place in particular with the sense of time passing, in different ways at different moments". In Tsalka, as homeland of various populations Armenians, Azeris, Turkish-speaking Greeks, Russian and Georgians, these tidemarks include many different cultural and social histories regarding various fields of social life, such as ethnicity, language, ownership. My paper will focus on the Urumebi (the ethnic Greek group of Tsalka) and will stem mainly from my fieldwork in the area during 2003-2004 and later visits in 2007 and 2010. The debates over the identity politics of this group in Tsalka did not simply reproduce past issues about ethnicity and territory. Questions of privatization of the land, transnational migration and diaspora identity mediate new understandings of older categories of belonging reshaping new visible and invisible borders.

Sarah Green (2009) ' Lines, Traces and Tidemarks: reflections on forms of borderli-nes', Paper presented at the COST IS0803 WG1 Meeting in Nicosia, 14-15th April, 2009,, Last accessed 12/4/2014

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Concha Maria Höfler (European University Viadrina)
Who’s in, who’s out? Space and boundary making in rural Georgian Greek communities

The Georgian Greek population is a prime example for how different (geographical) spaces make different in- and outgroups relevant in everyday life. This talk compares a speaker from a small village in the region of Ts’alk’a to one in the no less rural village of Tsikhisjvari in the region of Borjomi. The analysis will bring out the outgroups that are made relevant by the speakers as well as the communicative strategies employed in drawing boundaries between the respective in- and outgroups. To complete the picture, it will be shown how the need participants feel for establishing certain boundaries ties in with the socio-economic background of both spaces.

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Ekaterine Kartvelishvili (Tbilisi State University)
What does “homeland” mean? Sense of belonging among the second generation of Georgian Greek immigrants to Greece

This presentation will focus on the feelings of belonging, ethnicity and homeland of the Georgian Greek immigrants to Greece. The talk will be based on biographical interviews with the second generation from 18 to 30 – people that left Georgia at a very young age or were born in Greece. Which ethnic group, country or region do they feel they belong to, where is homeland and what does it mean for them? What is their identification of self and others and what is it stipulated by?

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Konstanze Jungbluth ( (European University Viadrina))

Conference wrap up: Language change embedded in the social context

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