Migration and Linguistic Diversification: Karelian in Tver and Finland (KATVE)

The project focuses on two migration-based varieties of Karelian, Tver Karelian in Russia and Border Karelian in Finland, representing the same dialect in two different language contact settings. Tver Karelian originated in the 17th century due to migration to Inner Russia and has been maintained until the present day as an isolated enclave; the Border Karelian speakers in Finland are WWII evacuees from the area ceded to the Soviet Union. Comparing these linguistically intriguing but under-researched varieties offers a unique opportunity to investigate the linguistic diversification caused by different historical background, length of residence, social circumstances and linguistic environment.

The general goals are to produce new knowledge 1) on the processes of dialectal evolution, diversification and language deterioration, 2) on speakers’ perceptions of these processes, and 3) on contacts between cognate and non-cognate languages. Research is focused on referential structures, vocabulary and inflection, and linguistic awareness. The theoretical framework is a combination of the theory of new-dialect formation, contact linguistics, studies on language revitalization, and folk linguistics.

Methodologically, new insights are gained by applying corpus-linguistic and statistical tools to data from an endangered language and developing new practices to fieldwork by applying folk-linguistic tests and interviews. The project will make use of three digital speech corpora: 1) Corpus of Border Karelia, 2) Corpus of Old Tver Karelian, and 3) Corpus of Current Tver Karelian (the latter two are to be compiled during this project).

The project advances the general understanding about multilingualism, language contacts and language endangerment. Locally, it is firmly linked with the strategic areas of the University of Eastern Finland and contributes to the multi-disciplinary studies of linguistic and cultural contacts in general, and the studies of Karelian and Karelia in particular.

The project is funded by the Academy of Finland (2018–2022).