2018, Volume 15, Issue 3

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Yuri A. Dzitstsoity
South Ossetian State University
Tskhinvali, Republic of South Ossetia

On Criss-crossing Isoglosses in the Vocabulary and Toponymy of South Ossetia

Voprosy onomastiki, 2018, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp. 78–104 (in Russian)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2018.15.3.030

Received 2 October 2017

Abstract: The paper examines the facts of phonetic interference between the Kudar and Iron dialects of the Ossetian language on the basis of dialect vocabulary and toponymy of South Ossetia. Being a residual phenomenon, they testify to the dialect mixing that occurred in the earlier times of language development. The most striking indicator of interference is that most characteristic sounds of one dialect have been used in the other for emphatic purpose. In Iranian studies, the described phenomena are generally referred to as “criss-crossing isoglosses” (V. I. Abaev, D. I. Edelman, and others). However, the term is subject to varying interpretations and, in some studies, criss-crossing isoglosses may refer to inter-dialectal (in some cases also interlingual) lexical borrowings of the most ancient periods. While not disputing the abovementioned approach, the author proposes to address criss-crossing isoglosses as evidence of interdialectal phonetic interference. As suggested by E. A. Grantovsky, this kind of isoglosses originates from the inter-dialectal interaction and even confusion that took place in the distant past. The criss-crossing isogloss problem also correlates with the issues of substrate/superstrate and adstrate relations between cognate languages or dialects of one language. Thus, the task of specifying criss-crossing isoglosses is relevant not only for history (and historical phonetics, in particular) and dialectology of a given language, but also for shedding light on ethnogenesis and ethnic history.

Keywords: South Ossetia, Ossetian language, Kudar dialect, Iron dialect, Chisan dialect, toponymy, expressive vocabulary, phonetic interference, criss-crossing isoglosses


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