The origins of Slavonic : language contact and language change in ancient eastern Europe and western Eurasia
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This thesis attempts to analyze the causes and mechanisms of the dissolution of the language ancestral to the modern Slavonic languages. Recent advances in the field of archaeology have cast traditional theories of the Indo-Europeanization of Europe into doubt; specifically, consensus has been growing that the Indo-European languages arrived in Europe several millennia earlier than previously thought, accompanying the introduction of agriculture into Anatolia, the Aegean, and the Balkan peninsula at the end of the Neolithic period. This stands in contrast to the conventional premise that Proto-Indo-European was introduced during the Bronze Age by nomadic tribes from the steppes north of the Caucasus mountains. Acceptance of the former model requires significant adjustment in the chronology of the break-up of Indo-European unity. In addition, it necessitates the adjustment of current theories of the origin and spread of change within a language. We have attempted to address this issue by the proposal of a framework of language evolution incorporating the Utterance-Based Theory of Selection and the Punctuated Equilibrium Model. Both of these models rely on research in the field of sociolinguistics, and stress the role of external factors in the development of languages. Our tentative conclusion was that there exists a concrete and dynamic relationship between catastrophic historical events and episodes of profound change in the structure of a language. The body of this thesis is composed of historical, archaeological, and linguistic evidence, which substantiates this claim.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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