Viena Karelians as observers of dialect differences in their heritage language
Kunnas, Niina (2018-04-24)
Kunnas, N. (2018). Viena Karelians as observers of dialect differences in their heritage language. In M. Palander, H. Riionheimo & V. Koivisto (Eds.), On the border of language and dialect (pp. 123-155). Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura. doi:10.21435/sflin.21
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This article deals with Viena Karelian laypeople’s perceptions and evaluations of dialect. One aim was to determine which dialect features are discussed among laypeople and how laypeople perform in a listening task. The results show that the perceived dialect or language area of White Sea Karelian is smaller than the dialect area defined by professional linguists. Amongst the respondents, it was commonly thought that White Sea Karelian is spoken only in the Kalevala National District, and that Paanajärvi does not belong to the same dialect area. The listening task showed that the dialect awareness of Viena Karelians is not very high, as even their ‘own’ variety was sometimes incorrectly located. With respect to dialect perceptions, it can be said that differences in vocabulary are readily available and much discussed among Viena Karelians. Laypeople also commented on phonological differences but used colloquial terms such as smooth and hard to describe them. At a phonetic level, the variation between /s/ and /š/ was widely commented on by the informants. They noted that speakers of White Sea Karelian make more extensive use of /š/ whereas in the southern varieties of Karelian /s/ is more common. The speakers of White Sea Karelian were perceived to ‘lisp’ or ‘speak with š’, and speakers of other varieties were said to use a sharper /s/. According to this study, there is a perceptual connection between the form (extensive use of /š/) and the group identified as using it (speakers of White Sea Karelian).
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