The Balkan language area – Many languages but one grammar

In my last articles I told you much about the Romance languages and especially about Romanian being the only modern Romance language in the south-east of Europe. The languages in the Balkans belong to different language groups but if you learn more than one of them you will notice some similarities. A linguist and lawyer who also discovered them was Jernej Kopitar from Slovenia. He introduced the term of the Balkan language area or the Balkan sprachbund to use the German term. This language area includes Romanian, Albanian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, partially Greek and Hungarian as well as the Torlak dialects in the south-east of Serbia. He introduced some phonological, lexical and morphological similarities between all these languages. These languages use the determined article as a suffix. For instance take a look at the word (the) man in Albanian, Bulgarian and Romanian.

Albanian                 Bulgarian                                      Romanian

burrë (burri)           мъж(ът) (speak: măž(ăt) )       om(ul)

Actually the Slavic languages don’t use any determined articles. But Bulgarian and Macedonian both were influenced by an Albanian-Romanian Substrate which in both languages caused grammatical structures being not typical for a Slavic language. Another example you will know if you learn Russian, Polish or Czech is the complex declension of nouns. In Bulgarian and Macedonian you don’t have it. The genitive or dative is forme by using prepositions. The Balkan area languages are known for a rather weak declension system. For instance in Romanian, Albanian and Greek the genitive form is identical with the dative form. The verbs in most of these languages don’t have a separate Infinitive form and you won’t even find it if you look up a verb in the dictionary. I could tell you even more but maybe I will do it in my follwing articles. So stay tuned and try to learn one ore more languages from the Balkan area!



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