2006 | 30 | 427-438
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On the use of prepositional phrases in peripheral dialects of Varanavas

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The paper sets out to discuss cases of prepositional phrases used in the Lithuanian dialects of Ramaskonys, Rodunia, Zirmunai and Plikiai on the territory of the district of Varanavas, Belarus. It will attempt to identify possible reasons for their spread, substitution of 'pure'' cases by prepositional phrases. The author's claims are based on the ideas expressed in the last book by V. Ambrazas. Isolated Lithuanian territories in the district of Varanavas have been put in a complicated sociolinguistic situation: bilingualism and trilingualism have been almost completely ousted by Belorussian dialects. The Lithuanian language is retreating into passive use. In present dialects of Varanavas very frequent prepositions 'ant', 'del', 'in', 'po' used in combination with the case tend to acquire more concrete meanings, especially in sentences. Many of them are analogous to those found in the neighbouring Slavic languages and thus are often alien for Lithuanian. The impact of standard Lithuanian cannot be totally disregarded either. Lithuanian and Slavic languages which often come into close contact tend to develop the same patterns and constructions. Local Belorussian seems to promote the development. Quite a few lexical and grammatical borrowings have been used in the dialects of Varanavas since very old times. It promotes and speeds up the use of alien syntactic models in Lithuanian. The process of borrowing is not limited to a couple of different patterns; often syntactic rules can be adopted as well. Also, old constructions can acquire completely new semantic content. Prepositional phrases have not completely ousted the old non-prepositional phrases which are characteristic of the dialects of Varanavas. The prepositional phrases have been adopted and used not instead of the 'pure' cases, but rather alongside with them.
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  • N. Tuomiene, Lithuanian Language Institute, P. Vileisio g. 5, LT-10308, Vilnius, Lithuania
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