In the 1930s, the Romanian linguist Alexandru Graur criticized the notion of “Balkan linguistics,” saying that one can talk about “relationships of borrowings, of influences, but not about Balkan linguistics”.
The term "Balkan linguistic union" was coined by the Romanian linguist Alexandru Rosetti in 1958, when he claimed that the shared features conferred the Balkan languages a special similarity. Theodor Capidan went further, claiming that the structure of Balkan languages could be reduced to a standard language. Many of the earliest reports on this theory were in German, hence the term "Balkansprachbund" is often used as well.
However, not all of these languages have the same number of features shared. That is why they are divided into three groups:
The Finnish linguist Jouko Lindstedt computed in 2000 a "Balkanization factor" which gives each Balkan language a score proportional with the number of features shared in the Balkan linguistic union. The results were:
|Greek, Balkan Romance||9.5|
Another language that may have been influenced by the Balkan language union is the Judeo-Spanish variant that used to be spoken by Sephardi Jews living in the Balkans. The grammatical features shared (especially regarding the tense system) were most likely borrowed from Greek.
An argument for this would be the structural borrowings or "linguistic calques" into Macedonian from Aromanian, which could be explained by Aromanian being a substrate of Macedonian, but this still does not explain the origin of these innovations in Aromanian.
Several arguments favour this theory. First, throughout the turbulent history of the Balkans, many groups of people moved to another place, inhabited by people of another ethnicity. These small groups were usually assimilated quickly and sometimes left marks in the new language they acquired. Second, the use of more than one language was common in the Balkans before the modern age, and a drift in one language would quickly spread to other languages. Third, the dialects that have the most "balkanisms" are those in regions where people had contact with people of many other languages.
Most likely the earliest contact was between the Proto-Romanians and Proto-Albanians, (1st century - 5th century AD) this theory being supported by the Albanian vocabulary borrowed from Balkan Latin, as well as the Romanian substrate, which has words cognate to Albanian words.
The exact area where contact occurred is under debate, ranging from Northern Albania to Transylvania. For more, see Origin of Romanians and Origin of Albanians. All Romanian varieties (from the Republic of Moldova to the Vlachs of Serbia) are part of the sprachbund, which shows that the contact happened before they diverged.
The invasion of the Slavs led to a period of migrations throughout the Balkans which created multi-ethnic communities and this led to the sprachbund beginning around the 8th century; most features were present by the 12th century, but in some parts it continued until the 17th century.
Serbian was perhaps the last language to join, as shown by the low number of features, most of which were only in the Torlak dialect, a dialect intermediary to Bulgarian which emerged rather late, after most features were settled in the sprachbund.
A common case system of a Balkan language is:
|English||I gave the book to Maria.||It is Maria's book.|
|Albanian||Ja dhashë librin Marisë.||Është libri i Marisë.|
|Aromanian||U-ded vivliapi Maria.||Easte vivlia aliMarie.|
|Bulgarian|| Дадох книгата на Мария|
[dadoh knigata na marija]
| Книгата е на Мария|
[knigata e na Marija]
|Romanian|| I-am dat cartea Mariei.|
colloq. for fem. (oblig. for masc.):
I-am dat cartea lui Marian.
| Este cartea Mariei.|
colloq. for fem. (oblig. for masc.):
Este cartea lui Marian.
|Macedonian|| ѝ ја дадов книгата на Марија.|
[ì ja dadov knigata na Marija]
| Книгата е на Марија.|
[knigata e na Marija]
|Greek|| Έδωσα το βιβλίο στην Μαρία.|
[édōsa to biblío stīn maría]
Έδωσα το βιβλίο της Μαρίας.
[édōsa to biblío tīs marías]
| Είναι το βιβλίο της Μαρίας.|
[eínai to biblío tīs marías]
| Της το έδωσα|
[tīs to édōsa]
'I gave it to her.'
| Είναι το βιβλίο της.|
[eínai to biblío tīs]
'It is her book.'
|Serbian||Dao sam knjigu Mariji*.||To je Marijina* knjiga.|
|language||"in Greece"||"into Greece"|
|Albanian||në Greqi||në Greqi|
|Aromania||tu Gãrtsia||tu Gãrtsia|
|Bulgarian||в Гърция (V Gărtsiya)||в Гърция (V Gărtsiya)|
|Greek||στην Ελλάδα (stīn Helláda)||στην Ελλάδα (stīn Helláda)|
|Macedonian||Во Грција (vo Grcija)||Во Грција (vo Grcija)|
|Romanian||în Grecia||în Grecia|
|Serbian||u Grčkoj*||u Grčku*|
|Language||Variant||Formation||Example: "I'll see"|
|Albanian||Tosk||"do" (invariant) + subjunctive||Do të shikoj|
|Gheg||"kam" (conjugated) + me + verbal noun||Kam me shikue|
|Aromanian||"va" (invariant) + subjunctive||Va s-ved|
|Greek||"θα" (invariant) + subjunctive||Θα δω / βλέπω (tha dō / blépō); "I'll see / be seeing"|
|Bulgarian||"ще" (invariant) + present tense||Ще видя (shte vidya)|
|Macedonian||"ќе" (invariant) + present tense||Ќе видам (kje vidam)|
|Serbian||(literary standard)||"хтети/hteti" (conjugated) + infinitive||Ја ћу видети (видећу) (ja ću videti [videću])|
|(colloquial)||"хтети/hteti" (conjugated) + subjunctive||Ја ћу да видим (ja ću da vidim)|
|Romanian||(literary standard)||"a voi" (conjugated) + infinitive||Voi vedea/vedeare|
|(colloquial)||"o" (invariant) + subjunctive||O să văd|
|(colloquial alternate)||"a avea" (conjugated) + subjunctive||Am să văd|
|(archaic)||"va" (invariant) + subjunctive||Va să văd|
|Romani||(Erli)||"ka" (invariant) + subjunctive||Ka dikhav|
For example, "I want to write" in several Balkan languages:
|Albanian||"Dua të shkruaj"||as opposed to Gheg me fjet "to sleep" or me hangr "to eat"|
|Macedonian||"Сакам да пишувам"|
|Bulgarian||"Искам да пиша"|
|Modern Greek||"Θέλω να γράψω"||as opposed to Ancient Greek "βούλομαι γράψαι"|
|Romanian||"Vreau să scriu"||as opposed to "Vreau a scrie/scriere", which is also correct, but rarely used.|
|Serbian||"Želim da pišem"/"Желим да пишем||as opposed to the literary, more correct form: "Želim pisati"/"Желим пиcaти, where pisati/пиcaти is the infinitive. Both phrases are correct and do not create misunderstandings, although the colloquial one is more commonly used in daily conversation.|
|Bulgarian Turkish||"isterim yazayım"||In Standard Turkish in Turkey this is "yazmak istiyorum" where "yazmak" is the infinitive.|
|Language||Without infinitive||With relict "infinitive"||Translation||Notes|
|Bulgarian||"Недей да пишеш."||"Недей писа."||Don't write.||The first part of the first three examples is the prohibitative element недей ("don't", composed of не, "not", and дей, "do" in the imperative). The second part of the examples, писа, я, зна and да, are relicts of what used to be an infinitive form (писати, ести, знати and дати respectively). This second syntactic construction is colloquial and more common in the eastern dialects. The forms usually coincide with the past aorist tense of the verb in the third person singular, as in the case of писа; those that don't coincide (as in the last three examples) are highly unusual today, but do occur, above all in older literature.|
|"Недей да ядеш."||"Недей я."||Don't eat.|
|"Недей да знаеш."||"Недей зна."||Don't know.|
|"Можете ли да ми дадете?"||"Можете ли ми да?"||Can you give me?|
This example translates in the Balkan languages the phrase "You should go!", using the subjunctive constructions.
|Macedonian||Да (си) одиш!|
|Serbian (mainly Torlak)||Да идеш!|
|Modern Greek||Να πας!|
|Romany (Gypsy)||Te dža!|
|Romanian||Să te duci!||in Romanian, the "a se duce" (to go) requires a reflexive construction, literally "take yourself (to)"|
However, each language created its own internal articles, so the Romanian articles are related to the articles (and demonstrative pronouns) in Italian, French, etc., while the Bulgarian articles are related to demonstrative pronouns in other Slavic languages.
|without article||with article||without article||with article|
|Language||The word "Eleven"||compounds|
|Albanian||"njëmbëdhjetë"||një + mbë + dhjetë|
|Aromanian||"unãsprã"||unã + sprã|
|Bulgarian||"единадесет"||един + (н)а + десет|
|Macedonian||"единаесет"||еде(и)н + (н)а + (д)есет|
|Romanian||"unsprezece" or, more commonly, "unşpe"||un + spre + zece < *unu + supre + dece; unu + spre; the latter is more commonly used, even in formal speech.|
|Serbian||"jedanaest/једанаест"||jedan+ (n)a+ (d)es(e)t/један + (н)а + (д)ес(е)т|
For example, "I see George" in Balkan languages:
|Albanian||"E shikoj Gjergjin"|
|Aromanian||"U- ved Yioryi"|
|Bulgarian||"Виждам го Георги." (colloquial form; see note)|
|Macedonian||"Гo гледам Ѓорѓи."|
|Greek||"Τον βλέπω τον Γιώργο"|
|Romanian||"Îl văd pe George."|
Note: The neutral case in normal (SVO) word order is without a clitic: "Виждам Георги." However, the form with an additional clitic pronoun is also possible in colloquial speech: "Виждам го Георги." And the clitic is obligatory in the case of a topicalized object (with OVS-word order), which serves also as the common colloquial equivalent of a passive construction. "Георги го виждам."
Albanian, Aromanian, Bulgarian, Greek, Romanian, Serbian and Macedonian also share a large number of words of various origins:
|Latin||mensa||table||menca (tavolinë)||masã||маса (masa)||-||masă||маса (masa)||-||masa|
|Byzantine Greek||λιβάδιον||meadow||livadh||livadã||ливада (livada)||λιβάδι||livadă||ливада (livada)||livada|
|Byzantine Greek||διδάσκαλος||teacher||-||dascal||даскал (daskal) (colloquial)||δάσκαλος||dascăl||даскал (daskal) (colloquial)||-||-|
|Byzantine Greek||κουτίον||box||kuti||cutii||кутия||κουτί||cutie||кутија (kutija)||kutija|
|Turkish||boya||paint, color||bojë (but also ngjyrë)||boi||боя (boya)||μπογιά (boyá)||boia||boja (boja)||boja|
For example, the word "ripen" (as in fruit) is constructed in Albanian, Romanian and (rarely) in Greek (piqem, a (se) coace, ψήνομαι) by a derivation from the word "to bake" (pjek, a coace, ψήνω).
Another example is the wish "(∅/to/for) many years":
|Greek||(medieval)||εις έτη πολλά||is eti polla|
|(modern)||χρόνια πολλά||khronia polla|
|Latin||ad multos annos|
|Romanian||la mulţi ani|
|Albanian||për shumë vjet|
|Bulgarian||за много години||za mnogo godini|
|Macedonian||за многу години||za mnogu godini|
Idiomatic expressions for "whether one
This feature also occurs in Greek, but it is lacking in some of the other Balkan languages; the central vowel is found in Romanian, Bulgarian, some dialects of Albanian, Macedonian and Serbian but not in Greek or Standard Macedonian. Less widespread features are confined largely to either Romanian or Albanian, or both:
ще - не ще
"whether one wants or not" Greek
θέλει δε θέλει
"whether one wants or not" Romanian
vrea nu vrea
"whether one wants or not" Turkish
"whether one wants or not" Serbian
Hteo- ne hteo/хтео - не хтео
"whether one wants or not" Albanian
deshti - nuk deshti
"whether one wants or not" Macedonian
сакал - не сакал / неќел
"whether one wants or not" Aromanian
i vrei - i nu vrei
"whether one wants or not"
The main phonological features consist of:
This feature also occurs in Greek, but it is lacking in some of the other Balkan languages; the central vowel is found in Romanian, Bulgarian, some dialects of Albanian, Macedonian and Serbian but not in Greek or Standard Macedonian.
Less widespread features are confined largely to either Romanian or Albanian, or both:
ACEEE: Recession Not Dimming States' Growing Focus on Energy Efficiency As 'First Fuel,' With CA, MA and CT Rated Best on Implementing Energy Efficiency.
Nov 06, 2009; The current economic downturn is not sidetracking state-level efforts to make the most of energy efficiency as the cheapest,...
Compact Rotary Vane Pumps are suited for tight locations.(New Compact Rotary Vane Pumps Ideal for Tight Locations)
Feb 28, 2011; Measuring 95 x 75.5 mm, CA and MA Series positive displacement pumps provide flow rates up to 77 GPH and are NSF listed for...