L2 Greek in Roman Egypt: Intense language contact in Roman military forts

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This paper will focus on analysing user-related variation in Greek inEgypt as seen through potsherd letters (ostraka) of the residents of Roman forts,praesidia, in the Eastern Desert of Egypt. The letters can be dated to the first and second centuries CE. I suggest that the linguistic situation in the forts can be seen as evidence of extensive language contact that was connected with the considerable economic activity of the Roman Empire. All military forts had several L2 Greek speakers of various ethnicity. In what follows I will suggest that Roman soldiers and their civil partners had created a system that can be described as a feature pool of Greek variables. I suggest that the data fromEgypt show that L2 speakers of Greek had an effect on Greek at all grammatical levels, strengthening existing and ongoing endogenous changes by creating substantial contact-induced variation in phonology as well as in morphosyntax and even phraseology. The intense language contact suggests, in my opinion, that language dynamics of this period follow the resilience theory, where various different phases of the adaptive cycle can be simultaneous, as almost all possible varieties of Greek, from historical High Attic to Multiethnic Greek are in use.
Translated title of the contributionL2 kreikka roomalaisajan Egyptissä. Kielikontaktit voimakkaita roomalaisissa sotilasleireissä
Original languageEnglish
Article number20190009
JournalJournal of Historical Sociolinguistics
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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