The official EU languages Finnish and Estonian have a number of close relatives, the minor Finnic languages, namely Kven, Meänkieli, Karelian, Veps, Ingrian, Vote and Livonian, which are spoken by relatively small groups of people in Norway, Sweden, Russia and Latvia and which range in number of speakers from ca. 30 000 (Karelian) to 5 (Livonian). Most English-language information on Finnic languages is restricted to Finnish and Estonian, and therefore this course introduces the specific features of the other Finnic languages; the course can be profitably followed by students with no knowledge of any Finnic language, though advanced students with some knowledge of Estonian and/or Finnish will stand to gain more from it.
An overview is given of the pertinent handbooks and monographs, of the position of Finnic within Uralic, of the geographical position of the Finnic languages, of various proposed evolutionary trees of Finnic, and of the typical features of the Finnic languages. This is followed by more detailed overviews of each language, where typical phonetic, morphological, syntactical and lexical features that differentiate the Finnic languages from each other are examined in more detail. As all speakers of the minor Finnic languages are bilingual the language-specific overviews are followed by overarching surveys of language contact in the minor Finnic-speaking areas.
The emphasis of the course lies in gaining a reading knowledge of all the minor Finnic languages and a greater awareness of the wide variety of distinct features to be found therein, owing to both their unique inherited structure and to later contact with other languages.
Specific skills tested include phonetic transcription of previously unknown languages and the application of contact linguistics theories to bi- and multilingual contact situations.
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