Dialectal Variation and Accommodation in Northern Azerbaijani

Matthew Zaslansky, PhD Student, UC San Diego, ARISC Fellow

October 3, 2022, 6:30-8:00 PM, Baku time

Overview: Azerbaijan is home to a large variety of linguistic varieties (both languages and dialects) that are not commonly taught locally or internationally. In this talk I highlight the importance of better understanding dialectal variation in Northern Azerbaijan. I introduce a recent ongoing study in Baku and Shaki which uses the framework of communication accommodation theory to explore the hypothesis that speakers in urban environments–perhaps differing from rural populations–more often come face-to-face with strangers, and unconsciously adjust various aspects of their intonation, word-choice, or sentence structure to accommodate to unfamiliar interlocutors, allowing them to create more favorable impressions (Giles & Powesland 1975; Trudgill 1999: 197; Dorian 2010). The strength of a local dialect may thus be correlated with a lesser degree of accommodation. This project also considers the vitality of the Shaki dialect in particular, addressing a gap in recent understandings of linguistic variation in Azerbaijan. 

Speaker: Matthew Zaslansky is a PhD candidate in the Linguistics Department at the University of California, San Diego and an ARISC research fellow. He works mostly with word-formation and linguistic typology, mostly with the local languages of the Caucasus. Matthew has been visiting Azerbaijan since 2012 and has also worked in Georgia, Daghestan, and Uzbekistan. 

Funding for the ARISC fellowship is provided by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) through a grant to the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC). This event is sponsored by the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). Lectures are free and open to the public.

*ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, citizenship, or status as a covered veteran.