Doctor of Philosophy, Associate Researcher, Institute of German Studies, University of Hamburg, Germany, Hamburg
THE PROCESSES OF TRANSSEMANTISATION WITHIN THE LANGUAGE CONTACT BETWEEN MIDDLE LOW GERMAN AND OLD RUSSIAN
Between the 13th and 16th centuries, words and phrases from Old Russian enriched the Middle Low German vocabulary just as Middle Low German borrowings expanded the Old Russian vocabulary. This can easily be explained by intensive trade and language contact between the Hanseatic League and Northwest Russia (Novgorod, Pskov, etc.). In Middle Low German, for example, we find numerous terms taken from Old Russian for occupational titles, weights, monetary units, trade goods, ships, but also room names. In this context too, the importance of the transfer of set phrases (Germ.: Formeln) from the Novgorod document language (Germ.: Urkundensprache) should not be overlooked. In the described language contact situation, however, Middle Low German functioned both as a recipient language and as a source language. Up to now, the terms for imported goods, units of measurement and monetary units borrowed from Middle Low German have been, almost exclusively, the focus of research in Russian and Slavic studies. How and to what extent the semantic meaning of the borrowed lexemes was changed during the transfer is the question this paper attempts to answer.
The language contact phenomena are considered primarily from the semantic aspect and analysed and interpreted in both directions. The theoretical basis for this study is the so-called theory of contacteme of the Serbian linguist Jovan Ajduković, who distinguishes between three degrees of transsemantisation (free, partial and zero degree) within the semantic adaptation of borrowed lexemes. The comparison of the transsemantisation processes in both directions can make a valuable contribution to research on the Baltic language contact between Middle Low German and Old Russian in the Hanseatic period and possibly open up a new perspective for loanword research.
В период XIII-XVI вв. отдельные слова, а также некоторые словосочения и устойчивые фразы древнерусского языка обогатили лексику средненижненемецкого языка, в то же время средненижненемецкие заимствования расширили лексикон древнерусского языка. Данный факт легко объясняется интенсивными торговыми и языковыми контактами между Ганзейским союзом и Северо-Западной Русью (Новгород, Псков и т.д.). Так, в средненижненемецком языке мы находим множество терминов для обозначения чинов, мер веса, денежных единиц, торговых товаров, кораблей, а также помещений, заимствованных из древнерусского языка. При этом нельзя упускать из виду значимость заимствованных формул (нем. Formeln) из языка новгородских грамот (нем. Urkundensprache). Следует заметить, что в рассматриваемой ситуации языкового контакта средненижненемецкий язык выполнял функцию не только принимающего языка, но и языка-источника. До настоящего времени термины, обозначающие импортируемые товары, а также единицы измерения и денежные единицы, заимствованные из средненижненемецкого языка, были почти исключительно предметом исследования в области русистики и славистики. В рамках данной статьи автор попытается ответить на вопрос, в какой степени значение заимствованных лексем было изменено в процессе трансфера.
В настоящием исследовании феномены языкового контакта будут рассмотрены, прежде всего, в семантическом аспекте, проанализированы и интерпретированы в обоих направлениях интересующего нас языкового контакта. Теоретической основой для описания выше указанных феноменов служит так называемая теория контактемы сербского лингвиста Йована Айдуковича, который, в свою очередь, различает свободную, частичную и нулевую транссемантизацию в рамках семантической адаптации заимствованных лексем. Сравнение процессов транссемантизации в обоих направлениях языкового контакта может внести ценный вклад в исследование языкового контакта между средненижненемецким и древнерусским языком в балтийском регионе в Ганзейский период, а также, возможно, открыть новую перспективу для исследования заимствований.
Keywords: Middle Low German, Old Russian, language contact, adaptation, theory of contacteme, theory of activation and copying, transsemantisation, borrowing, language integration, semantics, historical semantics, historical linguistics, history of the German language, Middle Ages, Hanseatic League, Ruthenia.
Ключевые слова: средненижненемецкий язык, древнерусский язык, языковой контакт, адаптация, теория контактемы, теория приблизительного копирования и активации, транссемантизация, заимствование, языковая интеграция, семантика, историческая семантика, историческое языкознание, история немецкого языка, Средневековье, Ганза, Ганзейский союз, Русь.
Though not a novel form of research, language contact as a linguistic phenomenon is certainly of great academic interest. The first examples of mixed language use can already be found in antiquity. Further on in the Middle Ages, codeswitching phenomena were noticeable in sermons and philosophical texts . For several centuries, academic studies have been devoted to the influence of one language on another. Initially, the focus was more on loanwords, but also on sound changes or selected syntactic phenomena. The theoretical framework for language contact research, however, was developed significantly later, in the 1950s, in the publications of Uriel Weinreich  and Einar Haugen . In the past decades, the size of the published scientific literature on language contact and language change has increased exponentially. All these works have one thing in common, namely, the presupposition that wherever language contact is found, certain changes occur on one or both sides of the languages involved. The consequence of this presupposition is that we have to deal with language contact phenomena on one or more levels of language, up to language change, language death and language loss.
There has probably never been a country in the world that has had no language contact. For even where there are no bilingual or multilingual communities, trade and diplomacy automatically bring language contact with them. The Hanseatic League, also called Hansa, for example, brought North German and Northwest Russian merchants (from Novgorod, Pskov, Smolensk and Polotsk) into close direct language contact. This clearly explains the fact that between the 13th and 16th centuries, words and phrases from Old Russian (ORuss.) expanded the Middle Low German (MLG) vocabulary just as MLG borrowings found their way into ORuss. In both cases, the contribution of the respective source language to the linguistic history of the recipient language cannot be underestimated. So far, the abundance of lexical language contact phenomena has not been sufficiently investigated – from both a Germanic and a Slavic perspective – although numerous attempts have been made to systematically research the two directions of language contact. At this point, reference should be made to the older studies by Kiparsky , Vlasto , Gardiner  and Thomas  on the lexical borrowings from MLG into ORuss., and in the opposite direction to the older publications by Goetz [20; 21] and Koppmann , but especially to the modern studies on the Hanseatic League in Novgorod and London by Squires  and by Squires and Ferdinand . If one takes a closer look at the MLG borrowings from ORuss., one notices language contact situation-induced domains, such as: names for country-specific monetary units, measurements and weight units, names for Russian trade goods, occupational titles and terms referring to persons. In ORuss. sources, original MLG names for imported goods and lexemes from the domain of shipping and maritime traffic can be found.
The research corpus of the current study consists of lexicalised borrowings that have found their way into the corresponding dictionaries. The choice was made to use the explanatory dictionaries of the respective language stages [see below] and consult the etymological dictionaries [14; 26; 28; 31; 38; cf. further 13] to ensure the standard of the research. This was done in order to verify whether the lexemes are actually borrowings from the respective source languages and not from, for example, the older language stages (i. e., from West Germanic or the related North Germanic / Old Norse for the ORuss. language and from older Slavic dialects instead of ORuss. for MLG). Thus, for MLG, the Middle Low German Dictionary by Schiller and Lübben  and the Concise Middle Low German Dictionary founded by Agathe Lasch and Conrad Borchling  serve as main source material; and for ORuss., the Dictionary of Old Russian in ten volumes developed at the Russian Academy of Sciences  and the Materials for a Dictionary of Old Russian per Written Records in three volumes  form the basis of this study. All four dictionaries belong more or less to the type of reference dictionaries (Germ.: Belegwörterbücher), whereby the references are mostly kept very short.
The dictionaries have been deliberately chosen as the main source rather than a bilingual text corpus – which is still yet to be created – in order to avoid the danger of treating occasional language contact phenomena as lexicalised borrowings. It is clear that a text-based analysis would be conceivable and even desirable, yet it would not be compatible with a dictionary-based analysis. In the first instance, it must be determined whether such a historical linguistic analysis is in principle viable and what particularities one must be aware of.
After a double review of the selected dictionaries with the help of the relevant secondary research sources, a total of 86 lexicalised ORuss. borrowings in MLG and 37 MLG borrowings in ORuss. could be identified; these borrowings form the concrete basis of this study. At first sight, it might be surprising why there are half as many MLG borrowings in ORuss. as vice versa, especially if one remembers the corresponding passage from “Die Hanse in Novgorod” by C. Squires, which states that direct MLG borrowings in Russian were more numerous than the opposite-directed transferences [34, p. 14]. However, this is only true for Russian in general, because the fundamental Slavic studies include both the borrowings of the pre-Petrine period, and, in some cases, of the Petrine period even up to as late as the 19th century. Another problem that Squires also points out is the difficulty of differentiating between borrowed words from MLG and Middle Low Dutch. If one reduces Thomas’ word list to the most reliable lexemes, the final result is only a list of 37 lexemes instead of about 190 .
Differentiation in categories according to domain
As a first approximation, the once identified borrowings can be categorised into some semantic domains. As expected, most of the ORuss. borrowings in MLG belong to the domain “Occupational titles, persons and titles” (26 entries), “Trade goods” (12 entries), followed by “Diplomatic and trade relations” (9 entries) and furthermore 7 lexemes from the domain “Monetary units”, respectively 3 lexemes from the domains “Measurement units”, “House”, “Toponyms” as well as 2 lexemes from the domain “Shipping and maritime transport”. The remaining single entries can be grouped together under “Diverse” (21 entries). In the MLG borrowings in ORuss. group, the semantic domain “Trade goods” also plays a major role. This semantic domain is represented by 12 lexemes and is followed by 5 borrowings that represent references for German rulers, as well as 5 lexemes from the domain “Shipping and maritime transport”. There are in total 4 entries in the semantic domain “Measurement units” and 10 entries in the domain “Diverse”.
With regard to the remarks made in the introduction, the following four questions can be formulated for this study, which are interconnected and which I will try to answer in the conclusion:
1. How can the borrowings be classified and what is the most detailed way to do this? Which theoretical model describes the borrowed words most precisely?
2. What happens during the borrowing process at all levels of linguistic description? How does one avoid generalisation in the study during the analysis phase?
3. Considering the most common model of description of borrowed lexemes, the question arises whether a qualitative-quantitative analysis at the semantic level has advantages over the combined morphological-semantic analysis of borrowings. If there are indeed advantages, what are they?
4. What similarities and what differences can be identified when comparing the two directions of language contact between MLG and ORuss.? Finally, what could be the motivation behind these differences?
Structure of the paper
First of all, the most common typological classification of borrowings in the German-speaking area must be discussed in order to identify the existing problem areas and express some points of criticism. As an alternative theoretical model, Jovan Ajduković’s so-called theory of contacteme is to be presented, before the analysis, interpretation and presentation of the results can take place. To conclude, the obtained results are to be briefly summarised.
Betz’ classification of loan influences
In “Lexikon der Sprachwissenschaft” by Hadumod Bußmann, the term ‘borrowing, loan’ refers to the process as well as the result of adopting of a linguistic expression or a linguistic structure from a foreign language into the mother tongue [12, p. 164]. In this process, the linguistic expression is adopted into the mother tongue mostly in cases where there is no term or designation (i. e., signifier) for newly created concepts in one’s language [ibid.]. According to Betz, it can be distinguished between lexical and semantic borrowings [12, p. 165].
In the case of lexical borrowing (Germ.: lexikalische Entlehnung), the recipient language takes over both the ‘shell’ (i. e., signifier) and the content (i. e., signified). Depending on the degree of integration or assimilation into the recipient language, the word adopted from the source language is designated either as a foreign word (Germ.: Fremdwort) or as a loanword in the narrower sense (Germ.: Lehnwort i. e. S.). Borrowings that have been completely assimilated into the recipient language in terms of phonetics, writing and inflection are called loanwords in the narrower sense. The term ‘loanword in the broader sense’ (Germ.: Lehnwort i. w. S.) is used as a generic term for foreign words and loanwords in the narrower sense.
Figure 1. Reconstruction of Betz’ classification of direct influences [30, p. 13]
In the case of semantic borrowing (Germ.: semantische Entlehnung), also called loan coinage (Germ.: Lehnprägung), the recipient language takes over exclusively the foreign-language concept and expresses it with its own phonological, morphological, syntactic and semantic resources. The types of semantic borrowing include loan meaning (Germ.: Lehnbedeutung), loan formation (Germ.: Lehnbildung), loan shaping (Germ.: Lehnformung), loan creation (Germ.: Lehnschöpfung), loan translation (Germ.: Lehnübersetzung) and loan rendition (Germ.: Lehnübertragung). In this model the term ‘loan formation’ is the generic term for loan translations, loan renditions as well as loan creations [11, p. 128; cf. further 10].
Figure 2. Reconstruction of Betzʼ classification of indirect loan influences [30, p. 13]
Distribution according to Betz’ model
In the selected research corpus, semantic borrowings occur extremely rarely, namely once as a loan translation, once as a loan rendition in the MLG subcorpus and once as a loan rendition in the ORuss. subcorpus. Lexical borrowings are present in both subcorpora. In the MLG subcorpus, loanwords in the narrower sense are represented twice as often as foreign words (54:25), and in the ORuss. subcorpus six times as often (31:5). Five MLG borrowings could not be included in this system, as they are examples for semantic widening (Germ.: Bedeutungserweiterung) of already existing MLG lexemes influenced by the ORuss. settings. Which include e. g., hērtoch for ORuss. тысѧцкыи ‘(Novgorod) military leader of the city troops and juridical or commercial official’, bormê(i)ster and borchgrēve for посадникъ, köninc for кънѧзь with the meaning ‘Grand Duke of Moscow’.
Figure 3. Distribution according to Betz’ model
In many cases, however, a sharp distinction between the non-assimilated foreign words and the assimilated loanwords in the narrower sense doesn’t seem possible. After a more detailed subdivision, the diagram looks somewhat different (Figure 4).
Figure 4. Redistribution according to Betz’ model
As can be seen, a further subdivision into foreign words, peripheral foreign words (which could possibly be evaluated as loanwords in the narrower sense), peripheral loanwords in the narrower sense (which have been minimally assimilated) and actual loanwords in the narrower sense has been opted for. In addition, after a further differentiation, 15 MLG borrowings have been designated as hybrid phenomena. These are no longer counted as loanwords in the narrower sense, because they are somewhere between loanwords in the broader sense and loan coinages. These include particularly strongly assimilated forms and further developments of the original ORuss. borrowings as well as hybrid phenomena in which the first compositional element is borrowed and the second is genuinely MLG (lodienman ‘skipper on a cargo ship on the Neva River’, nouwgārdesvārer ‘skipper and merchant from the Hanseatic League who trades with Novgorod’, kalitenmāker ‘maker of bags’, potklêtvinder ‘overseer of the storage rooms in Peterhof’, vortolkinge ‘translation, interpretation’).
After this analysis, the results show that actual foreign words are almost non-existent in both subcorpora and that no hybrid phenomena can be found in ORuss. The MLG peripheral foreign words are found with a similar frequency as loanwords in the narrower sense. Nevertheless, it is difficult to draw a clear conclusion from this presentation as to the similarities and differences in the mutual borrowing process.
Before proceeding with further analysis, however, it is necessary to clarify with a few examples what differentiates foreign words, peripheral foreign words, peripheral loanwords in the narrower sense and actual loanwords in the narrower sense. This paper regards the MLG lexeme tolk ‘translator, interpreter’ as a foreign word because it fully corresponds to the ORuss. тълкъ. The MLG lexeme klêt ‘little house, storehouse, store’ can be traced back to the ORuss. клить, so we can assume a minor vowel change. However, there is further complexity because one of the Northwest Russian variants has the spelling клѣть or клеть. As mentioned before, loanwords with minimal assimilation phenomena, e. g., suffix and suffix weakening, are counted as peripheral loanwords in the narrower sense (cf. MLG tēmenitze ‘prison’ < ORuss. тѣмьница) in this paper. Likewise, assimilated forms with a bigger distance to the original lexeme are called loanwords in the narrower sense (cf. MLG knes(a), knese ‘prince, duke’ < ORuss. кънѧзь).
As has been seen, Betz’ model subdivides borrowings into different types, however, certain types fail to be included in the analysis. Moreover, Betz’ typology does not take into account salient adaptation phenomena such as loss of partial meanings (Germ.: Teilbedeutung) during the borrowing process or minimal phonological adaptations such as depalatalisation of consonants or genus changes. These gaps in Betz’ model have led me to search for an alternative model to describe borrowing at all language levels.
The alternative solution rises from the so-called theory of contacteme of the Serbian slavist and language contact researcher Jovan Ajduković [cf. 1–9]. Ajduković assumed that it is possible to describe every borrowing with the help of a standardised and simplified metalanguage. Ajduković was not the first to deal with the formal representation of borrowing processes and results. He made use of the earlier studies on anglicisms in Serbian and Croatian by Rudolf Filipović [cf. 15–18], who, already in the second half of the 20th century, proved, reviewed and expanded Haugen’s and Weinreich’s three-stage adaptation model (model, compromise replica, replica) and Hope’s theory of three-stage semantic adaptation (zero semantic extension, restriction of meaning, expansion of meaning) [cf. 22; 40; 23]. Ajduković reinterpreted, innovated and further differentiated Filipović’s theory of transfer of lexical borrowing [cf. 16; 17] and elaborated a special standardised metalanguage for loan and adaptation analysis. In doing so, he introduced his theory of approximate copying and activation of contact-lexemes, the so-called Ajduković’s theory of contacteme [cf. 1; 3–5; 7].
Within the theory of contacteme framework, “[a] contacteme [emphasis in original], or the general unit of contactology is a quantum of structured knowledge about the dominant language influence” [5, p. 93]. It is further stated that “[a] contacteme is each linguistic element formed in a particular dominant contact situation through the activation or mapping of latent elements and empty places” [5, p. 93]. Therefore, the elements of the source language are not copied into the recipient language, but adapted on each separate level of language.
On the one hand, the activation mechanism is connected with the fact that the ‘latent elements’ exist in the recipient language. This means, there is a kind of inner potential of the recipient language or a corresponding element of the recipient language, which is currently in a passive state, but can be activated under the influence of the source language (e. g., borchgrēve, bormê(i)ster, grôtvörste to indicate Russian power holders). On the other hand, the adaptation mechanism is connected with the fact that ‘empty places’ exist in the recipient language. In the language contact situation, these ‘empty places’ are replaced by elements of the source language that are modified to varying degrees (e. g., arsin ‘arshine’, kune ‘kuna coin’, lodie ‘boat, rowboat, sailboar’).
Ajduković introduces some terms to differentiate between contactemes at different levels of language description [4; 5, p. 92–93]. For example, the contactemes at the phonological level are called ‘contact-phoneme’ (Russ.: контактофонема), ‘contacteme in distribution of sounds’ (also called ‘distributive contacteme’; Russ.: контактема распределения звуков) and ‘prosodic contacteme’ (also called ‘contact-prosodeme’; контактема ударения). The contacteme at the graphematic level is called ‘contact-grapheme’ (Russ.: контактографема). At the level of word formation Ajduković distinguishes the ‘derivational contacteme’ (also called ‘contact-derivateme’; Russ.: словообразовательная контактема) and the ‘contact-morpheme’ (Russ.: контактоморфема). At the morphological level Ajduković employs the term ‘morphological contacteme’ (also called ‘contact-grammeme’; Russ.: морфологическая контактема). The ‘semantic contacteme’ (also called ‘contact-seme’; Russ.: контактосема) is used at the semantic level. The contacteme at the stylistic level is called the ‘stylistic contacteme’ (also called ‘contact-styleme’; Russ.: контактостилема). To describe the adaptation at the syntactic level Ajduković uses the term ‘syntactic contacteme’ (also called ‘contact-syntacteme’; Russ.: контактосинтаксема). Finally, at the lexical level the term ‘lexical ism’ is introduced (Russ.: лексический изм). These contactemes are treated separately from each other so that a qualitative-quantitative analysis is possible at each level of language description.
Figure 5 shows the header of the dictionary article for the contact-lexeme ‘чевапчичи’ (Engl.: cevapcici). The processes that took place during the adaptation of the Serbian lexeme into Russian at all levels of language description can be seen below:
Figure 5. Header of the dictionary article for the contact-lexeme ‘чевапчичи’ 
The individual processes that take place during adaptation are called: ‘transgraphemisation’, ‘transaccentuation’, ‘transphonemisation’, ‘transderivation’, ‘transmorphemisation’, ‘transmorphologisation’, ‘transsemantisation’, ‘lexical-stylistic adaptation’, ‘transconceptualisation’ and ‘transsyntactisation’ [4; 5, p. 94–97]. Each process can have a specific manifestation, depending on to what degree the corresponding contacteme has been modified.
Transsemantisation according to Ajduković’s model
The methodological approach to the analysis of the transsemantisation processes is a combination of the constituent analysis and the contrastive method. In order to be able to study the contact-semes, individual meanings and partial meanings up to semantic decomposites are extracted. In other words, the meanings of the contact-lexeme under investigation are broken down according to certain parameters in order to identify integral (S0) and potentially missing contact-semes (S1, S#) as well as further semantic transformations as an expression of linguistic innovations. A distinction is made between the following degrees of change that have taken place: ‘zero-transsemantisation’, ‘partial transsemantisation’ and ‘free transsemantisation’ [5, p. 96–97; 7].
In the case of zero-transsemantisation (S0), the original meaning (or meanings) is (are) completely retained (MLG mēdewas < ORuss. медовыи воскъ ‘honey wax’). In the partial transsemantisation case (S1), there is a partial quantitative or/and qualitative expansion or restriction of the original meaning. Ajduković distinguishes between contact-lexemes with a restriction of meaning in number (S1Nm) and with a restriction of meaning in the semantic field (S1Fm; S1Fr) and with an expansion of meaning in number (S2Nm) and with an expansion of meaning in the semantic field (S2Fr) [5, p. 96]. The following lexeme underwent partial transsemantisation: MLG schöps ‘castrated ram, mutton’ < ORuss. скопьць ‘castrated ram; castrated man, eunuch; (male) virgin’. When the semantics of a contact-lexeme is different from the semantics of the original word, e. g., there is an extreme expansion, more rarely an extreme restriction of meaning, it is a case of free transsemantisation (S#): MLG letuse ‘Russian fur’ < ORuss. лѣтучии ‘flying (squirrel)’.
Distribution according to Ajduković’s transsemantisation model
As can be seen from Figure 6, partial transsemantisation dominates in both cases in the chosen research corpus. Approximately two thirds of the MLG and slightly more ORuss. borrowings were adapted in this way. Slightly less than one third of all borrowings underwent free transsemantisation. Zero-transsemantisation is represented in the MLG subcorpus by five contact-lexemes and is absent in the ORuss. subcorpus.
Figure 6. Distribution according to Ajduković’s transsemantisation model
If we superimpose both distribution results, the following distribution pattern emerges (Table 2).
Borrowing distribution according to Betz’ model vs. Ajduković’s transsemantisation model
Table 2. (continued)
Borrowing distribution according to Betz’ model vs. Ajduković’s transsemantisation model
This table highlights that the hybrid phenomena were exclusively freely transsemantised. No less interesting is the distribution of partially and freely transsemantised borrowings of peripheral foreign words in MLG and loanwords in the narrower sense in ORuss.
Although this rough comparison clearly shows that semantic transformations that take place during adaptation are not congruent with the morphological transformations, which we can partly gain from Betz’ model, even Ajduković’s model is not sufficient to make precise statements regarding the similarities and/or differences of the borrowing directions. For this reason, it is necessary to introduce further parameters for a clearer classification. These refer exclusively to partial transsemantisation, since, as mentioned earlier, zero-transsemantisation is subject to neither expansion nor restriction of the original spectrum of meaning and free transsemantisation is a predictor of an extreme expansion in the majority of cases.
The spectrum of meaning can change in both the quantitative and the qualitative sense. In quantitative terms, the spectrum of meaning can increase or decrease without further transformation. In such cases, Ajduković speaks of expansion of meaning or of its restriction. To indicate these transformations, I use the abbreviations ‘Ne’ and ‘Nr’, where ‘N’ stands for the quantitative change, ‘e’ for expansion and ‘r’ for restriction. In qualitative terms, the semantic field of the original semantic model can also expand or restrict in the recipient language. Therefore, we speak of expansion of the semantic field or its restriction. The corresponding abbreviations are ‘Fe’ and ‘Fr’, where ‘F’ stands for the (semantic) field. In addition, the abbreviations ‘Gen’ and ‘Sp’ for generalisation and specification respectively have been introduced. Generalisation is understood as the transition from a subordinate to a superordinate term (e. g., tulip > flower) and specification as the opposite process (e. g., tree > birch). Here, specification also refers to a qualitative expansion of the (partial) meaning, for example, through specifying properties.
The abbreviations for the quantitative change as well as abbreviations to indicate expansion or restriction of the semantic field can appear either alone or in combination with each other. Generalisation and specification accompany the former parameters or are missing if not applicable, as can be demonstrated by a series of examples from the MLG subcorpus.
The MLG lexeme tēmenitze ‘prison’ is an adaptation of the ORuss. model тѣмьница. Both lexemes differ from one another purely in quantitative terms. The meanings ‘burial place’ and ‘collection box’ were lost during the borrowing process. Thus, the process can be described as S1Nr.
The ORuss. lexeme низовьць served as a model for the MLG nisowere. The ORuss. lexeme denotes ‘inhabitants of the area by the lower reaches of a river’ and refers primarily to the Lower Volga – the river is not named, however – i. e., among others, the Nizhny Novgorod region. In the recipient language there is no quantitative change, but there are two qualitative changes. On the one hand, a restriction of meaning in the semantic field of the contact-lexeme can be found, on the other hand, a specification also occurs. This can be represented as a combination of two parameters: S1Fr+S1Sp.
The MLG lexeme tassake goes back to the ORuss. model тесакъ and means ‘a kind of scimitar without a hilt with a finger hole at the end of the blade, dusack’. The source language defines тесакъ as a ‘bare weapon’ or a ‘thrusting weapon of a compatriot, short sabre, pallash with a thick hilt’. Parallel to the quantitative restriction, the partial meaning is specified by additional information ‘without a hilt with a finger hole at the end of the blade’. Thus, the semantic adaptation of the contact-lexeme can be described as S1Nr + S1Sp.
Since any parameter combination is potentially possible, the number of permutations is large. If one excludes duplications caused by transposed parameters from the calculations, the result is the following. For one-member changes, a total of only 4 variants are possible (Formula 1), for two-member changes the are already 14 variants (Formula 2) and for three-member changes the result is 24 (Formula 3). For four-member changes, no such simple formula can be represented, so, as an example, a formula for four-member changes with Ne as the first member is given (Formula 4). That makes 29 possible variants. These theoretical calculations, however, do not represent the linguistic reality, as can be seen from Table 3. The actual number of the parameter combinations in the selected research corpus is significantly smaller.
Types of partial transsemantisation (S1) represented in the research corpus
In the MLG subcorpus, a total of 21 combinations are represented, of which 2 are one-member changes, both of which are quantitative in nature. 7 are two-member changes, 5 are three-member changes, 4 are four-member changes and 3 are five-member changes. It is quite interesting that the most frequently represented combinations are of a restricting nature, both in quantitative and qualitative terms.
In the ORuss. subcorpus, only 16 combinations have been identified: 2 one-member changes, 5 two-member changes, 4 three-member changes and 4 five-member changes. Here, the most prominent positions are occupied by the two-member changes Ne+Sp and Nr+Sp.
For the purpose of clarification, some types have been selected to illustrate how the parameter combinations function within the MLG subcorpus:
S1Nr: The MLG kalite for ‘bag, pouch’ goes back to the ORuss. калита ‘bag, pouch, tobacco pouch, hitching bag, feed bag’. During the adaptation process, it underwent a quantitative restriction of meaning.
S1Nr+S1Fr: The ORuss. цыгане (pl.) with the meanings ‘(male) gypsy, cheat, swindler, horse dealer, deceiver, middleman’ developed into the MLG noun sîgêner with the only meaning ‘(male) gypsy’. On the one hand, a quantitative restriction of meanings took place during the adaptation, on the other hand, a simultaneous restriction of meaning in the semantic field is to register: MLG sîgêner can be used exclusively to denote gypsies and cannot describe persons with a generally negative connotation.
S1Nr+S1Sp: For the MLG lexeme quas with the meaning ‘a sour alcoholic drink, kvass’, the ORuss. квасъ ‘ferment; a special sour drink’ has been taken as a model. During the adaptation process, the range of meanings was reduced on the one side, and on the other, a new characteristic – ‘alcoholic’ – was added, which specified the original partial meaning.
S1Nr+S1Fr+S1Sp: The MLG noun lodie from ORuss. лодья, лодия can serve as an example of a three-member change. In this case, besides a quantitative restriction of meanings (S1Nr), a simultaneous restriction of meaning in the semantic field (S1Fr) with geographical specification of meaning (S1Sp) can be observed.
S1Nr+S1Fe+S1Gen+S1Fr+S1Sp: The ORuss. намѣстьникъ underwent a complex semantic adaptation. Firstly, the quantitative restriction of meaning (S1Nr) is salient. Secondly, the partial meaning ‘representative’ expands the semantic field (S1Fe) with a simultaneous generalisation (S1Gen). Then, the partial meaning ‘governor of the Russian Grand Duke’ narrows the meaning (S1Fr), whereby the addition ‘of the Russian Grand Duke’ represents a specialisation (S1Sp), because originally, ORuss. намѣстьникъ can be used not only to describe a statal power holder, but also a certain ecclesiastical authority.
At this point, it also seems fruitful to compare the paired combinations of the obligatory-obligatory and the obligatory-facultative parameters for both subcorpora in order to establish the similarities and differences of the results obtained.
Parameter combination distribution
In the MLG subcorpus, the restricting combinations Nr+Fr and Nr+Sp are clearly dominant. The dominance of the parameter combination Nr+Sp is also obvious for the ORuss. subcorpus. The difference is that, in the ORuss. subcorpus, the combination Ne+Sp is also strongly represented, whereas in the MLG subcorpus it is represented to a lesser degree.
Finally, it is worthwhile taking a look at the distribution of the parameter combinations on the dominant borrowing types and comparing the two theoretical models again. In the following overview table (Table 5), the less significant individual instances have been marked with an asterisk to mark the difference between the two borrowing directions clearer.
Parameter combination distribution according to the dominating borrowings types according to Betz’ model
Table 5 shows that the restricting combinations are typical for the peripheral foreign words and loanwords in the narrower sense in the MLG subcorpus. Meaning-expanding quantitative-qualitative combinations rarely occur. Instead, they appear more frequently with MLG loanwords in the narrower sense in the ORuss. subcorpus. Meaning-restricting parameter combinations are found in peripheral and loanwords in the narrower sense, but not in peripheral foreign words.
In summary, borrowings can be categorised and then analysed in particular detail using a catalogue of parameters at all levels of language description including the semantic level.
Furthermore, the attempt has been made to make it clear that an analysis, in the style of Ajduković’s theory of contacteme, allows a uniform description of the borrowing processes, a categorisation of the corresponding language contact phenomena and their peculiarities, as well as their representation as a combination of certain parameters. Thus, enabling both qualitative and quantitative analysis. This has been illustrated using the example of the processes of transsemantisation.
It has been demonstrated, that MLG has a tendency to restrict (partial) meanings in the semantic adaptation of ORuss. lexemes, especially in combination with their simultaneous specification. The most prominent examples in this context are the two- and three-member changes: restriction of the meaning(s) with a simultaneous restriction of the semantic field and restriction of the meaning(s) with a simultaneous restriction of the semantic field as well as specification of the meaning. A possible reason for MLG to prefer a restriction of (partial) meanings could be a general tendency towards a selective approach to the adoption of foreign-language vocabulary.
It can also be assumed that this tendency can be explained with the pragmatic orientation and a high(er) degree of rational objectivity (cf. Table 1) of the speakers involved. It must be taken into consideration that the German community of speakers involved in the language contact situation were traders whose main concern was trade and the profit associated with it. It seems reasonable to conclude that such borrowing mechanisms are controlled by the principle of economy: only (partial) meanings of the ORuss. lexical models have been adopted that appeared to be necessary for immediate communication. With this in mind, the language of the Hanseatic merchants chose the path of least resistance. Overall, it can be stated that MLG shows greater openness towards ORuss. as a source language than in the opposite direction of the language contact.
ORuss. seems to have found a balance between expansion and restriction of meanings in the process of the semantic adaptation of MLG lexemes. In the ORuss. subcorpus, the combinations of expansion of meaning with a simultaneous specification and restriction of meaning with a simultaneous specification clearly dominate. This may possibly indicate that the ORuss. speakers were actually interested in integrating the MLG lexemes into their native language and for this reason gave them new meanings and thus gave them a new function. This is to be seen in contrast to ORuss. borrowings in MLG that can be considered pragmatically conditioned word adoptions. Conversely, MLG borrowings in ORuss. seem to be rather ‘luxury or novel phenomena’. It has also to be taken into account that the direct language contact took place in the territory of Ruthenia. The hypothetical reason for such differences can therefore be assumed to be the different social conditions of the speakers, but also other extralinguistic influencing factors such as the overall socio-cultural conditions, legal and religious differences local to the area.
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