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Title: Coptic interference in the syntax of Greek letters from Egypt
Author: Fendel, Victoria Beatrix Maria
ISNI:       0000 0004 7232 8005
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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Egypt in the early Byzantine period was a bilingual country where Greek and Egyptian (Coptic) were used alongside each other. Historical studies as well as linguistic studies of the phonology and lexicon of early Byzantine Greek in Egypt testify to this situation. In order to describe the linguistic traces the language-contact situation left behind in individuals' linguistic output, this thesis analyses the syntax of early Byzantine Greek texts from Egypt. The primary object of interest is bilingual interference in the syntax of verbs, adverbial phrases, discourse organising devices and formulaic sections. The thesis is based on a corpus of Greek and Coptic private letters on papyrus, all of which date from the fourth to mid-seventh centuries, originate from Egypt and belong to bilingual, Greek-Coptic, papyrus archives. The data is analysed with a particular focus on three interrelated questions: (1) What kinds of deviations from the standard pattern appear and to what extent can language-internal confusion account for them? (2) How are instances of language-internal confusion and bilingual interference distributed over the selected syntactic domains? (3) Do deviations from the standard accumulate in certain letters or archives belonging to the corpus and do they correlate with additional indicators of bilingualism such as code-switching or circumstantial information about writers? In addition to answering these questions, the thesis seeks to explain the observed distributions. The results obtained from this study suggest that bilingual interference is linked to the way writers assimilated structures. In fact, there is a marked difference between deviating syntactic structures in non-formulaic and formulaic contexts. The study further suggests that bilingual interference does not affect every domain of syntax to the same degree. The degree of complexity of the syntactic structure in question as well as the degree of divergence from the corresponding Coptic structure seem to play a role.
Supervisor: Willi, Andreas Sponsor: University of Oxford
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Classics ; Coptic ; learning methods ; language contact ; bilingual interference ; usage-based model ; post-classical Greek