A Report on Dialectological Fieldwork in Northwestern Croatia: The Croatian–Slovene Dialect Continuum

Grant Lundberg, Brigham Young University

One of the more interesting questions in Western South Slavic dialectology is the relationship, both historical and modern, between the dialects of the Slovene and the Kajkavian Croatian speech territories. The debate over the origin and genetic relationship between these dialect regions goes back to Dobrovsky in the early 19th century and was carried on by Beliae, Ramovs and Ivsi . More recent contributions to this debate have been made by Iviae and Vermeer. (For a detailed summary of this question see Greenberg's book, A Historical Phonology of the Slovene Language.)

Modern Slavic linguists agree that the dialects of the Slovene and the Kajkavian speech territories are part of a dialect continuum with various isoglosses and isogloss bundles representing innovations and archaisms. Although much is known about these two dialect groups, little is known about the characteristics of the local village dialects along the Slovene– Croatian national frontier. Most dialect maps have been drawn without a great deal of information from the borderland dialects. This is very important region for the study of the relationship between Slovene and Kajkavian. Dialect descriptions from this area could help answer questions about the interaction between national and linguistic boundaries. They might help clarify the location of isoglosses that represent vocalic developments that are considered to be definitively Kajkavian or Slovene. These dialects could also contribute to our understanding of the process of tone loss because Styrian and Pannonian Slovene dialects have lost tonal oppositions while most Kajkavian dialects have retained them.

This paper is a contribution to the pool of dialect data from this region. I will provide a brief description of the phonemic inventory of the village dialects of Iljevci and Mohenski Breg in Brezova Gora and of Zlogonje near Cvetlin. All three villages are located in Northwestern Croatia along the Slovene national border. I will also report on a spectrographic analysis of tonal oppositions in these dialects and compare them to the dialects just across the border in Slovenia.