Voice in Istanbul Greek: A Language Contact Explanation


  • Umut Gülsün Boğaziçi University




Istanbul Greek, Turkish, language contact, Voice, anticausatives, morphosyntax, non-active morphology, markedness, Greek


The aim of this research is analyzing Voice-related constructions in Istanbul Greek, namely anticausative and passive predicates, and addressing the synchronic differences between the Istanbul dialect and Standard Greek in terms of these constructions from a language-contact perspective. As a morphosyntactic analysis of Istanbul Greek, this research is the first of its kind, and is based on data collected from native speakers, namely the Istanbul Greeks. Voice-related constructions in Greek involve regular use of non-active morphology. Hence, the empirical domain of this research covers the use of non-active morphology in Istanbul Greek. My hypothesis is that the markedness of Istanbul Greek anticausatives is correlated with the markedness of their Turkish counterparts, contrary to Standard Greek. By markedness, I refer to the existence of an overt exponent for the binary morphological distinction between active and non-active forms. I claim that language contact between Istanbul Greek and Turkish is a possible reason for the dialectal differences between Istanbul Greek and Standard Greek in terms of the marking of Voice-related constructions.

In terms of setting the theoretical background for Voice-related constructions in Standard Greek, I utilized Alexiadou et al.’s (2015) work about Standard Greek marked/unmarked anticausatives. I also collected data on Standard Greek from ten speakers, which diverged from Alexiadou et al.’s (2015) explanation of Voice-related constructions in the standard dialect. For setting the linguistic background on Istanbul Greek, I utilized the study of Pandelidis (2019). To offer a morphosyntactic explanation for the dialectal differences observed in the Istanbul Greek data, I utilized language contact concepts such as interference (Thomason 2003), convergence (Clyne 2003), valency-copying (Grossman and Witzlack-Makarevich 2019), morphophonological explanations such as the presence vs. absence of an augment, and Haspelmath’s (1993) spontaneity scale, among others.