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Balkan sprachbund

The Balkan sprachbund is a language area encompassing numerous lan­g­ua­ges on the Balkan Peninsula, including Serbo-Croatian, Greek, Albanian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Balkan Romani and Turkish. These languages share a number of common grammatical features (not that every language exhibits all of them, of course) despite their belonging to a variety of different language families, due to the influence they have exerted on each other over the many long centuries of ongoing linguistic contact.

The major features shared between them include:

  • definite articles going at the ends of nouns, rather than before them (but not in Greek, Serbo-Croatian, or Romani)
  • the number of noun cases has generally reduced from earlier forms of these languages, with more cases having their role taken over by prepositions. In many of these languages there are four cases: nominative, accusative, a merged genitive/dative, and a vocative.
  • a future tense formed from a conjugated verb (equivalent to English’s “would, will”) + a semantic verb (often in subjunctive, present-tense, or infinitive form).
  • a past perfect formed from a conjugated form of “to have” + a past passive participle; Bulgarian and Serbo-Croatian, though, use a more typically Slavic “to be” + past active participle. In Macedonian, both forms exist.
  • the loss or avoidance of verb infinitives.
  • the existence of a “renarrative mood” that can be employed instead of the indicative to describe something that you heard occurred. In languages where this exists, use of the indicative instead is taken to imply you personally witnessed it.
  • you can use the subjunctive by itself to express a suggestion, a gentle command, or a wish. Sort of like Spanish “¡Que tengas un buen dia!” but without “que”.
  • the use of a “double” object pronoun (again cf. Spanish “Le di un regalo a mi novia.”), but for both indirect and direct objects.
  • forming numbers 11–19 through a construction like “X” + “on” + “ten”
  • the lack of synthetic comparative adjectives (like English “bigger”, “happier”) and instead using a particle. Some languages do still have the old synthetic adjectives in which case the particle can be added for extra emphasis.
  • there are some suffixes that are commonly used across all/most of the sprachbund languages.
  • there are a few hundred borrowed words that are shared in common across the sprachbund languages, generally with their origin in Greek, Bulgarian or Turkish.
  • there are also a number of calques.
  • there are some phonetic similarities.