Multilingualism and Language Contact in Urban Centres along the Silk Road during the First Millenium AD
2010 (English)In: The Urban Mind: Cultural and Environmental Dynamics / [ed] Paul J.J. Sinclair, Gullög Nordquist, Frands Herschend and Christian Isendahl., Uppsala: Uppsala University, African and Comparative Archaeology, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History , 2010, 441-455 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Cities are places of ethnic and linguistic diversity, and thus of language contact. This isillustrated by the oasis city-states along the Silk Roads in Central Asia that developed intocosmopolitan centres of an amazing religious, ethnic and linguistic diversity during thefirst millennium AD. The growing trade on the Silk Roads, missionary activities, shiftingpolitical, religious and military domination, and last but not least climatic changes ledto increasing immigration into the cities, creating a multilayered linguistic ecologicalsystem of interacting spoken and written codes. A flourishing written culture developed;and the rich activity of urban cross-cultural exchange is not only reflected in art andarchitecture, but also in a vast variety of texts and manuscripts translated and annotatedin more than twenty different languages and nearly as many different scripts. Traces ofthe cross-cultural contact are also revealed by the individual languages themselves, whichchanged dramatically on many different levels. An ecolinguistic study of Tocharian – oneof the lesser known tongues of the Turfan and Kucha area along the northern route of theSilk Road – taking into account status, internal variation, domains of usage, concurrentcodes and language contact, reveals one aspect of an “urban mind”: namely, the efforts andsuccess of city dwellers to tackle communication in the multilingual settings of the city.In creative processes the speakers in close spatial coexistence changed and adapted theircodes, both the spoken and the written ones, and developed new varieties and registers.Tocharian shows traces of the impact of concurrent codes, not only in the lexicon butalso on the structural, morphological and morphosyntactic level. For reasons yet to beexplored, Tocharian was abandoned as a high-status written code sometime between theeighth and the tenth century AD, and at an unknown point in time it became extinct asa spoken code as well.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Uppsala University, African and Comparative Archaeology, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History , 2010. 441-455 p.
Studies in Global Archaeology, ISSN 1651-1255 ; 15
Language Contact; Central Asia; Buddhism; Tocharian; Multilinguality; Silk Road
General Language Studies and Linguistics History and Archaeology
Research subject Comparative Indo-European Linguistics and Philology; Indology with Classical Sanscrit
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-277561ISBN: 978-91-506-2175-4OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-277561DiVA: diva2:905119
ProjectsThe Urban Mind