Victor A. Friedman (Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1975) is Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Chicago and Research Professor at La Trobe University. He served as Director of UChicago’s Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies (2005-2015) and president of the U.S. National Committee of the International Association for Southeast European Studies (1988-present). He has conducted field work in the Balkans and the Caucasus for more than 40 years. His publications include The Grammatical Categories of the Macedonian Indicative (1977), the first book on Modern Macedonian to be published in the United States, now in a 2nd, revised edition (2014), Turkish in Macedonia and Beyond (2003), Studies in Albanian and Other Balkan Languages (2004), Očerki lakskogo jazyka [Studies on the Lak language] (2011), and Makedonistički Studii [Macedonian studies] (2 vols., 2011, 2015) as well as more than 300 scholarly articles. His book Romani in Macedonia and the Balkans is due to be published next year. His main research interests are grammatical categories and sociolinguistic issues related to contact, standardization, ideology, and identity in the languages of the Balkans and the Caucasus.


The Balkans constitute the first geographic region to be recognised as a linguistic area (Trubetzkoy 1923, 1930). Moreover, Balkan Slavic figured in Jakobson’s (1957) seminal definition of the category ‘evidential’, although the areal origin of the category in Bulgarian  had already been proposed by Conev (1910/1911). Conev’s own understanding of the category can ultimately be traced back to the 11th century Turkic lexicographer Maḥmūd al-Kāšǧarī (Dankoff 1982).  Across the Black Sea from the Balkans, the Caucasus has also been proposed as a linguistic area, although Tuite (1999), using ergativity as his diagnostic, makes it clear that the Caucasus is not a Sprachbund in the Trubetzkoyan sense. In this talk, based on more than  four decades of fieldwork in the Balkans and the Caucasus as well as the writing of a chapter for the just-appeared Oxford Handbook of Evidentiality (Friedman  2018), I will examine the origins and meanings evidentiality, discuss their relevance for the Balkans and for the Caucasus as linguistic areas, and look beyond those regions to greater Eurasia and across the Pacific to the Americas for additional evidence of internal versus external origins.

About Linguistics Seminar Series

The Linguistics Seminars are an opportunity to hear from guest speakers, UQ staff and HDR students working in the field of Linguistics. If you are interested in presenting in our series, please contact Linguistics Discipline Coordinator Ilana Mushin

Seminars are generally held fortnightly during semester and are free to attend. UQ staff and students, staff and students from other universities, and members of the general public are welcome to attend. If you would like to be included on our mailing list, please contact the SLC Events team via email.


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