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В октябре - декабре 2020 года лаборатория языковой конвергенции провела онлайн курс по нахско-дагестанским языкам

2020 год для лаборатории, как и для всего мира, оказался особенным. Мы не смогли осуществить свои планы поездок на конференции и, главное, не смогли провести международную летнюю школу, о которой мечтали. Мы стали думать о том, как поддержать привычный уровень международной активности, чтобы в условиях изоляции лаборатория не была забыта научным миром, чтобы поддержать свой тонус и не загрустить. Идея пришла не сразу, но оказалась удачной.

Мы организовали открытый курс на английском языке о том, что является главной экспертной областью лаборатории — о языках нахско-дагестанской семьи (она же восточнокавказская). Мы решили, что каждая лекция должна быть посвящена какой-то крупной теме и содержать обзор всей семьи. Кроме сотрудников лаборатории, читать лекции были приглашены ведущие дагестановеды со всего мира. К сожалению, нам удалось пригласить не всех, кого хотелось - мы поняли, что больше чем на три месяца нас не хватит, нужна передышка. Поэтому, возможно, в следующем году мы сделаем продолжение. Тем более что курс оказался очень успешным: на лекции собиралось до 150 человек. Среди них были и опытные лингвисты, и студенты, и просто любители Кавказа. 

Мы сразу решили, что будем записывать лекции и сделаем их доступными на сайте курса, чтобы он и дальше служил тем, кто интересуется этим регионом. Поскольку хотелось охватить разные страны, лекции назначили на 19:00 по московскому времени — чтобы их могли слушать в Америке, в частности — руководитель лаборатории Джоханна Николс, которая сейчас находится в Беркли. Еще одним удачным организационным решением было проводить лекции одновременно на платформе Zoom и в ютьюбе. Zoom создает возможность общения. Во время всех лекций в чате развивалось энергичное обсуждение отдельных фактов, причем ответы на вопросы часто находились даже раньше, чем удавалось задать их лектору, потому что среди аудитории были специалисты по разным языкам.

Хочется думать, что благодаря нашему курсу появятся новые исследователи этого замечательно интересного региона.

As a general linguist and typologist with Kartvelian languages as one field of specialisation I didn't want to miss the opportunity to learn more about the fascinating language area from experts that one would otherwise only be able to meet in one spot at a conference or summer school. It also allows to get into contact and discuss matters. The lectures present unique and compact overviews over the languages and their relevant linguistic features and create a vivid picture of the language structures. The Caucasus is of special interest to linguists because of its language density as well as phenomena which you don't have in Europe otherwise, e.g. ergativity (except for Basque, of course), polysynthesis and special phoneme inventories, and the introduction to the topographic background helped to understand the situation of the languages. I appreciate very much not only that you organise such an excellent lecture series, but also that you invite interested people from everywhere to attend.

Johanna Mattissen (University of Cologne)
course participant

I was interested in this course because I will be focusing on West Caucasian languages for my PhD research. Although East Caucasian and West Caucasian languages are very different, I wanted to get a big picture idea of what East Caucasian languages are like. I think I will come into contact with them in many ways through my research, and it will also help me look at the characteristics of West Caucasian languages from a lens of typological comparison. So far, I have really enjoyed the comprehensiveness of the lectures. Overall, they have each given a broad overview of a certain specific topic, which is a helpful introduction for me, but I especially appreciate that in a lot of cases the description positions East Caucasian languages in a wider, cross-linguistic context.

Sarah Dopierala (Goethe University Frankfurt)
course participant

As someone who is somewhat familiar with the broad picture on Caucasological studies, it was, of course, a great opportunity to get to hear from established scholars like Drs. Dobrushina, Nichols, Daniel, Forker, Maisak, Chumakina and others whose work I've admired, as well as upcoming new researchers in the field. The lectures were splendidly organized. They were certainly rigorous given the technical nature of the field, but also accessible enough that anybody with some familiarity with linguistic terminology could follow along. Each lecture was kept as lucid as possible, with ample textual examples for the audience to come to grips with the specific typology characterizing this language family, and leaves very little to criticize. I also appreciated how the stage was set with the unique sociolinguistic picture of Daghestan in the first lecture by Dr. Dobrushina and a little historical survey of the family by Dr. Nichols in the second lecture before diving into the morpho-phono-syntactic details from the third lecture onward. While the lectures stand on their own, the ordering definitely helped to contextualize the family for those of us who are not from the Caucasus and have not been there. I also found it helpful that we could attend the lecture with experts in other Caucasian families (like Dr. Arkadiev for Abkhaz-Adyghean and Dr. Wier for Kartvelian, among others) who bring excellent comparative perspectives to the lectures.

Samopriya Basu (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
course participant

I would love to thank the whole laboratory for this great course in Daghestanian languages. Since I am Georgian, I studied some traditional approaches in Caucasiology. Thus, I have some basic knowledge about the structure of the Daghestanian languages. still, my wish was to keep myself up-to-date about the situation in the field, follow the recent activities and enrich my linguistic knowledge. Besides this, Daghestanian languages are so fascinating, that I think every linguist, independently from their linguistic belief and school, need and must acquire basic descriptive and typological knowledge about the Caucasian languages in order to broaden their linguistic scope and outlook. The whole course keeps me updated to the field, and every time I look forward to seeing all of you online and listening to the rare linguistic lectures

Zurab Baratashvili (Australian National University)
course participant

This course provides unique insight into the typology of Nakh-Daghestanian languages, which one is unable to receive when studying one or even several grammars of Caucasian languages. Each lecture is given by an expert from the field, who are (crucially) affiliated with a wide range of research institutes and universities. Because of its wide range of topics, fieldworkers, typologists and all other varieties of linguists, regardless of their previous knowledge of Caucasian linguistics, can appreciate the wealth of knowledge provided by this lecture series.

Jesse Wichers Schreur (Goethe University Frankfurt, EPHE Paris)
course participant

My main reason for taking interest in the Linguistic Convergence Laboratory's series of lectures is that as a Caucasologist and linguist who has focused primarily on the Kartvelian language family, I feel too often the study of Kartvelian has been done in isolation from the other two autochthonous language families. Historically Georgian linguists often considered any apparent similarities to be due to a phylogenetic relationship, so-called Ibero-Caucasian, rather than language contact or simply typological trends. Most linguists outside the Caucasus reject Ibero-Caucasian as a legitimate phylum (rightly, I think). However, I think the same academic isolation is true from the perspective of Nakh-Daghestanian scholars, who often do not know enough about the literature on Kartvelian to sense or identify points of contact between the peoples. So public lectures like this help all of us by making research about this region publically available in a common academic language, English, as well as from scholars who are among the best in the field. They make it possible to see areas of language contact and typology that might have otherwise become siloed into language-family-specific literature. I very much appreciate the work these scholars are doing on this amazingly diverse and typologically challenging language family!

Thomas Wier (Free University of Tbilisi)
course participant

My impression thus far is that this is a very ambitious project. There is a great amount of depth, and I really appreciate the lecturers having widely read the available literature. I appreciated Denis Creissel's honesty yesterday in admitting that since he hadn't investigated a particular language, that he couldn't comment adequately on the question at hand. I think the initial lectures by Nina Dobrushina (sociolinguistics) and Johanna Nichols (overview of features and geographic distribution) were great. The breadth of topics is wonderful. Lastly, I would like to say, I wish I knew Russian as well as you folks in the HSE know English!!! I have fairly strong BICS in Russian, but I would like to do my best to obtain more mastery of CALP.

Ken Keyes (SIL Int'l. Inc.)
course participant