The Modal Aorist in the Balkan Linguistic League


  • Victor Friedman University of Chicago
  • Brian Joseph


In this article, we shall examine Balkan modal aorists compar­atively to determine the extent to which areality interacts with typology in creating convergent or parallel expressions. We shall conclude that while the modal aorist is not necessarily a Balkanism in the classic sense, it nonetheless merits attention in a Balkan linguistic context, and the division between West and East in both Balkan Slavic and Balkan Romance in this respect may have a Balkan areal component. We begin with Albanian, Romani, and Greek and then examine Balkan Slavic and Bakan Romance. We conclude that the modal aorist is a West Balkanism, consistent with the West/East split identified by Gołąb 1976.


Victor Friedman, University of Chicago

Victor A. Friedman is Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and the Department of Linguistics at the University of Chicago, where he also holds an associate appointment in the Department of Anthropology, and he is Director of Chicago’s Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies. He is a member of the Macedonian Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Academy of Sciences of Albania, the Academy of Arts and Sciences of Kosova, Matica Srpska, and holds the "1300 Years of Bulgaria" jubilee medal. He has thrice been awarded the Golden Plaque from the University of Skopje, from which he also holds the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa. In 2009 he received the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages’ Annual Award for Outstanding Contributions to Scholarship. During the Yugoslav Wars he worked for the UN as a senior policy and political analyst in Macedonia and consulted for other organizations. He has held Guggenheim, Fulbright-Hays, ACLS, NEH, and other fellowships. His books include Macedonian (2002), Turkish in Macedonia and Beyond (2003), Studies in Albanian and Other Balkan Languages (2004), a scholarly edition of Aleko Konstantinov’s Bai Ganyo (2010), Očerki lakskogo jazyka (2011), and Makedonistički Studii (2011).




Friedman, V., & Joseph, B. (2023). The Modal Aorist in the Balkan Linguistic League. Zeitschrift für Balkanologie, 58(1+2). Abgerufen von