A month long silence

Sorry for the big delay. This month has been full of events slowing down my research (and I have had a very limited access to the Internet for part of it).

I finished my research in Bodanywka, and with lots of tears I had to move next.

I decided to go back to Zhidche for five days in order to record other speakers, and do a deeper research on the adnumerative and modality, at the light of my last findings.


[The village looked a lot nicer now that the trees and the flowers had started to blossom]

I had the privilege of recording a lady from the neighbouring village (Malaja Vul’ka), who has lived most of her life in Zhydche. She was deported as a kid to Austria by the Nazis, and she shared some memories about it, although she is full of enthusiasm and good sense of humour. But she also has a great talent for writing satiric poems and songs in her own variety.


I spent a couple of days with my friends trying to find people to stay with in Pare (as the contact I had was not available at that time). We eventually found some friends’ friends in Vystraw (about 7 km from Pare, BLM: Востраў). So I went to this tiny village, with less than 60 dwellers, but a XVI century wooden church (where all the people from the neighbouring villages attend, especially for the main annual services).


I only get the chance to visit Pare on the weekend, as the weather during the week had been windy and cold, and we wanted to get there by tractor. Moreover, the people that had to take me where very busy planting their potatoes and seeds. But that was a good way for going to work with them, learning more about their lifestyle (since many speakers share stories related to agriculture which are difficult to figure out for a foreign boy grown up in a big city), and why not, do some physical exercise.

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Pare has gorgeous landscapes and the people in the village have a very interesting variety (within the tiny Torokanian group; e.g.*pѣsъkъ > pa’sok). As I said, the nearest church serving the whole area is in Vystraw. So the village has a bell (which is a century old) used in order to warn people about fires, announce someone’s burial or that it’s an important religious day (Easter or Christmas). I got to interview the man who has been in charge of that task for the past 20 years:

I was very excited for being able to interview four people in Pare, and I was planing on going back to Pare on foot that week, to take longer interviews from the ‘best’ speakers I had met. But the weather forecast turned against me on Monday morning, and they said it was going to be raining until Sunday 1st of May (which is Easter here, and I really wanted to record ethnographically interesting material in the village). But which is worse, it may be that the weather it’s going to be rainy (with eventual wet snow) until May 20th (unusual for the region). Hence, I decided to leave the village on Tuesday (26th), and come back later on, when the weather is better.


[Maria Uladzimirawna, from Pare]

Back in the city, I started looking for other villages where the Torokanian variety is spoken in county Drahichyn. That was hard as everybody was very busy preparing for Easter (as the house must be spotless and the table must be overflowing with food), plus I got really sick during that week.


But good news, I found some people living in a tiny village with less than 50 dwellers, just 2km away from Torokan (Imeniny), and I just got here last Monday (2nd of May). People here celebrate Easter for three days, and so on the third day, apart from preparing lots of food, they visit the tombs of their relatives. By Easter everybody had had to clean their relatives’ tombs and pour out new sand. Now they had to bring new (plastic) flowers and tie very bright laces, so that people notice that those people are lying there and there are people caring about them.

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More news about my time in county Drahichyn on the next post.


Author: Kristian Roncero

I am a PhD student at the Surrey Morphology Group. I am currently doing fieldwork in the region of Brest (Belarus), as I am researching West Polesian morphology and phonology. You can follow short updates about my experiences on the field on Twitter, with the hashtag #westpolesian You will see that some post have the tags as # *thing, as I am also following a course on increasing the impact of your research at the University of Surrey called '23 Things'.

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