It’s finally summer time (last weeks in Tatar’ja)

Once again, I have to leave the village when I already felt at home! Anyway, those last three weeks have been very intensive. I have had the chance to interview more people in the neighbouring villages (mostly in Sičyw and Tatar’ja). In spite of the fact that they are less than 10 km away from each other, and they are within the Torokanian subgroup, I have been able to find differences in their speech


[Yes, the veggies keep growing so quickly!].

But, most of the time I have been working with a speaker in Torokan (Imyaniny), Baba Ženja, who has an enormous heart and who has been very patient with me. Last Friday (10/06/2016), a journalist from (the main news portal in Belarus) was during our session. You can read the article here [].


[Meet this week’s star on Belarusian media]

I have also interviewed the people I have been living with. Baba Katja is a bit shy, but when she started sharing stories she happened to be the best storyteller interviewed so far, and she knows a bunch of them! But not only that, she also provided me awesome comments on grammar, which I appreciate endleslly (as I was a bit stuck). Apart from it she is an excellent cook (and partly responsible of the few kilos I have gained) and a gardener, with an enviable memory and creativity.

  [Here is one of her tales]20160611_111123 (2)

I also got to interview djadja Kolja, one of the last original dwellers of Tatar’ja, who is a speaker of a gorgeous Torokanian variety. When I first heard him speaking, I instantly adored his idiolect: he uses almost all the grammar structures I had been looking for months! But it took me a whole month to convince him to let me record his stories. He is full of joy, very friendly and sociable, but unfortunatelly, he doesn’t his stories to be published (at least he was OK with publishing his photos) So here you have one of my heroes!

One of the topics I have dealt with during those last weeks (although, not the main) is postnominal possessors. Postnominal possessors in the studied variety(ies) are characterised by a quite free word order, which allows the insertion of different elements between the noun and the possessor:

(T3.10 00:29) ʃtʃe o’dɪn u’tʃytɪl ʒy’ve mɪj.
(T3.10 00:45) ‘batjko ska’zav̞ jo’mu mɪj […] pa’bɪj jak, ʃtʃo nɪ ‘znaje.
(T7.8 01:38) mu’ʒyk ‘toʒe mɪj ʒ so’sjednoj dɪ’revni

It seems that the prenominal position is optional for most of the cases (especially when they do not involve kinship terms), which raises the question of whether postnominal possessors are ‘more authentic’ and they are evolving under the pressure of Russian (and for some reason, some terms are more resilient to that change than others).

They say I only publish about food, but I haven’t for a month. I think I deserve a treat!! Here you have some of the local specialities

[Schabjel soup, goat milk tvorah (a kind of quark), and sirniki with cherry jam]

20160610_151026 (2)

Да пабачэння! See you soon!


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'.

One thought on “It’s finally summer time (last weeks in Tatar’ja)”

  1. Dear Kristian,
    You are telling about the progress of your research work so interestingly! It especially impressed me since I am from Drogichin region (Kremno village, it is not far from Imenin), but now live in Minsk. It was a great idea for you to choose exactly West Polesian region because the dialect is specific and the local residents are very hospitable and friendly people. Moreover, you can see that every settlement has a unique name explained by the local legends, traditions, features of nature, etc. So it is an opportunity for you to include some details about toponymics in your research work. For example, the name of my native village (Kremno) derives from the name of stone – flint (kremen’) which you can find only there. Also, the language and history of Brest region had an impact on the mentality of local people. They are very hardworking, generous, openhearted (Polish occupation, characteristics of nature, in particular wet land and swamps, influenced the national character). In general, this topic is interesting for me, and I researched some things about the history of my native region.
    If you have plans to continue your research work, I strongly advice you to visit Bezdezh (Бездеж). There is a unique museum there (it is a cozy place with welcoming atmosphere). The director of this museum is a very hospitable and friendly woman, she can tell a lot of stories about the history of Bezdezh and its influence on the mentality of local people. You can also try on traditional costume and taste local food there. 🙂
    If you need any kind of my assistance (translation, language, history, etc.), feel free to contact me. 🙂 My e-mail: You are doing a really great job!
    Best regards, Natalia.


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