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Mother tongue talk in three languages

Romaniuk, Olena
Languages within one language family may be so closely related that their speakers often communicate, each using their own language. This phenomenon was investigated in African, Germanic and Romance languages and coined as semicommunication by Haugen (1966), and later became receptive multilingualism by Braunmüller (2002). This research attempts to find out if receptive multilingual communication is possible in Slavonic languages (Polish, Russian and Ukrainian). Besides, it was a great importance to define whether the success of communication is symmetric among the speakers of the mentioned languages. Finally, various cases of problematic understanding were analyzed with the main emphasis on the speakers’ strategies when they try to overcome reception problems. Methodically, 4 Russian-Ukrainian, 4 Polish-Ukrainian and 4 Polish-Russian conversations were recorded with the use of digital camera. Cases of problematic understanding were defined and transcribed with Exmaralda program, Partitur editor. Number of problematic utterances in relation to total number of utterances in discourse was the measure of communication success in each language constellation. In order to see the overall picture of how receptive multilingualism works in the three languages and in each constellation separately, the statistic research was done with SPSS program. The findings of the research revealed that receptive multilingual communication among Polish, Russian and Ukrainian speakers is generally successful, however, not symmetric with respect to understanding degree in different constellations.