Pilviškiai dialect: research and the status at the start of the 21st century

Rima Bakšienė

The paper deals with the Pilviškiai subdialect belonging to the southern part of the West Aukštaitian Kaunas area; previous dialectological studies are reviewed, the most important features of traditional dialect are identified, the vitality of dialectal speech at the beginning of the 21st century is analysed.

The Pilviškiai speech, as a separate dialectal unit, has not been systematically studied by dialectologists so far. Based on the capital works of dialectology of the middle of the 20th century and the research of Juozas Senkus, which should be mentioned separately, on the Kaunas area dialects, that the surroundings of Pilviškiai make a transition zone between the dialects of Zanavykai and actual Kapsai (J. Senkus called this area the Pazanavykio Kapsai). With Kapsai, the traditional Pilviškiai dialect is the closest by the well-kept vowels of unaccented endings and usage of kàp, tep, but it differs obviously in non-prolonged diphthong components of i, u pronounced with falling accent. The latter feature is close to Zanavykai; moreover, people in Pilviškiai (as in Zanavykai) tend to combine the quality of vowel e to the vocalism of the further syllable; moreover, elements of continuous accent typical of Zanavykai are fixed in Pilviškiai speech. 

A review of dialectal self-awareness and features in the area of Pilviškiai at the start of the 21st century revealed that ordinary users of this dialect are well aware of their dialectal dependence, but as everywhere in the area of western Aukštaitian Kaunas, regional identity is usually supported not by language but by locality component. Ordinary consumers consider their dialect being beautiful and standard. Objective analysis has confirmed that the dialect remains viable enough. The features ordinary dialect users notice the least are used in a most stable manner, i.e., vowel quality features, are used in a most stable manner, while the most noticeable dialectal features are most prone to change. The degree of vitality of dialectal speech is determined not so much by the prestige of the dialect or ordinary consumer attitudes towards the dialect, but more due to its certain difference from the standard language.