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The Slavic Linguistic Atlas


Work on the General Slavic Linguistic Atlas (OLA) is based on the decision of the 4th International Congress of Slavists (Moscow, September 1958). At the International Committee of Slavists, the OLA (Slavic Linguistic Atlas) Commission was organized and is represented by individual Slavic centers. The Commission, for its part, created an international work group.


The OLA questionnaire has 3,454 questions. The number of research points (villages) is 850.


The participants in OLA are: The Academy of Sciences of Bosnia and Herzegovina; The Bohemian Academy of Sciences; The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences; The Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts; The Institute for Lusatian Language, Literature and Culture (Bautzen – Budyšin); The Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts; The Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts; The National Academy of Sciences of Belarus; The National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine; The Polish Academy of Sciences; The Russian Academy of Sciences; The Scientific Research Center of Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts; The Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and The Slovak Academy of Sciences.


The OLA scope of interest is a group of related languages (Slavic), not just one language. This difference compared to other projects in the field of linguistic geography is not quantitative, but qualitative insomuch as the object of cartography is much more complex. While national atlases research the dialectal differences at the borders of one language, the OLA concentrates on the differences that are relevant from the point view of the entire Slavic linguistic territory.


The OLA Commission faces two types of problems: historical-comparative and synchronic-typological. The field’s excerption must bring forth material that will facilitate the answering of questions from these different scientific fields.


In the first field, relevant questions include the creation of the Slavic linguistic community and its further dialectal differentiation and the creation of the contemporary Slavic languages. The OLA provides material that will aid in research on the problem of the proto-Slavic linguistic territory and the subsequent spread of contacts between Slavic and non-Slavic languages and cultures, that is, the contact with Germans, Balts, Celts, Thracians, Iranians, Finno-Ugrians, Turks, Illyrians, Greeks, and Romanians.


The second task is no less important and at the same time is relatively new. The typological differentiation of the Slavic languages on all levels of their structure is rather large, even though a group of related languages is in question.


The OLA is structured as two series dedicated to (a) lexical and word-formational maps  and, (b) grammatical, i.e. phonetic, morphological and syntactic maps. Now, the first volumes have lexical-word formation and phonetic maps, and later, the generation of morphological, syntactic and semantic maps is planned. In the lexical-word formation volumes the material has been processed according to the semantic fields, and in the phonetic maps, according to the processes that are specific to the sound systems of the Slavic languages.


In accordance with the conception of this edition, the OLA collective works in two sections: “lexicon – word-formation” and “phonetics – grammar”. There is a subcommission in OLA for the generalizing transcription of  field material – the morphonological analysis of the material is done here, predictable phonological differentiation is eliminated and the general concepts of legends for the lexical-word formational maps are prepared. Recently, a sub-commission for the problems of the computerization of the work on the OLA was also formed.