Jan Fellerer
City of Vienna/IFK_Fellow

Duration of fellowship
01. March 2021 bis 30. June 2021

Jan Fellerer


Historical Urban Multilingualism in East Central Europe: Łódź around 1900


The autochthonous population of many East Central European cities was linguistically diverse until World War II. Today, for some, this fact conjures nostalgic projections of an allegedly genteel multicultural past. Many others associate it with conflict-laden national antagonism and hegemonic oppression tilted toward a dominant language. However, even amid ideologies and politics, everyday life needed to go on. Modern cities required ever-growing forms of interaction between their inhabitants for work, the provision of services, trade and commerce, local affairs, leisure, and the foundation of families. Speakers of different languages had no choice but to communicate with each other in one form or another.

It remains by and large unknown how this worked in actual practice in the workshops, offices, communal tenements, streets, markets, and inns of a historically grown multilingual urban society. One such city was the Polish industrial hub of Łódź, sometimes dubbed the ‘Polish Manchester.’ Under Russian rule until World War I and subsequently part of the Second Polish Republic, Łódź was home to speakers of Polish, Yiddish, German, and Russian. By applying contemporary sociolinguistic concepts, it becomes possible to recreate fragments of the city’s multilingual historical reality on the ground. Criminal court records of the time provide a particularly rich source toward this end. They offer privileged glimpses into everyday life in historical Łódź and its residents’ multilingual practices. Some of them were bi- or even trilingual, others resorted to forms of mixing and blending dialects, while officialdom required translations. These workings of urban polyglossia were fluid, adaptable, and efficient––while also clearly an expression of social inequality and political conflict.


Jan Fellerer graduated in Slavonic languages from the University of Vienna, including semesters abroad in Prague and Cracow. After several years at the University of Basel, he took up the post of Lecturer, and is now Associate Professor, of non-Russian Slavonic languages at the University of Oxford, Wolfson College. His main areas of research are in the history and structure of West and East Slavonic languages, in particular, Polish, Czech and Ukrainian.


Urban Multilingualism in East-Central Europe: The Polish Dialect of Late-Habsburg Lviv (=Studies in Slavic, Baltic, and Eastern European Languages and Cultures, Lanham/MD), London 2020; ed. with R. Pyrah, Lviv and Wrocław, Cities in Parallel? Myth, Memory and Migration, c. 1890–present, Budapest 2020; ed. with R. Pyrah and M. Turda, Identities In-Between in East-Central Europe (=Routledge Histories of Central and Eastern Europe), London/New York 2019; Mehrsprachigkeit im galizischen Verwaltungswesen (1772–1914). Eine historisch-soziolinguistische Studie zum Polnischen und Ruthenischen (Ukrainischen) (=Bausteine zur Slavischen Philologie und Kulturgeschichte 46), Cologne/Weimar 2005.

Postgraduate Society of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy Kyiv, Ukraine

4 May 2021, 4pm (CET), via Zoom (link to be confirmed)

 Lecture of Jan Fellerer:

Hybrid linguistic identities in 19th century L’viv

 Language mixing is an important component of the linguistic landscape in Ukraine to the present day. It is controversial too, as the discussions about so-called suržyk show. Linguistic hybridity, however, has a long history in Ukraine and elsewhere. It is an expected outcome of language-contact settings, even though it varies greatly depending on the historical context.

This talk will focus on historical L’viv and its suburbs with its intense and long-standing Ukrainian-Polish-Yiddish language contact. In writing, Church Slavonic remained an important point of reference well into the 19th century too. This produced forms of language mixing and hybrid linguistic identities that can be shown to be a direct reflection of the social fabric of the city. The close link between linguistic practice and social identity is well known and amply researched for contemporary settings. However, it is rarely applied to historical contexts. The talk is a contribution to try and redress this imbalance.

Jan Fellerer is Associate Professor in Slavonic Languages, University of Oxford, Wolfson College, currently Senior Fellow at the Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften, Kunstuniversität Linz in Wien


Postgraduate Society of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy Kyiv, Ukraine (Kopie)

4 May 2021, 4pm (CET), via Zoom (link to be confirmed)

 Lecture of Jan Fellerer:

 Associate Professor in Slavonic Languages, University of Oxford, Wolfson College, currently Senior Fellow at the Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften, Kunstuniversität Linz in Wien


Jan Fellerer (Oxford, Wien): Slavisches Seminar, Universität Zürich


Kolloquium Slavistische Linguistik (online)

 Jan Fellerer (Oxford, Wien):

 Sprachinterner vs. kontaktbedingter morphosyntaktischer Wandel: Das ‘Genus virile’ im polnisch-ukrainischen Sprachkontakt

Einer der zahlreichen morpho-syntaktischen Eigenheiten der sog. östlichen ‘Randdialekte’ des Polnischen (‘polszczyzna kresowa’) besteht darin, dass die Flexion der maskulinen Substantive im Unterschied zum Standardpolnischen kein ‘Genus virile’ unterscheidet. Zugleich bleibt aber auch in diesen Dialekten die allgemeinpolnische Kategorie der Belebtheit weiterhin intakt. Dies entspricht den grammatikalischen Gegebenheiten der unmittelbar benachbarten ostslavischen Sprachen, insbesondere des Ukrainischen. Der sich anbietende Schluss, die Erosion des ‘Genus virile’ im (süd)östlichen ‘Randpolnischen’ als Ukrainismus zu verstehen, erweist sich allerdings als vorschnell, weil ähnliche Erscheinungen auch in anderen polnischen Dialekten zu beobachten sind, und weil die Belebtheitskategorie im ‘Randpolnischen’ im Detail anders ausgestaltet ist als im Ukrainischen. Der Vortrag geht daher der Frage nach, ob die spezielle Entwicklung des ‘Genus virile’ im ‘Randpolnischen’ letztlich als dialektinterner oder doch als kontaktbedingter morpho-syntaktischer Wandel zu verstehen ist.

 Jan Fellerer hat Slawistik in Wien und Basel studiert. Er ist associate professor am Wolfson College der Universität Oxford und derzeit als Fellow des Internationalen Forschungszentrums Kulturwissenschaften in Wien tätig. Seine Forschungsschwerunkte liegen insbesondere auf der Geschichte und Struktur der west- und ostslawischen Sprachen.


Mittwoch, 19. Mai, 16:00–17:30


Gäste sind herzlich willkommen. Ein Zoom-Link wird auf Anfrage (s. Kontakt) gerne zur Verfügung gestellt.


Kontakt: dolores.lemmenmeier@uzh.ch, florian.wandl@uzh.ch

18:15 - 20:00
  • Lecture
Jan Fellerer

This lecture focuses on Polish-Jewish-German-Russian Łódź around 1900. It argues that the right sources and their analysis can shed light on how the city’s historical multilingualism worked in actual practice.