My work at Leiden is part of the NWO-funded project, "Turks, texts and territory: Imperial ideology and cultural production in Central Eurasia", headed by Dr. Gabrielle van den Berg. The purpose of this project is to problematize traditional views on the relationships between Turkic and and non-Turkic people in Central Asia and the Middle East from the 11th to the 14th centuries by focusing on Turkic contibutions to cultural production in the five Silk Road cities of Kashgar, Samarkand, Ghazna, Tabriz, and Konya.
My doctoral research will focus on explaining major structural changes in the Turkic of Central Asia as a function of contact between speakers of different languages. More specifically, I will endeavor to explain the degree to which the emergence of innovative features in the verbal systems of these languages is the result of borrowing and/or areal phenomena associated with bilingualism between Turkic and Persian or Turkic and other local substrate languages. After developing a list of innovative features, I will trace their evolution through the Middle Turkic corpus from the highly-conservative Qarakhanid Turkic of the 11th century to the earliest works of Chaghatay in the 14th, when processes leading to the realignment of verbal morphology seem to have been largely completed. By examining the distribution of these features within the region over time, it may be possible to explain what aspects of the sociolinguistic markets prevailing at various times privileged the adoption and spread of certain structures over other. To better accomplish this task, I will be working on an online atlas of potential areal features in Central Eurasia that could later be expanded to explore other potential contact phenomena within and in areas contiguous to this region.