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Kehayov, Petar

Petar Kehayov, Ph.D. habil.

Affiliated Researcher –
Former Postdoc


Leibniz-Institut für Ost- und Südosteuropaforschung (IOS)
Arbeitsbereich Geschichte
Landshuter Str. 4
D-93047 Regensburg

Phone: +49 (0)941 / 943 - 5423


Research Projects

Die aussterbenden karelischen Mundarten in der Oblast Murmansk. Ein Beitrag zur umfassenden Dokumentation und Beschreibung

The dying Karelian dialects in the Murmansk Oblast. A contribution to their comprehensive documentation and description

The Karelian dialects spoken in the Murmansk Oblast are poorly documented and – as a result – little explored, compared to related dialects spoken in other regions of Northwest Russia. Moreover, bearing in mind that the Karelian is one of the most threatened minority languages in the Murmansk Oblast, the extensive documentation and description of these dialects is a matter of utmost urgency. The concrete goals of the research project are the documentation and archiving of current natural language data that are most representative in terms of geographic factors, origin of speakers, age, education, contact with speakers of other languages in the field as well as other extralinguistic variables, the description and analysis of the structural variation found in the collected linguistic data relating to these variables. As descendants of different migration waves who have been exposed to various social conditions and language contact situations and live scattered across a large area, the Karelian speakers in the Murmansk Oblast are a challenging source of knowledge for the current research on linguistic variation and language death among indigenous peoples.

Funded by:

  • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), 2017-2020

Grammars in language death: The fate of mood-and-modality in obsolescent Finnic completed)

Postdoc Project at the Graduate School

The most distinctive characteristic of language death is that certain breaking point beyond which languages are no longer being learned as a mother tongue. My postdoctoral project deals with the structural behavior of the category of mood-and-modality in languages that are no more naturally transmitted between generations but still have elderly native speakers with varying degree of fluency. Object of the study are four severely endangered varieties belonging to the Finnic group of the Uralic language family: Ingrian, Votic, Central Lude and Eastern Seto (spoken in Leningrad Oblast, Republic of Karelia and Pskov Oblast of the Russian Federation, respectively). The focus on certain grammatical category and on mood-and-modality in particular, is novel and comes to fill a research gap in the field. Previous studies on language death are mostly concerned with processes and phenomena applying to several areas of grammar at once; e.g. reduction without compensation, generalization and paradigmatic levelling, morphotactic transparency and constructional iconicity, suppression of marked features in favor of unmarked features, innovativeness, loss of redundancy, and preference for analytic/isolational structures. This circumscription to general phenomena is understandable, as language decay is usually a process affecting different functional domains of grammar simultaneously and not consecutively. The lack of research focusing on the behavior of specific grammatical categories in language death has, however, limitative consequences for our understanding of language change in general. For example, I am not aware of any explicit hypotheses with regard to the relative susceptibility of grammatical categories (e.g. tense or aspect) or their values (e.g. pluperfect or progressive) to loss, change and innovation in language decay. This postdoctoral project takes a new perspective to the issue, looking at developments in specific grammatically encoded functional domains (e.g. the expression of ‘(un)certainty’), instead of looking only at domain-independent structure (e.g. the form of the Conditional mood).

Please also see an overview of his project in the Graduate School's 2012/13 Annual Report.

Curriculum Vitae

Petar Kehayov studied Estonian, Uralic languages and General Linguistics at the University of Tartu (Estonia) where he acquired his bachelor’s degree in 2000, master’s degree in 2003, and doctoral degree in 2008. In the period 2003–2011 he was consecutively employed as a researcher at the Department of Estonian and Finno-Ugric Linguistics, at the Graduate School of Linguistics and Language Technology, and at the Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics at the University of Tartu. In the time following he was an Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute of Slavonic Studies at the University of Regensburg (2011–2013) and a postdoctoral fellow at the Graduate School for East and South East European Studies at the University of Regensburg and Ludwig-Maximilian-University Munich (2013–2016). Since May 2017 he has been a research associate at the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies, working on the project “Vanishing Karelian in Murmansk Oblast: Toward a comprehensive documentation and description”.

Positions, Assignments and Memberships

  • Member Association for Linguistic Typology
  • Member Emakeele Selts (Mother Tongue Society), Estonia


  • 2005 3rd place in the Estonian student research contest organized by ARCHIMEDES (category “Ph.D. students in Humanities”)


List of publications (IOS Regensburg website)



"Indigenous Language Death: Beyond the DramaIndigenous Language Death: Beyond the Drama". (Jahrestagung der Graduiertenschule für Ost- und Südosteuropastudien "Studying East and Southeast Europe as Area Studies: Paradigms - Themes - Methods for the 21st Century", München, 25.-27.10.2018)

See more presentations (IOS Regensburg website)