Petar Kehayov, Ph.D. habil.

Former Postdoc of the Graduate School
Affiliated Researcher


Leibniz-Institut für Ost- und Südosteuropaforschung (IOS)
Arbeitsbereich Geschichte
Landshuter Str. 4
D-93047 Regensburg
Tel.: +49 (0)941 / 943 - 5423
Website (IOS)

Research Project

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

Funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), 2017-2020

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

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).

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”.

Linguistic fieldwork experience:


Language documentation among speakers of Votic and Ingrian in Northwest Russia (July 1998)


Language documentation among speakers of Ingrian in Northwest Russia (July 2009)


Language documentation among speakers of Seto (a subdialect of South Estonian) in Northwest Russia (July 2010)


Language documentation among speakers of North-Karelian, Olonets and Ludic in the Republic of Karelia, Northwest Russia (July 2011)


Language documentation among speakers of Ludic in the Republic of Karelia, Northwest Russia (June 2012)


Language documentation among speakers of Ingrian and Seto, Northwest Russia (July 2013)

Positions, Assignments and Memberships



Ehala, Martin, Külli Habicht, Petar Kehayov, Anastassia Zabrodskaja 2012. Keel ja ühiskond. [Language and Society.] Tallinn: Künnimees.

Kehayov, Petar 2008. An Areal-Typological Perspective to Evidentiality: the Cases of the Balkan and Baltic Linguistic Areas. Dissertationes Linguisticae Universitatis Tartuensis 10.


Kehayov, Petar & Vihman, Virve 2014. The lure of lability: A synchronic and diachronic investigation of the labile pattern in Estonian. To appear in: Typology of Labile Verbs: Focus on Diachrony, Eds. Kulikov, L., Lavidas, N.,  Linguistics 2014/4.

Kehayov, Petar, Eva Saar, Miina Norvik, Andres Karjus 2013. Hääbuva kesklüüdi murde jälgedel suvel 2012. [In the footsteps of vanishing Central Lude in summer 2012.] Emakeele Seltsi aastaraamat 58, 58–101.

Kehayov, Petar, Helle Metslang & Karl Pajusalu 2012. Evidentiality in Livonian. Linguistica Uralica 2012/1. Tallinn. Estonian Academy Publishers, 41–54.

Kehayov, Petar, Liina Lindström & Ellen Niit 2011. Imperative in interrogatives in Estonian (Kihnu), Latvian and Livonian. Linguistica Uralica 2011/2. Tallinn. Estonian Academy Publishers, 81–93.

Blokland, Rogier & Petar Kehayov 2010. Vene keele mõjust eesti keeles. Tagasivaateid ja perspektiive. [The Russian influence in Estonian. Hindsights and outlooks.] Eesti ja soome-ugri keeleteaduse ajakiri (ESUKA) / Journal of Estonian and Finno-Ugric Linguistics (JEFUL) 2010/2. Tartu. Tartu University Press, 35–54.

van der Auwera, Johan, Petar Kehayov & Alice Vittrant 2009. Acquisitive modals. In: Cross-linguistic Semantics of Tense, Aspect and Modality, Eds. Hogeweg, L., de Hoop, H. and Malchukov, A. (Linguistik Actuell/Linguistics Today 148). Amsterdam. John Benjamins, 271–302.

Kehayov, Petar 2009. Interactions between grammatical evidentials and lexical markers of epistemicity and evidentiality: a case-study of Bulgarian and Estonian. In: Lexikalische Evidenzialitäts-Marker in slavischen Sprachen, Eds. Plungian, V., Wiemer, B. Wiener Slawistischer Almanach, Sonderband 72. München – Wien. Otto Sagner, 165–201.

Kehayov, Petar 2009. Taboo intensifiers as polarity items: evidence from Estonian. Language Typology and Universals. Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung (STUF) 2009/1–2, 140–164.

Kehayov, Petar 2009. Olema-verbi ellipsist eesti kirjakeeles. [On the ellipsis of olema ‘to be’ in Written Estonian.] Emakeele Seltsi aastaraamat [Yearbook of the Mother Tongue Society] 54. Tartu. Eesti Teaduste Akadeemia, 107–152.

Kehayov, Petar & Reeli Torn-Leesik 2009. Modal verbs in Balto-Finnic. In: Modals in the Languages of Europe, Eds. Hansen, B., de Haan, F. (Empirical Approaches to Language Typology 44). Berlin – New York. Mouton de Gruyter, 363–401.

Kehayov, Petar & Rogier Blokland 2007. Mittesufiksaalne deminutiivituletus eesti keeles. [Non-suffixal diminutive derivation in Estonian.] Emakeele Seltsi aastaraamat [Yearbook of the Mother Tongue Society] 52. Tartu. Eesti Teaduste Akadeemia, 87–124.

Kehayov, Petar & Florian Siegl 2007. The evidential past participle in Estonian reconsidered. Études finno-ougriennes 38. Paris. L'Harmattan, 75–117.

Kehayov, Petar 2004. Eesti keele evidentsiaalsussüsteem mõne teise keele taustal. Semantika. [The Estonian evidentiality system in contrast with some other evidentiality systems. Semantics.] Keel ja Kirjandus [Language and Literature] 2004/12. Tallinn. SA Kultuurileht, 895–914.

Kehayov, Petar 2004. Eesti keele evidentsiaalsussüsteem mõne teise keele taustal. Morfosüntaks ja distributsioon. [The Estonian evidentiality system in contrast with some other evidentiality systems. Morphosyntax and distribution.] Keel ja Kirjandus [Language and Literature] 2004/11. Tallinn. SA Kultuurileht, 812–829.

Kehayov, Petar 2004. Lauseliigenduse printsiipe bulgaaria keele normatiivses grammatikas. [Syntactic relation tagging principles in Bulgarian normative grammar.] In: Lauseliikmeist eesti keeles [About the syntactic relations in Estonian], Ed. Lindström, L. Tartu Ülikooli eesti keele õppetooli preprindid 1. Tartu. Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus, 26–33.

Kehayov, Petar 2002. Eesti keel ja makedoonia keel: arenguloolisi paralleele. [Estonian and Macedonian: sociohistorical resemblances.] Võro Instituudi Toimõndusõq [Publications of Võru Institute] 14. Võru. Võru Instituut, 13–26.

Kehayov, Petar 2002. Typology of Grammaticalized Evidentiality in Bulgarian and Estonian. Linguistica Uralica 2002/2. Tallinn. Estonian Academy Publishers, 126–144.


Kehayov, Petar 2006. Uurimus eesti kirjakeele vene laensõnadest [A study on Russian loanwords in Literary Estonian.] (Rogier Blokland. The Russian Loanwords in Literary Estonian. Groningen: University of Groningen, 2005. 670 pp.). Keel ja Kirjandus [Language and Literature] 2006/10. Tallinn. SA Kultuurileht, 844–846.

Presentations (selected)

Kehayov, Petar; Reeli Torn-Leesik. Modals in Finnic, 38th annual conference of Societas Linguistica Europea (07.–10.09.2005, Valencia).

Kehayov, Petar. Types of grammatical evidentials in the languages of the Balkan and Baltic linguistic areas, Annual conference of the Belgian Linguistic Society (20.05.2006, Leuven)

van der Auwera, Johan; Kehayov, Petar; Vittrant, Alice. Acquisitive modals, TAMTAM: Cross-linguistic semantics of Tense, Aspect, Modality (15.–16.11.2006, Nijmegen).

Kehayov, Petar. Interactions between evidential grammemes and lexical markers of epistemicity and evidentiality, CIL 18 (21.–26.07.2008, Seoul).

Kehayov, Petar. Labile verbs in Estonian, ISTAL 19 (03.–05.04.2009, Thessaloniki).

Vihman, Virve; Kehayov, Petar. System versus syncretism: verbal derivation and lability in Estonian, LAGB 50th Anniversary Golden Jubilee Meeting (06.–10.09.2009, Edinburgh).

Kehayov, Petar. Semantic functions of complementizers in Finnic (Estonian, Finnish, Karelian), LANCHART workshop on Semantic Functions of Complementizers in European Languages (28.–29.10.2011, Copenhagen)


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

2011 – 2012 University of Regensburg, Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship for Postdoctoral Researchers

2005 – 2006 Guest-scholar at the Center for Grammar, Cognition and Typology, University of Antwerp, scholarship provided by the Government of Flanders

2002 – 2003 Student grant provided by Soros Supplementary Grant Programme

2000 – 2001 Student grant provided by Soros Supplementary Grant Programme

1997 – 1998 Exchange student at the University of Oulu, Finland