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Borrowing of Inflectional Morphemes in Language Contact


Francesco Gardani

This book is about the borrowing of inflectional morphemes in language contact settings. This phenomenon has at all times seemed to be the most poorly documented aspect of linguistic borrowing. Contact-induced morphological change is not rare in word formation, but exceptional in inflection. This study presents a deductive catalogue of factors conditioning the probability of transfer of inflectional morphology from one language to another and adduces empirical data drawn from Australian languages, Anatolian Greek, the Balkans, Maltese, Welsh, and Arabic. By reference to the most advanced theories of morphology, a thorough analysis of the case studies is provided as well as a definition of inflectional borrowing according to which inflectional borrowing must be distinguished from mere quotation of foreign forms and is acknowledged only when inflectional morphemes are attached to native words of the receiving language.


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I Contact-induced language change


This chapter will offer an introduction into the field of contact-induced language change putting forward some overall theoretical principles and drawing basic methodological distinctions to be used throughout this study. A survey of the most significant approaches to the contact-induced language change will be pre- sented as well. 1.1 Theory of language contact Language contact occurs in nearly every country of the world and is manifest in the documented history of most languages. The term language contact does not point to any specific source or type of influence but covers a wide range of phe- nomena which all relate to the direct or indirect influence of languages on each other. The mutual interferences of two or more languages may occur on any or every linguistic level and may also extend to discourse and interaction. Before Weinreich's definitive work Languages in Contact, first published in 1953, turned the topic of language contact into a well-established disciplinary concern, linguists had Jong looked at language contact as a peripheral subject since most attention had been devoted to the idealization of already standardised varieties within a prescriptivist paradigm. Both neogrammarians and generativists had failed to perceive the Impact of other languages except in terms of proto- systems, thus neglecting historical and cultural differences. However, linguists later made up for this lack and accounted more ade- quately for the nature and development of languages. Weinreich's epochal study in the fifties, later efforts in the following decades by Dorian, Dressler, Thomason and others, and the overall...

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