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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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III Aims of this study: problems and predictions


This chapter will illustrate the aims pursued by the present study and put forward predictions on inflectional borrowing to verify with the data presented in Chapter 4. Examples of cases ruled out by the constraints to the investigation area will be presented as well. 3.1 Aims of this study The principle aim of this study is to fill a striking gap in the linguistic research. As pointed out in the introduction, there are no books or scientific articles avail- able that are entirely devoted to the borrowing of inflectional morphemes in language contact settings. Although the publication of Thomason & Kaufman (1988) constitutes a great source of inspiration and still stands as the best docu- mented and most authoritative study on the subject, it does not provide a monographic and complete picture of it. In order to fill this gap in the scientific research, the present monograph pursues two goals: 1) to provide a conspicuous collection of case studies to such an extent which has not being undertaken so far; 2) on the basis of the presented cases studies, to provide a new definition of borrowing of inflectional morphemes and an analysis of the factors which seem to support and improve it, including an explanation of the possible path(s) this phenomenon may go through to come about. Obviously, this research lays no claim to comprehensiveness, since still plenty of work is to be done. The scarce presence of data should stimulate other researchers to undertake new field work and provide...

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