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4 Negative Borrowing in an Indigenous Language Shift to the Dominant National Language (2006)

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Chapter Summary

One change process widely recognized in language-contact situations appear under various names, among them negative borrowing: over the course of time linguistic features not shared by both languages are susceptible to disappearance from use among bilingual speakers. As a test of the hypothesis that features without a parallel in the expanding language will, under conditions of language contact leading to shift, be particularly susceptible to reduction and loss, this chapter looks at four grammatical features of the Scottish Gaelic spoken by bilingual fisherfolk and their descendants in the village of Embo, on the east coast of the county of Sutherland in Highland Scotland. Two of the four features had rough parallels in English grammar, two did not, and the question raised is whether the features with no parallel in English grammar will show swifter and more extensive loss in receding Gaelic than the features which have an English parallel.

Keywords: bilingual fisherfolk; bilingual speakers; grammatical features; language shift; linguistic features; negative borrowing; Scottish Gaelic



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