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Open Access Grammar, Contact and Time

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Grammar, Contact and Time

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image of Journal of Language Contact

A continuing issue in work on language contact has been determining the relative borrowability of various structural features. It is easy to imagine, for example, how a tendency to use particular word order patterns in one language might be replicated by bilinguals in another, but difficult to understand how abstract morphological structures could be transferred. When we look at linguistic areas, however, we often find grammatical features shared by genetically unrelated languages that seem unborrowable. Here we consider the importance of adding the dimension of time to investigations into the potential effects of contact. As a point of departure we examine a relatively straightforward example from western North America, a striking parallelism in verbal structure among large numbers of languages indigenous to California. The example illustrates the fact that parallel grammatical structures in neighboring languages need not have been borrowed in their current form. They might instead be the result of an earlier transfer of patterns of expression that set the stage for subsequent parallel developments.

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/content/journals/10.1163/000000007792548378
2007-06-01
2016-12-05

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