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Open Access Give-Constructions in Heritage Ambon Malay in the Netherlands

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Give-Constructions in Heritage Ambon Malay in the Netherlands

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The domains where languages show variable syntax are often vulnerable in language contact situations. This paper investigates one such domain in Ambon Malay: the variable encoding of give-events. We study give-expressions in the Ambon Malay variety spoken by heritage speakers in the Netherlands, and compare the responses of heritage speakers with those of homeland speakers in Ambon, Indonesia. We report that heritage Ambon Malay shows an innovative higher incidence of do constructions compared to the homeland variety, and a significant decrease in the frequency of ‘two predicate’ constructions. The change that heritage Ambon Malay is undergoing is thus not categorical, but rather involves a change in frequency of certain constructions. We argue that this ‘restructuring by changing frequency’ is due to a combination of factors: influence from Dutch, universal tendencies in language acquisition, and the language history of individual speakers. Apart from a quantitative difference, we also observe a qualitative difference between the give-constructions of heritage and homeland speakers of Ambon Malay: both groups use different prepositions in the prepositional object construction, a reflection of their different social histories.

Affiliations: 1: Radboud University, f.moro@let.ru.nl Leiden University, M.A.F.Klamer@hum.leidenuniv.nl

The domains where languages show variable syntax are often vulnerable in language contact situations. This paper investigates one such domain in Ambon Malay: the variable encoding of give-events. We study give-expressions in the Ambon Malay variety spoken by heritage speakers in the Netherlands, and compare the responses of heritage speakers with those of homeland speakers in Ambon, Indonesia. We report that heritage Ambon Malay shows an innovative higher incidence of do constructions compared to the homeland variety, and a significant decrease in the frequency of ‘two predicate’ constructions. The change that heritage Ambon Malay is undergoing is thus not categorical, but rather involves a change in frequency of certain constructions. We argue that this ‘restructuring by changing frequency’ is due to a combination of factors: influence from Dutch, universal tendencies in language acquisition, and the language history of individual speakers. Apart from a quantitative difference, we also observe a qualitative difference between the give-constructions of heritage and homeland speakers of Ambon Malay: both groups use different prepositions in the prepositional object construction, a reflection of their different social histories.

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/content/journals/10.1163/19552629-00802004
2015-02-27
2018-04-26

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