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Contact-Induced Change in an Oceanic Language: The Paluai – Tok Pisin Case

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Many studies have focused on substrate influence on the creole languages of Melanesia – Tok Pisin, Solomons Pijin and Bislama. The same cannot be said with regard to influence in the opposite direction: contact-induced change occurring in local vernaculars due to pressure from the creole. This paper presents a case study of several instances of structural borrowing and semantic category change in Paluai, an Oceanic language spoken in Papua New Guinea. It is shown that a number of functional elements originating from Tok Pisin are now firmly embedded in Paluai grammar: two verbs, gat and inap, and a conjunction, taim. Moreover, semantic categories are undergoing change and possibly attrition due to many-to-one correspondences. This suggests that it is important to view language contact situations as dynamic and involving two-way processes of change.

Affiliations: 1: The Australian National University,


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