Contact-Induced Change and the Openness of 'Closed' Morphological Systems: Some Cases from Native America

in Journal of Language Contact
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Abstract

This paper examines the effects of contact-induced language change on the nominal and verbal inflectional morphology of several Native American languages, most of which have also replaced large amounts of their basic vocabulary with loans from other language. It shows that although there are few if any limitations on the kinds of concepts which may be expressed by borrowed items, borrowing as a source of morphological renewal is an infrequently-employed process in these languages, and even those languages which have borrowed heavily have not always borrowed the same types of morphemes from other languages. Information derived from diachronic inspection of inflectional morphology remains the most reliable means of classifying languages genealogically with accuracy.

Journal of Language Contact

Evolution of Languages, Contact and Discourse

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