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Sean Allison

Makary Kotoko, a Chadic language spoken in the flood plain directly south of Lake Chad in Cameroon, has an estimated 16,000 speakers. An analysis of a lexical database for the language shows that of the 3000 or so distinct lexical entries in the database, almost 1/3 (916 items) have been identified as borrowed from other languages in the region. The majority of the borrowings come from Kanuri, a Nilo-Saharan language of Nigeria, with an estimated number of speakers ranging from 1 to 4 million. In this article I first present the number of borrowings specifically from Kanuri relative to the total number of borrowed items in Makary Kotoko, and the lexical/grammatical categories in Makary Kotoko that have incorporated Kanuri borrowings. I follow this by presenting the linguistic evidence which not only suggests a possible time frame for when the borrowings from Kanuri came into Makary Kotoko, but also supports the idea that this is essentially a case of completed language contact. After discussing the lexical and grammatical borrowings from Kanuri into Makary Kotoko in detail, I explore the limited evidence in Makary Kotoko for lexical and grammatical ‘calquing’ from Kanuri, resulting in almost no structural diffusion from Kanuri into Makary Kotoko. I finish with a few proposals as to why this is the case in this instance of language contact in the Lake Chad basin.

Duaa Abu Elhija

This research examines borrowings from Hebrew into Arabic as used by Nazarene and Iksali1 Palestinian Israelis in the context of Arabic computer-mediated communication (cmc), specifically the written colloquial Palestinian Israeli dialect of Arabic in Facebook. The study focuses on the frequency of the borrowed items, phonological adaptation, and the reasons for borrowing from Hebrew. Three hypotheses are investigated: First, the most frequent borrowed items are nouns. Second, borrowed items are adapted to the Arabic phonological system. Finally, the main reasons for borrowing are to introduce culturally or technologically new concepts, as well as new ways to refer to preexisting notions. Most of these hypotheses are shown to be correct. However, the frequency of borrowing in the corpus does not reflect the intensity of the language contact between Hebrew and the Palestinian Israeli dialect. I describe the language contact situation between Hebrew and Arabic and demonstrate how intense it is, classifying it as falling between the third and fourth level of intensity according to Thomason and Kaufman’s (1988) borrowing scale. However, borrowing is restricted to lexical borrowing, particularly of nouns. I provide explanations that refer to the political and cultural situation (including identity issues) of Palestinian Israelis.

Robert Nicolaï

This paper is a linguistic, anthropological and philosophical exploration of language, with particular focus on language contact. The goal is not to address linguistic phenomena from a descriptive perspective, in the classical sense of the term, nor as if they were a “given”, and nothing further. Nor is the goal to craft a model. Instead it is an attempt to account for all relevant elements which (empirically) come into play in ordinary language use, considering them both in terms of language dynamics and in terms of language usage; this necessarily entails taking into consideration our own practices, as actors of communication and as builders of knowledge. We are ever stakeholders in this play (and its plays) because we are the ones who identify and/or attribute relevance.

In other words, this text is a reflection on the (our) frameworks established through communication practices (frameworks which naturally have an impact on the form of our tools, including languages!) It highlights that the objectivization of phenomena which underlies our practices (whether academic or not) is closely dependent on the means by which we grasp the phenomena—this is nothing new but is worth noting afresh.

Methodologically speaking, observing this point is an essential element in the elaboration of a theory to account for how phenomena are empirically grasped, and more particularly what it entails in the field of ‘language contact’.

Pui Yiu Szeto, Stephen Matthews and Virginia Yip

This paper examines the emergence of perfective aspect in Cantonese-English bilingual children from the perspective of contact-induced grammaticalization, focusing on the novel use of already. Although the adverbial already seems to serve a function similar to that of the Cantonese perfective marker zo2 in the bilingual children, other model constructions suggest that the function of already may combine those of several Cantonese particles such as the sentence-final particle laa3. The results suggest that in contact-induced grammaticalization, it is possible to develop a new category in the replica language based on multiple different but related categories in the model language. Adopting an evolutionary approach to language transmission (Mufwene, 2001), we discuss why grammaticalization in the Cantonese-English bilingual children does not seem to involve coevolution of form and meaning, why the grammaticalization phenomena in the bilingual children are only transient, and how the study of bilingual acquisition can contribute to contact linguistics.

When Language Resists. From Divergence to Language Dynamics

A Review Article of Stability and Divergence in Language Contact: Factors and Mechanisms (Braunmüller, Höder and Kühl, eds.)

Katja Ploog

The volume Stability and divergence in language contact: Factors and Mechanisms edited by Braunmüller, Höder and Kühl (2014) contains eleven studies about divergence and/or stability in language contact. The contributions plead for a differential description of language development (variation, change, stability) insofar as a given contact phenomenon makes sense in a different way from various perspectives. As convergence/divergence represent more/less structural harmony between languages in contact, the deeper sense of internal and external motivations (factors, mechanisms) of these dynamics is discussed. We argue that the key entity of development is the speaker, who takes the active part in the structuring process by an in-process positioning in discourse and the long-scale elaboration of his repertoire.

Shinji Ido

The present article describes the vowel chain shift that occurred in the variety of Tajik spoken by Jewish residents in Bukhara. It identifies the chain shift as constituting of an intermediate stage of the Northern Tajik chain shift and accordingly tentatively concludes that in the Northern Tajik chain shift Early New Persian ā shifted before ō did, shedding light on the process whereby the present-day Tajik vowel system was established. The article is divided into three parts. The first provides an explanation of the variety of Tajik spoken by Jewish inhabitants of Bukhara. The second section explains the relationship between this particular variety and other varieties that have been used by Jews in Central Asia. The third section deals specifically with the vowel system of the variety and the changes that it has undergone since the late 19th century.