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Jesse Stewart, Felicity Meakins, Cassandra Algy and Angelina Joshua

This study tests the effect of multilingualism and language contact on consonant perception. Here, we explore the emergence of phonological stratification using two alternative forced-choice (2afc) identification task experiments to test listener perception of stop voicing with contrasting minimal pairs modified along a 10-step continuum. We examine a unique language ecology consisting of three languages spoken in Northern Territory, Australia: Roper Kriol (an English-lexifier creole language), Gurindji (Pama-Nyungan), and Gurindji Kriol (a mixed language derived from Gurindji and Kriol). In addition, this study focuses on three distinct age groups: children (group i, 8>), preteens to middle-aged adults (group ii, 10–58), and older adults (group iii, 65+). Results reveal that both Kriol and Gurindji Kriol listeners in group ii contrast the labial series [p] and [b]. Contrarily, while alveolar [t] and velar [k] were consistently identifiable by the majority of participants (74%), their voiced counterparts ([d] and [g]) showed random response patterns by 61% of the participants. Responses to the voiced stimuli from the preteen-adult Kriol group were, however, significantly more consistent than in the Gurindji Kriol group, suggesting Kriol listeners may be further along in acquiring the voicing contrast. Significant results regarding listener exposure to Standard English in both language groups also suggests constant exposure to English maybe a catalyst for setting this change in motion. The more varied responses from the Gurindji, Kriol, and Gurindji Kriol listeners in groups ii and iii, who have little exposure to English, help support these findings.

Eitan Grossman

The present article takes a quantitative approach to investigating contact-induced change, using typological parameters established for the purposes of cross-linguistic comparison. Specifically, it examines the likelihood that a socio-politically dominant language, Greek (Indo-European), influenced the morphological structure of a socio-politically subordinate indigenous language, Coptic (Afroasiatic). Based on the high prefixing score of Coptic and the much lower prefixing score of Greek, it is concluded that it is highly unlikely that Greek had any significant or direct influence on the strong prefixing preference of Coptic.

Zygmunt Frajzyngier

The present article proposes a non-aprioristic approach to analyzing the domains of information structure and reference systems. The article is inspired by the papers in Information structuring of spoken language from a cross-linguistic perspective (Fernandez-Vest and Van Valin (eds.), 2016), and from my own research on languages for which only spoken data exist. As an outcome of this study it may turn out that ‘information structure’ and ‘reference system’ each constitute a distinct functional domain in some languages. The study addresses some of the most interesting findings in languages discussed in the volume, supplemented by my own findings on a variety of languages.

Robert Nicolaï

The issue of ‘language contact’ has been widely explored from the perspectives of empirical description and theoretical development, as well as from sociolinguistic, societal and cognitive angles. I would like to broach the subject from a different view, to deepen reflections of an epistemological and methodological order, building on my “distanced” (but empirically grounded) examination of language contact and semiotic dynamics (Nicolaï, 2011, 2017a, 2017b). Several notions will be further explored and specified here, such as: givens, constructs, historicity and WE . The goal is to structure research trajectories by highlighting both the relative relativity of our epistemic understanding and the extent of our subjectivity in context. On this basis, positions can be taken, most notably on the possible circularity of the hypotheses we posit. General learnings can be gleaned from these elements for grasping language contact, the dynamics driving their transformation, as well as general processes for ascribing meaning and developing significance, which in the end converge with current hermeneutic approaches and enactive views.

Tania Kuteva, Seongha Rhee, Debra Ziegeler and Jessica Sabban

This article focuses on one particular linguistic feature of Singapore Colloquial English (sce), sentence-final what, which has been referred to as an ‘objection particle’.

sce (Smith, 1985: 126)

Context: Discussion of a student who is going overseas for one month and will be missing classes.

a. He’ll never pass the third year.

b. It’s only for one month what.

Sentence-final what in sce is analyzed in its (synchronic) behavior and (diachronic) development, and the proposal made by the authors is that sentence-final what is a result of a process which started in British English.

Anna Mikhaylova

The Bottleneck Hypothesis (Slabakova, 2008) assumes functional morphology to be a particular challenge in second language (L2) acquisition whereas acquisition of syntax and semantics to be unproblematic. I propose, following Polinsky (2011), that functional morphology can be seen as an acquisitional bottleneck for heritage language (hl) speakers as well. Russian verbal aspect is known to be problematic in bilingual Russian children (Anstatt, 2008; Gupol, 2009), in adult foreign language learners (Slabakova, 2005, Nossalik, 2009) and in Russian heritage speakers of low (Polinsky, 2008) and even near-native fluency (Laleko, 2010).

This comprehension study tested fluent and literate English dominant hl speakers of Russian on their interpretation of lexical and grammatical aspect. The findings suggest that the semantics and syntax of aspect were unproblematic, but aspectual morphology played both a facilitative and a hindering role in the comprehension of aspectual distinctions. In the untimed Semantic Entailments task, where participants chose the most logical continuation of an utterance, the morphological complexity of secondary imperfectives coupled with their semantic complexity, hindered hl interpretations. In contrast, in the Stop-Making-Sense self-paced reading task, in which participants read sentences one word at a time, the idiosyncratic morphology marking lexical aspect hindered hl processing, while the regular mechanism of marking grammatical aspect facilitated it.

Jérôme Lentin and Catherine Taine-Cheikh

With this detailed and comprehensive survey, Maarten Kossmann provides not only Berberists and Arabists, but also all linguists interested in language contact and related issues, with an impressive amount of data and with food for thought. Based on considerable documentation, his work offers a synthesis that had never been attempted before of most of the elements in the Maghrebian Berber languages that could be considered to be borrowings from Arabic, with a careful evaluation, in each case, of the validity of such an attribution. For this purpose, the author gives a summary of the relevant Arabic facts, followed by a detailed account of the Berber ones, which often leads him to real small monographic treatments of problems. From this point of view, his work can be considered, at least regarding the many issues studied, a historical and comparative grammar of ‘Northern Berber’. Therefore it seemed to us that this significant work deserved far more than a short notice, and we decided to review it in detail.