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Abstract

This article has three goals. First, it provides a broad cross-linguistic survey of phonological change in contact situations focusing on the suprasegmental domain. The term suprasegmental refers here to syllable structure, stress patterns, tonal patterns, and vowel and nasal harmony systems. Secondly, it assesses phonological change to suprasegmental variables whereby external influence causes an increase in complexity in the recipient language’s structure. Thirdly, using insights from the phonological typology literature, it provides a preliminary framework to evaluate suprasegmental phenomena, which can then serve as an additional tool to disentangle inheritance from contact-induced change. Data from 45 languages suggest that the suprasegmental domain provides fertile ground for inspecting contact-influenced increases in linguistic complexity. Overall, we argue that the data reviewed here highlight the relevance of phonological structure as a variable in studies of language contact, which have been mostly preoccupied with morphosyntactic variables.

Open Access
In: Journal of Language Contact

Abstract

The universality of kinship terms means they are regarded, like much basic vocabulary, as resistant to borrowing. Kin term borrowings are documented at varying frequencies, but their role in the dynamics of change in this core social domain is understudied. We investigated the dimensions and the sociolinguistic contexts of kinship borrowings with 50 kinship categories from a global sample of 32 languages, a subset extracted from the World Loanword Database. We found that more borrowings take place in affinal kin categories and in generations denoting relatives older than ego. Close kin categories also have borrowings, but the borrowed items usually coexist with other, presumably non-borrowed variants. Colonisation and the spread of cultures and religions were main inducing forces for kin term borrowings; new terms often enter a language via bilingualism. These tentative patterns can be studied further with larger datasets in future systematic studies of kinship borrowings.

Open Access
In: Journal of Language Contact

Abstract

Sustainability of Greek as a heritage language in the United States is at stake at present due to the low rates of intergenerational transmission among its speakers, declining immigration from Greece and Cyprus, shortage of specialized teachers, lack of instructional time, old-fashioned teaching methods, and limited opportunities for using the language. This paper builds on the Capacity Development, Opportunity Creation, and Desire (COD) framework (Grin, 2003; Lo Bianco, 2008, Lo Bianco & Peyton, 2013) and elaborates on how a new community-based curriculum (Gavriilidou & Mitsiaki, 2022) can enable heritage Greek vitality by (a) developing capacity through proficiency- based learning (ACTFL, 2012) in formal and informal settings by laying the emphasis on all registers and linguistic varieties in terms of meaning and form; (b) creating opportunities for actual Greek heritage language use through engagement in community, school, and family contexts; and (c) enhancing motivation and desire to use heritage Greek through cognitively challenging content and experiential learning.

Open Access
In: Heritage Language Journal

Abstract

Previous studies disagree as to whether heritage bilinguals demonstrate loss of knowledge of Spanish grammatical gender. As phonetic variability is known to affect the acquisition of certain grammatical markers, we examine whether bilinguals’ gender difficulties relate to bilingual contact-induced phonetic variability, namely, reduction in the inventory of word-final unstressed vowels. We analyzed narratives from children in the United States (n = 49, ages 4–12). All NP  s (n = 1415) were analyzed for structure, noun class, and morphology. Word-final vowels were sub-selected for acoustic analyses. Morpho-syntactically, group results show high accuracy with gender (95%), but with wide individual variation (44%–100%). Speakers also show individual variability and substantive numbers of vowel misclassifications (6%–33%) with higher variability for /a/ and /o/. We found bilingual effects in both domains but no association between phonetics and gender accuracy. These findings have implications for the relationship between phonetics and grammar, and for the morphosyntax of Spanish gender.

Open Access
In: Heritage Language Journal
In: English Language Education in Rural Contexts

Abstract

In order to understand why languages become endangered, linguists must shift from documenting the last fluent speakers to documenting the larger ecology of language use in an area. The papers in this special issue all address different aspects of documenting language multilingualism. They address three related topics: (1) consideration of the state of multilingualism in endangered language ecologies; (2) tools and methods for transcribing, annotating, analyzing and presenting multilingual corpora; and (3) methods in documenting and studying language contact in process.

Open Access
In: Journal of Language Contact
Author:

Abstract

The objective of this paper is to examine how Chinese learners of EFL frame their complaints on English language learning (ELL) to understand their sense of entitlement to complain. Two basic complaint-frames are identified—complaint proper (Cp), which communicates entitlement in blaming and asking for correction of what is intrinsically correctable, and lament (Lt), which conveys the lack thereof by simply ‘lamenting’ something that cannot be solved. Though Cp and Lt appear, therefore, tied to specific concern-kinds, the inherently addressable and unaddressable, respectively, their actual use depends on the perception of the complaint-concern and the relative power of the complainant. When Cp is selected, subordinate status may require diminished expression of entitlement. This is not achieved by mitigating face-threat. Rather, it is necessary to modify the complaint-framing by selecting more, rather than less, Lt-defining features. Applied to complaints on ELL, in the Chinese context, it is found that this inherently Cp-appropriate, patently addressable problem is only, and always, used with mitigation and/or ‘Lt-ization’ to convey deference and/or disentitlement. In the vast majority, students address limitations in program implementation—in authentic language use, and the opportunity for individual thought, creativity and self-determination—in complaints that suggest disaffection and disenfranchisement.

Open Access
In: International Review of Pragmatics

Abstract

This paper investigates the origins of Guianese French Creole. Whereas the existing literature assumes Guianese was formed in situ, we argue the creole is in fact genetically related to Lesser Antillean French Creole. We support our hypothesis by means of a range of comparative linguistic data. Furthermore, a historical framework is provided that accounts for linguistic transfer from the Lesser Antilles to French Guiana in the second half of the 17th century.

Open Access
In: Journal of Language Contact
Author:

Abstract

Israbic is a language variety that is spoken by a majority of the Druze community in Israel and is characterised by a mixture of Israeli Hebrew and Palestinian Arabic. Longitudinal data of Palestinian Arabic/Israeli Hebrew code-switching from the Israeli Druze community collected in 2000, 2017 and 2018 indicate that Israbic went through a gradual process of language mixing. The process started with code-switching, was followed by a composite matrix language formation and ultimately resulted in a mixed language. Some linguists (see ; ) claim that mixed languages cannot arise out of code-switching. Conversely, others (see ; ) have proposed theoretical models to mixed languages as outcomes of code-switching, and some (see ; ; ; ) have provided empirical evidence under which mixed languages arise out of code-switching. This research sought to gather further empirical evidence showing that Israbic is another mixed language that arose out of code-switching. This study also wished to emphasise the uniqueness of Israbic, which is a mixture of closely related languages. Such mixtures are scarce in the literature (). An examination of Israbic in relation to Auer’s and Myers-Scotton’s models and general definitions in the literature and comparisons of Israbic with other widely accepted mixed languages reveals that Israbic is an excellent example of a mixed language. However, such models and definitions are based on existing languages that have been subject to discussion in the literature. Of these languages, the majority arose from contact between languages from different language families, whereas this study is concerned with investigating a mixed language from the same language family. Thus, this raises the question as to whether such concepts have the same validity for closely related languages.

Open Access
In: Journal of Language Contact

Abstract

Bilingual speakers of typologically closely related languages tend to frequently experience language transfer, which suggests that similarity between languages is likely to play an important role in the transfer process. In this paper, we explore how three different types of similarity affect transfer of light verb constructions (lvc s), such as take a walk or set an alarm, from Dutch to German by native German speakers living in the Netherlands, namely: (a) similarity to existing constructions, (b) surface similarity based on whether the noun in the lvc is a cognate in Dutch and German, and (c) similarity in the light verb’s collocational contexts. The results suggest that all three types of similarity influence transfer: speakers add similar constructions to their language and they drop existing ones that happen to be less similar, ultimately facilitating convergence across the speakers’ languages.

Open Access
In: Journal of Language Contact