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Abstract

In this paper we present a new, lexicon-based phylogeny of 34 Southern Bantu languages, and combine it with previous insights from linguistics, archaeology, and genetics to study the history of Southern Bantu languages and their speakers. Our phylogeny shows all Southern Bantu languages to derive from a single, direct ancestor, which contrasts with archaeological evidence indicating separate migrations of Bantu speakers into southern Africa. This suggests that the Bantu languages spoken by the first migrants became extinct, and the ancestor of present-day Southern Bantu languages only emerged in southern Africa during the second millennium CE. We also map the distribution of previously established or suspected Khoisan-derived linguistic features in Southern Bantu languages onto this phylogeny. Evidence for intensive contact with speakers of Khoisan languages also comes from population genetics, which shows that Khoisan linguistic influence is mainly seen in languages spoken by populations displaying a higher degree of genetic admixture.

Open Access
In: Language Dynamics and Change

Abstract

It is now clear that languages not-genetically related can come to share syntactic structures that were not necessarily borrowed directly in their modern forms. Although it can be challenging to spot these structures, striking similarities in certain patterns and in fine details of usage may shed light on this process. Not only may spotting the patterns be a difficult task, but also establishing the source of diffusion of a trait (i.e., who passed it to whom). These points are illustrated here with constructions termed ‘adverbial clauses’. Examples are drawn from Mixtec languages. The analysis focuses on six types of adverbial clauses. In particular, it is explained how several Mixtec adverbial clause-linking strategies may have spread to Huasteca Nahuatl (Uto-Aztecan) and vice versa.

In: Journal of Language Contact
Author:

Abstract

The paper presents an analysis of Nahuatl coinages for six artifacts: ‘bicycle,’ ‘car,’ ‘clock,’ ‘key,’ ‘pen,’ and ‘umbrella,’ as attested in interviews with speakers from four communities in Mexico. These artifacts have been selected because of their shared characteristics: the terms for them do not belong to the core vocabulary; they tend to be referred to with Spanish loanwords or with terms created ad hoc using descriptive phrases; the non-borrowed terminology for them is highly varied. The analysis reveals that, despite the ongoing process of language shift and pervasive borrowing from Spanish, new terminology continues to be created in Nahuatl both innovatively and according to established patterns of word formation inherited from previous stages of language contact. This suggests that even a situation of language marginalization, displacement and massive substitutive borrowing, does not impair speakers’ ability to create new lexemes according to established patterns, or the ability to innovate morphosemantic patterns.

In: Journal of Language Contact

Abstract

This study uses an innovative translation task method to explore second person singular (2ps) address patterns in New York City Spanish (nycs), a new dialect that formed in contact with English and among multiple dialects of Spanish. Results reveal more continuity than disruption in address choice with source varieties of Spanish, unlike some other diasporic language communities that show radical simplification in address systems. However, there was acceleration of trends found in most Spanish-speaking regions with greater use of the familiar tuteo variant over the formal ustedeo in apparent time. Our findings also point to spending adolescence in nyc as a key predictor of conformity to nycs patterns. This finding contrasts with studies of formal features in new dialect formation that have found middle childhood to be when conformity to local patterns mostly occurs.

In: Journal of Language Contact
Free access
In: Journal of Language Contact

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
Authors: , , and

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
Free access
In: Journal of Jewish Languages