The debate as to whether syntax can be borrowed has spurred much scholarly inquiry among those who argue that syntax cannot be borrowed () and those in favor of the ‘anything-goes’ argument (Thomason, 2001). In contribution to this debate, this study examines the contact-induced processes behind the variation of Basque Differential Object Marking (dom). We examine the use of Basque dom in the spontaneous speech of 42 speakers whose variety has been in a long-standing contact with Spanish (Gernika Basque) and 15 speakers of a ‘newly’ standardized variety (Standard Basque). We additionally examine the spontaneous speech of their leísmo in order to make a case that Basque dom is not an example of syntactic borrowing but involves a process of replica grammaticalization () whereby speakers replicate their use of leísmo either through matter-borrowing, pattern-borrowing or a combination of both.
The present study aims to show that Basque Differential Object Marking (dom) is the result of intense contact with the Basque-Spanish Leísta Dialect (bld) and to determine the process by which Basque dom is a contact feature. Following theories of contact-induced phenomena in variationist sociolinguistics (), theories of dom () and grammaticalization theory (), the speech of 29 native speakers of Gernika Basque are examined, stratified by age and language dominance. Results from oral data show that animacy and specificity are the strongest predictors of Basque dom, followed by person and number. In terms of language specific constraints, the use of Spanish borrowed verbs and the null object character of the language strongly favors dom in Gernika Basque. It is proposed that Basque dom involves a complex process of ‘replica grammaticalization’, explaining the intertwined relationship between typological factors, contact-induced forces and language-specific constraints.