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LINGUIST List 24.500

Tue Jan 29 2013

Review: Historical Ling.; Socioling.: Chamoreau & Léglise (2012)

Editor for this issue: Joseph Salmons <jsalmonslinguistlist.org>

Date: 29-Jan-2013
From: Thomas Owen-Smith <thomasowensmithgmail.com>
Subject: Dynamics of Contact-Induced Language Change
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Book announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/23/23-2020.html

EDITORS: Claudine Chamoreau, Isabelle Léglise
TITLE: Dynamics of Contact-Induced Language Change
SERIES: Language Contact and Bilingualism (LCB) 2
PUBLISHER: De Gruyter Mouton
YEAR: 2012

REVIEWER: Thomas Owen-Smith, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

SUMMARY
This volume comprises a diverse set of chapters investigating various aspects
of language change in contact situations. Chamoreau and Léglise set out the
essential aim of the book in the first paragraph: “the primary purpose … is to
identify different factors in language change” (p.1), and the topic is
examined over thirteen chapters by different authors.

The chapters address questions of contact and change in morphosyntax and
semantics from a number of viewpoints, and with differing levels of
language-specific focus. Several (e.g. Chamoreau, Epps) present new data and
analysis of small and under-researched languages, while others (e.g. Heine,
Bruno) apply recent theoretical developments to relatively well-researched
(including literary) languages. The discussions are not anchored in any
particular grammatical theory, but the editors state that the methodologies
used in the book “generally have their roots in a typological perspective”
(p.1). The geographical coverage includes one chapter on Indian Ocean creoles
and one on an Austronesian language, but otherwise there is quite a strong
gravity towards Latin America and Europe, with the majority of chapters
dealing predominantly or exclusively with languages from these regions.

Claudine Chamoreau and Isabelle Léglise,
A multi-modal approach to contact-induced language change
In the introductory chapter, the editors present the fundamentals of their
approach, stressing that linguistic change cannot be accounted for by one
single factor, but is rather a “dynamic domain of complex, complementary, and
correlated processes that have to be treated with a fine-grained approach”
(p.1), and that this complexity demands a framework which can take account of
all of these. They also introduce the other chapters, in terms of three
themes: i) the role of multilingual speakers in language change; ii) the
differences (and similarities) between change in “ordinary” contact situations
and in situations of language endangerment and obsolescence; and iii) the
relationships between contact-induced and internal change. These topics
introduce two (perhaps the two) crucial questions which must be usually
addressed in discussions of contact and change: whether a development in a
given situation involving language contact is due to structural or to social
factors, and whether it has occurred because of the linguistic contact (the
term “contact-induced” is used throughout the book for such a situation), or
“internally”, that is for reasons explicable by reference to the language
itself rather than due to contact. The assumption which informs a lot of the
work in the book is that all of the above factors “conspire” (together with
cross-linguistic tendencies), so contact and social factors can often compound
or strengthen tendencies which were already present in the linguistic ecology
of a language. The editors note that this is “a generally accepted phenomenon
in the field … but the role played by each process and their precise
relationship to each other is not always clear” (p.13).

Yaron Matras,
An activity-oriented approach to contact-induced language change
Matras argues that “innovative strategies occur in pursuit of specific
communicative goals” (p.23), and proposes that in situations involving
multilingualism, speakers make use of their repertoire of more than one
language to achieve a range of effects. Their licence to draw on their full
range, and their ability to regularly select the appropriate material, are of
course affected by the linguistic environment around them, and over the
chapter he looks at examples of various social settings which entail different
opportunities for or constraints on speakers with regard to these aspects of
their performance. This is the “activity-oriented approach”. He distinguishes
situations where social solidarity and shared linguistic competence encourage
creative use of forms and language mixing, and those where social stress and
the mental effort to cope with this cause interference and “malfunction” in
speakers’ selection of the appropriate terms. While both factors influence
individual speakers in particular situations, in circumstances of large-scale
multilingualism, they can develop into patterns which become generally
established amongst multilingual speakers, from which point they can spread to
the monolingual population(s).

Claudine Chamoreau,
Contact-induced change as an innovation
One of the editors, Chamoreau also contributes a chapter, in which she
presents an example of a situation where an element of a contact language is
adopted, but employed in a manner which does not exist in that language.
Specifically, this is how a Mesoamerican language Purepecha has adopted the
Spanish preposition ‘entre’ only as a comparative marker, a function for which
it is not used in Spanish. The adoption of comparative expressions involving
particles reflects a long and intense period of contact, over which Spanish
patterns (which appear not to have existed in the language as spoken in the
16th century) have entered Purepecha both through loanwords and calques,
displacing native strategies. Chamoreau proposes that the unusual use of
Spanish ‘entre’ for comparison serves to emphasise the independent linguistic
identity of Purepecha speakers, and notes that the employment of an element
with locative semantics for comparison is common cross-linguistically.

Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald,
Language contact in language obsolescence
Aikhenvald’s chapter investigates whether contact-induced changes proceed in a
different manner in a language which is falling into disuse, or whether they
follow patterns similar to those of any intense contact situation, with a
discussion of data from a number of Amazonian languages (though she also
refers to others). She notes the position of several scholars that
contact-induced change in obsolescent languages is similar to that in healthy
languages and it is above all the speed of change which distinguishes the two,
however she argues that apart from the general “simplification and reduction
of grammar and lexicon” (p.80) of obsolescent languages (even to the extent
that their genetic affiliation may become obscured), “a massive influx of
non-native forms…may result in unusual phenomena” (p.81), which sometimes
involve large-scale restructuring and/or elaboration of native categories in
favour of those of the dominant language. She gives several examples,
including the adoption of an inclusive/exclusive distinction in first person
plural, gender distinctions, oblique cases and classifiers (pp.89-94), and
notes that in the most extreme situations, the obsolescent language may
replicate dominant categories to such an extent that it can become almost like
a relexified version of the dominant language.

Ana Fernández Garay,
The emergence of a marked-nominative system in Tehuelche or Aonek’o ʔaʔjen: a
contact-induced change?
Pressure from other languages may lead to new patterns in a given language
without fully extinguishing aspects of the older (native) system. Fernández
Garay’s chapter discusses such a situation in Tehuelche, a language of
Patagonia, which saw the extension of an adnominal element from marking A (the
more agent-like argument in transitive clauses) to marking S (the argument of
an intransitive clause) as well. This constitutes the transition from a marked
ergative to a marked nominative system, and Fernández Garay proposes that it
developed due to Tehuelche speakers’ contact with Mapadungun, which has
nominative-accusative alignment. While verbal morphology preserves remnants of
the ergative system, where certain verbs (“group 1”) agree in gender with P
(the more patient-like argument in transitive clauses), the system appears to
be in the process of breaking down, as there is an apparently growing group of
verbs (“group 2”) which do not show this pattern. This and the fact that the
case morpheme under discussion is sometimes a preposition and sometimes a
postposition (which Fernández Garay also attributes to contact) give a
snapshot of opposing tendencies in a language under sustained social and
linguistic pressure.

Bernd Heine,
On polysemy copying and grammaticalization in language contact
Heine looks at the phenomenon of grammatical replication, “that is, a process
where speakers create a new grammatical meaning or structure in language R
(the replica language) on the model of some meaning or structure of another
language M (the model language)” (p.127), using his and Kuteva’s
grammaticalization model (2005, 2006, inter alia). This involves breaking down
the development of a grammatical morpheme into certain stages, which are
unidirectional: stage 2 can only follow stage 1, and so on. He examines data
from a large number of European languages, focusing on developments concerning
articles, possessive perfects, and auxiliation of verbs whose lexical meaning
is ‘threaten’, all of which he shows to have radiated out from the “core”
European languages (generally Romance and Germanic), into “peripheral”
European languages (Slavic, Celtic, etc.) which previously lacked them. The
kernel of Heine’s argument is that, although peripheral languages have
developed features which can be considered analogous to categories in the core
languages, their uses tend to be subject to a greater number of constraints,
and as such they are still at earlier stages of grammaticalization. He
concedes that why such constraints exist, and exactly how a given feature is
introduced from a model into a replica language, is still poorly understand,
and requires further research.

Thomas Stolz,
The attraction of indefinite articles: on the borrowing of Spanish ‘un’ in
Chamorro
Stolz discusses the adoption of the Spanish indefinite article in the
Austronesian language Chamorro (spoken on the Marianas Islands), and
subsequent developments of the morpheme following its incorporation into the
language’s morphosyntax. Considering the morpheme in the context of Heine and
Kuteva’s (2005, 2006, inter alia) grammaticalization framework, where
indefinite articles developing from the numeral ‘one’ are considered to
progress by stages from a pure numeral to a generalized article, he argues
that the usage of ‘un’ in Chamorro supports their claim that borrowed
morphemes will invariably be incorporated on the lowest stages of this scale.
However, the subsequent development of ‘un’ in this language has been
substantially different from the corresponding situations in European
languages. This is largely because it “has to compete with pre-Hispanic
strategies of indefiniteness marking (antipassive, common article, zero
article)” (p.188), which means that only certain (i.e. less grammaticalized)
parts of the full range of Spanish ‘un’ are attractive to Chamorro speakers,
who have other devices at their disposal. Based on the evidence of Chamorro,
Stolz concludes that once an element is borrowed “together with its least
grammaticalized properties, it develops largely language-internally,
especially if the pressure of the erstwhile prestige language ceases to be
strong” (p.190).

Patience Epps,
On form and function in language contact: a case study from the Amazonian
Vaupés region
Epps’ chapter examines aspects of the contact situation in the Vaupés region
of northwest Amazonia, which involves languages from three families (East
Tukanoan, Nadahup and Arawak), the speakers of which have a “negative attitude
towards language mixing” (p.196) and generally resist borrowing lexical items
and morphology (although the widespread calquing of constructions with native
material has led to convergence of grammar). The form ‘ni’ or similar etymons
which appear cognate occur as verbs of existence/location, equative copulas,
evidential operators, aspectual markers, light verbs in predicate chaining
constructions, and verbalizers across the area -- a situation which Epps
proposes is likely to have involved areal influence in some form, although she
admits that with the data at hand, it is not possible to ascertain exactly how
this has happened or where the form originated. Consequently she proposes that
the fact that ‘ni’ existed in some form in many of the relevant languages,
where it was (crucially) perceived as a native rather than a foreign element,
facilitated its extension into a wider range of structures, which would
probably have been resisted for an obviously foreign morpheme.

Julen Manterola,
The Basque articles ‘-a’ and ‘bat’ and recent contact theories
In another chapter discussing articles (and contact with Spanish), Manterola
offers a rigorous critique of Haase’s (1992) and Heine and Kuteva’s (2005,
2006, inter alia) analyses of the development of definite and indefinite
articles (‘-a’ and ‘bat’ respectively) in Basque. He argues that these authors
have not given enough importance to certain evidence, for instance
cross-dialectal and diachronic data, and states essentially that he disagrees
with attempting to solve a given problem by applying a general hypothesis
rather than by a thorough examination of the particularities of the data.
While Manterola in fact agrees with the above authors that “contact has played
a determining role” (p.257) in the development of the articles, he points to
the difficulty of claiming that the Basque definite article has been
replicated from a Romance model, as it is “more developed in its
grammaticalization path than its counterparts in Romance languages” (p.232).
Based on the particularities of Basque, he proposes that it is possible that
the extension of ‘bat’ could have been restricted by the very wide range of
‘-a’, and that ‘-a’ might have developed more to distinguish between singular
and plural rather than to mark definiteness.

Sibylle Kriegel,
Contact phenomena/code copying in Indian Ocean Creoles: the post-abolition
period
Kriegel looks at two elements in French-based Indian Ocean creoles: ‘depi’ as
ablative preposition in Mauritian Creole, and ‘pourdir’ as a complementizer in
Seychelles Creole, both of which are unusual, not being attested in other
French-based creoles. She considers these elements in Johanson’s framework of
code copying (2002). While in both cases the form is transparently French, the
range of use of each form appears to pattern with categories from languages
which became widely used on each of the islands following different
immigration patterns after the abolition of slavery in 1835: they are
therefore examples of covert copying. ‘depi’ conflates both a spatial ablative
and temporal meaning ‘since’ on a pattern of the Bhojpuri postposition ‘-se’
(which interestingly appears to have been identified with a preposition in the
copying code), while the lexicalized (and grammaticalized) ‘pourdir’ appears
to follow the pattern of complementizer constructions in Bantu languages.
While Kriegel admits that there is not conclusive proof that these are indeed
the explanations for the unusual patterns, her analysis raises the importance
of considering languages other than the base language in creoles.

Zarina Estrada-Fernández,
Grammaticalization of modal auxiliary verbs in Pima Bajo: an internal or a
contact-induced change?
Estrada-Fernández considers complex verbal constructions in a number of
Uto-Aztecan languages, setting out a typology which draws much from Anderson’s
(2005) study of auxiliary constructions. She shows that languages in the
family have a variety of patterns for encoding verbal complements: nominalized
constructions, morphologically complex predicates, analytical periphrastic
constructions (i.e. modal auxiliary verbs), and biclausal constructions
involving a subordinator. Drawing data from Nevome, an earlier stage of Pima
Bajo documented in the 17th century, she shows that the language has moved
from a more polysynthetic to a more analytic morphological profile. Part of
this trend has involved the development of analytic constructions involving
auxiliary verbs for expressing certain types of modal and aspectual
information, which appears to have been expressed by clitic morphemes in the
earlier period. Estrada-Fernández proposes that contact with Spanish may have
played a role in the development of such constructions, however she admits
that it is not possible to prove this, stating that her hypothesis “shall
remain descriptive rather than explanatory” (p.304).

Anthony P. Grant,
Contact, convergence, and conjunctions: a cross-linguistic study of borrowing
correlations among certain kinds of discourse, phrasal adverbial, and
dependent clause markers
Grant’s chapter investigates borrowing patterns of conjunctions and discourse
markers across languages and aims to shed light on the question of purported
“universals” in structural borrowing. He starts from Matras’ (1998) proposals
that there exist hierarchies in the order of borrowing, for instance that a
term equivalent to ‘but’ has to be borrowed before a term equivalent to ‘or’,
and these two before a term equivalent to ‘and’, etc. In an etic fashion
similar to Dahl’s (1985) TMA (Tense-Modality-Aspect) questionnaire, he surveys
from published sources 18 categories for which many languages use
conjunctions, particles, or various kinds of subordinating constructions,
across 22 diverse languages (including English) which are known to have
borrowed some proportion of the relevant material from other languages. The
data show various patterns of borrowing, including taking wholesale the form
and its function from the model language, replicating of the form with native
material, and cases where part of a construction is borrowed, and embedded in
native morphemes. From examples which go against the hierarchies proposed for
borrowing, Grant is able to show that these are not universals but merely
tendencies.

Carla Bruno,
On a Latin-Greek diachronic convergence: the perfects with Latin ‘habeo’ /
Greek ‘échō’ and a participle
In the final chapter, Bruno examines parallel structures in Latin/Romance and
Greek, looking at the structurally equivalent developments of perfect
constructions from possessive verbs and participles in these languages. She
discusses whether the development of these similar constructions could have
been influenced by contact between the two languages, or is more likely due to
independent parallel developments according to general tendencies which
related languages are likely to share. Bruno also considers why the
construction developed to become a core component of Romance tense/aspect
systems on the one hand, while in Greek it has always been marginal. The
answer to this question (as for several other examples in the book, discussed
in other chapters) lies in its structural opposition with other constructions
in the relevant languages. So while in Latin, “the emergence of the ‘habeo’
active periphrastic forms … results in the balancing of a perfective system
originally showing periphrastic forms only in middle structures” (p.366), in
Greek “the presence of a complex participial system has continuously
interfered with attempts to systematize the opposition between ‘eimí’ and
‘échō’ in auxiliating participles” (p.371).

EVALUATION
This volume certainly succeeds in presenting a variety of approaches to
language change and contact, and as such is a helpful resource for those who
are grappling with the complexities of language contact in their own research.
While the more general chapters (e.g. Matras, Heine) are especially useful in
this regard, as they present approaches which can be applied to essentially
any contact situation, the more language-specific chapters present data and
analysis of little-known languages and unusual developments, which also
enlarge our knowledge of what is possible in contact situations. Some of them
(e.g. Manterola) also provide data and analysis which question the ability of
the general approaches to account for all phenomena. This is also welcome, as
theories must be refined in a constant discourse with actual data.

The copy editing is generally very good: all examples are transparently
glossed according to the Leipzig glossing rules, and the instances of
typographical errors can probably be counted on two hands. The text flows well
for the most part, although there are some instances where information which
turns out to be quite important for the argument of the chapter is not
introduced as clearly or as early as it might be (for instance, in Fernández
Garay’s chapter the opposition between groups 1 and 2 of verbs in Tehuelche;
in Kriegel’s chapter the nature of the spatial and temporal syncretism of
Bhojpuri ‘-se’ and how exactly this caused Mauritian Creole ‘depi’ to be
extended from temporal to spatial expressions; and in Bruno’s chapter the fact
that in Modern Greek the construction involving ‘échō’ and the past passive
participle is extremely marginal and barely used). Several chapters also lack
lists of abbreviations used, and references have adopted the unhelpful
practice of including only initials rather than first names for authors.
However these matters are relatively minor, and do not significantly detract
from the generally high editorial and thematic quality of the work as a whole.

All chapters are thickly referenced, and situate their content within
discussions of contact and language change over recent decades. Heine and
Kuteva’s (2005, 2006 inter alia) framework of grammaticalization looms
particularly large, and a number of the contributors engage with it in detail,
either using it as the basis of their analysis (e.g. Heine, Stolz), or using
their analysis to critique this theory (Manterola). Other contact-centred
frameworks employed include Johanson’s (2002 inter alia) work on code copying
and Matras’ (1998 inter alia) proposals for hierarchies in borrowing, as well
as Thomason and Kaufman’s (1988) proposals about types of contact situations.

One of the book’s strengths as an edited volume is that it presents a
relatively diverse range of views and very detailed focus on particular topics
in relation to certain languages and areas: This plurality of voices and
interests gives the work a quality which would not really be possible in an
authored work. The theme(s) of the book can be considered to cohere, as apart
from fitting into the broad thematic structure outlined in the introductory
chapter, many chapters make points which are pertinent to other chapters. For
example, Stolz and Manterola actually reach similar conclusions from their
data (i.e. that structures are borrowed at an early stage of
grammaticalization, and after this develop in the replica language conditioned
by the existing structures in that language and independent from subsequent
developments in the one-time model language), though the two chapters take
quite different positions with regard to Heine and Kuteva’s approach.

While the contributors generally seem to share certain fundamental working
assumptions about the nature of contact and change (for instance, the
“conspiracy” of many factors), it is refreshing that they differ on some
points, for instance whether certain processes and tendencies should be seen
as universals (e.g. Matras, Heine) or merely tendencies (e.g. Grant,
Manterola). The contributors also differ somewhat in their willingness to go
“on record” saying that they believe the development they are discussing is
due to contact: some push the boat out (e.g. Epps, Kriegel) and say they
believe contact has played a decisive role, while others (e.g.
Estrada-Fernández, Bruno) merely point out that it could have.

Meagre and inconclusive data are a persistent problem in contact linguistics,
which combined with the subtlety of many aspects of contact such as code
copying means that perhaps little can actually be proven to the extent of
being watertight. However, through work which teases apart the complexities of
contact in particular situations, while relating these details to general
problems, we gradually move forward at least towards a fuller understanding of
the forces which can play a role in these processes. This book is a valuable
contribution in that direction.

REFERENCES
Anderson, Gregory D.S. 2005. Auxiliary Verb Constructions. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.

Dahl, Östen. 1985. Tense and aspect systems. Oxford and New York: Basil
Blackwell.

Haase, Martin. 1992. Sprachkontakt und Sprachwandel im Baskenland: Die
Einflüsse des Gaskognischen und Französischen auf das Baskische. Hamburg:
Helmut Buske.

Heine, Bernd and Tanya Kuteva. 2005. Language Contact and Grammatical Change.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Heine, Bernd and Tanya Kuteva. 2006. The Changing Languages of Europe. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.

Johanson, Lars. 2002. ‘Contact-induced linguistic change in a code-copying
framework’. In: Jones, Mari C. & Esch, Edith (eds.) Language change: The
interplay of internal, external and extra-linguistic factors. Berlin: Mouton
de Gruyter. Pp. 285-313.

Matras, Yaron. 1998. Utterance modifiers and universals of grammatical
borrowing. Linguistics 36: 281-331.

Thomason, Sarah G. and Terrence Kaufman. 1988. Language contact, creolization,
and genetic linguistics. Berkeley: University of California Press.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Thomas Owen-Smith is PhD candidate in the Department of Linguistics at the
School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. His
thesis focuses on aspects of the morphosyntax and semantics of Tamang, a
Tibeto-Burman language spoken in the Central Himalaya. His other research
interests include language contact and its historical dimensions (particularly
in Indo-European, Sino-Tibetan and Turkic); historical linguistics and
typology; and links between language and traditional knowledge, the
environment and agriculture.
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