* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
LINGUIST List logo Eastern Michigan University Wayne State University *
* People & Organizations * Jobs * Calls & Conferences * Publications * Language Resources * Text & Computer Tools * Teaching & Learning * Mailing Lists * Search *
* *

LINGUIST List 24.613

Sat Feb 02 2013

Review: Morphology; Ling. Theories: Vanhove et al. (2012)

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

Date: 31-Dec-2012
From: Christopher Batteen <batteencyahoo.com>
Subject: Morphologies in Contact
E-mail this message to a friend

Discuss this message

Book announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/23/23-3059.html

EDITOR: Martine Vanhove
EDITOR: Thomas Stolz
EDITOR: Aina S. Urdze
EDITOR: Hitomi Otsuka
TITLE: Morphologies in Contact
SERIES TITLE: Studia typologica
PUBLISHER: Akademie Verlag GmbH
YEAR: 2012

REVIEWER: Christopher Batteen

This collection’s purpose is to bring together two subfields, morphology and
language contact, to provide into cohesive analyses of language systems or
situations of language contact an area where there’s been relatively limited
work to date (e.g. Boretzky & Igla 1994, Gardani 2008, Wilkins 1996). Each of
the 14 articles in this collection contributes to this intersection of
morphology and language contact and come from differing perspectives focusing
on how situations of language contact lead to morphological change or
rearrangement and in particular, contact influences on bound morphology. The
book itself is organized into six parts headed by either geographical area or
language family groupings: Amerindia, Austronesia, Balkan (and beyond),
Romance, Slavic (outside the Slavic core area), and Africa. Preceding these
articles is a preface by the editors (Martine Vanhove, Thomas Stolz, Hitomi
Otsuka, & Aina Urdze) detailing the goals of the project coming out of the
international conference on Morphologies in Contact at the University of
Bremen in October 2009. The volume closes with a list of contributors and
separate indexes for authors, languages, and subjects.

Part I Amerindia contains three articles. Marianne Mithun (“Morphologies in
contact: form, meaning, and use in the grammar of reference”), Françoise Rose
(“Borrowing of a Cariban number marker into three Tupi-Guarani languages”),
and Claudine Chamoreau (“Spanish diminutive markers –it-/-ita in Mesoamerican
languages: A challenge for acceptance of gender distinction”).

Mithun argues that lexical forms do not always copy (‘get borrowed’) from one
language to the other, but instead a morpho-semantic pattern can spread
through language contact. She looks at northern California languages,
primarily Yuki and Wappo which are related, and compares them to Pomo
(primarily) and also Wintun languages, also unrelated. The strongest evidence
is a grammatical marking pattern on pronouns. Both Yuki and Pomo have an
agent-patient argument pronominal system (semantic-based), while Wappo,
instead, has a nominative-accusative system. The actual forms of the pronouns
vary between Yuki and Pomo, but the grammatical marking patterns mirror each
other. Mithun argues that Yuki innovated its case marking system (including
pronoun selection) based on contact with Poma, while Wappo lacked these
innovations. The forms themselves did not get copied. Other evidence of
these types of innovations is found with the inclusive/exclusive first person
plural distinction, third person referential (only) type distinction, and
reference across sentences.

Rose discusses the bound plural morpheme (*komo) in three Tupi-Guarani
languages: Wayampi, Emerillon, and Zoᶦé. This morpheme, which was used as a
collective marker, came into three languages through contact with the Cariban
language family. No other bound morphemes have been borrowed into these three
languages (and no other Tupi-Guarani language uses this morpheme). Rose
discusses whether this bound morpheme comes from ancient contact between the
Cariban and Tupi or more recent contact, and dismisses historical evidence for
ancient contact. The Cariban languages use this form across the entire family
as a collective marker suggesting that more recent contact is more likely the
source of the innovation. Wayampi, Emerillon, and Zoᶦé are discussed
regarding their structural similarities with the Cariban languages.

Chamoreau discusses diminutive markers (-ito/-ita) in Spanish which encode
both gender and diminutive status. Some Mesoamerican languages have borrowed
this marker although they already have diminutives. The author argues for a
structural motivation for this borrowing, that is, that this category
(diminutive) is conveyed via a suffix. Gender distinction is not carried over
to the recipient language if it had no gender to begin with -- Only Yucatec
Maya has native grammatical gender distinctions. Mesoamerican languages vary
in how they natively form diminutives. Tepehua uses a phonological process of
sounds being articulated further forward in the mouth, Tepehua and Purepecha
use a separate word, and Nahuatl uses a suffix. The author categorizes the
marker’s borrowing into three patterns: in Tepehua, it is found only on names
(sometimes restricted to Spanish names) or Spanish lexical borrowings, in
Purepecha, Central Mexicano, and Mexicanero de la Sierra Madre Occidental,
only one marker (--ito) is borrowed meaning diminutive (so no gender
distinction) but (--ita) is still found in lexical borrowings, in Yucatec both
markers are borrowed to encode gender. Diminutive doubling is also found
throughout these languages.

Part II Austronesia has only one article, Thomas Stolz (“Survival in a niche:
On gender-copy in Chamorro (and sundry languages)”). The author argues that
Chamorro, spoken in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands and
Guam, has adapted (at least sex-based) gender including gender agreement with
adjectives from Spanish. While gender is not frequently transferred via
language contact, Stolz argues for that case with Chamorro. While Chamorro is
no longer in contact with Spanish, post-contact Chamorro was changed immensely
by earlier contact with Spanish. Gender markers are only found on Spanish
loans and Spanish adjectives and other modifiers agree with masculine gender
unless the head is semantically feminine. Gender may only be analyzable on a
small subset of the lexicon, but the author provides evidence of productive
gender agreement in Chamorro and not just memorized Spanish loan forms.

Part III Balkan (and beyond) presents four articles: Evangelia Adamou (“Verb
morphologies in contact: evidence from the Balkan area”), Birgit Igla & Irene
Sechidou (“Romani in contact with Bulgarian and Greek: replication in verbal
morphology”), Angela Ralli (“Morphology in language contact: verbal loanblend
formation in Asia Minor Greek (Aivaliot)”), and Lars Johanson (“Mood meets
mood: Turkic versus Indo-European”).

Adamou provides a typology of verb morphology under contact for Romani
(mainly), but also Greek, Turkish, and Pomak. Language contact typologies
include borrowing, grammatical replication, loan verb marker, and innovation.
Form and meaning are transmitted during borrowing. Meaning and structure but
not form are transmitted during grammatical replication. Loan verb markers
occur when a form changes its meaning. Innovation is the process of
lexicalization for a different meaning. Paradigm transfer of Turkish bound
person morphemes into Romani is a case of borrowing. Backward diffusion
occurs in Turkish and Slavic when borrowed morphemes apply to native recipient
language verbs (Romani). A case of novel creation involves an obligatory past
tense evidential marker in Turkish being adopted in Romani meaning
‘allegedly’. Loan verb markers from Turkish verbs are borrowed into Romani,
but the evidential function is lost. A Greek verb marker loses its aorist
function in Pomak. Forward diffusion involves borrowing loan verb markers
from one language and affixing to verbs from a third language. The Greek
aorist marker applies to English verbs in Angloromani although it has lost the
aorist function. Nashta (Slavic) becomes more like Greek in function and
structure (but not form) in some verbal inflections.

Igla and Sechidou suggest that Romani has replicated an analytic reflexive
structure from Bulgarian and a synthetic passive structure from Greek.
Bulgarian and Greek use the same marker in both the passive and reflexive
structures. Greek has both analytic and synthetic reflexives, although the
synthetic reflexive is more dominant pattern, while Bulgarian has only
analytic patterns. The split pattern in Romani is argued to be made possible
due to Romani speakers in Greece and Bulgaria. Greek Romani speakers
replicate the synthetic reflexive construction used by Greek speakers. This
allows two structures, both an analytic and a synthetic reflexive structure,
to be used by Greek Romani speakers. Likewise, Bulgarian Romani speakers
extend a reflexive pronoun to synthetic (Class II) verbs which already have a
bound suffix for intransitives. Gradually the reflexive pronoun became
associated with the intransitive/passive suffix, thereby ensuring an analytic
structure for Romani passives.

Ralli discusses Turkish verb loans and loanblends in Aivaliot.
Language-internal considerations (Greek structure) trump external factors
presented by Turkish loans. The degree of bilingualism does not influence the
morphological integration of such verbs and verbs are borrowed with the same
frequency of nouns. A variety of Greek verbalizer morphemes appear on Turkish
loan nouns while only one such morpheme is associated with Turkish loan verbs.
Phonological reasons are suggested as being the reason that this morpheme is
associated for Turkish origin verbs and not nouns. A Turkish past tense
morpheme -di is always found on the Turkish origin verbs, but is left
unanalyzed by Aivaliot speakers, providing a phonological environment in which
only one Greek verbalizer can be affixed. While Ralli suggests that
Greek-internal structural factors are most important, she concedes that
external factors from source languages also do matter. Turkish loans in Greek
can take Greek affixation without a problem, unlike English loan verbs.
English loan verbs are found in a light verb (‘do’ + verb) construction. This
structural difference is not attributed to bilingualism, because while
bilingualism is not prevalent among Turkish and Greek speakers, it is
prevalent among Greek-American speakers (those who employ the light verb

Johanson suggests that mood markers and their structures in Turkic languages
resemble those of Indo-European languages. Some convergence of these language
families is evident, because these structures are similar enough due to
frequent copying. Synthetic mood markers such as optative, voluntative,
hypothetical, necessitative, and purpose attach as suffixes to a lexical verb
in Turkic. These structures are represented by periphrastic modal
constructions in which the lexical verb has a mood marker attached. If the
subject is the same in both clauses, then an uninflected verbal noun is found,
while the verbal noun is person marked in constructions which have different
subjects. The “non-canonical” pattern, however, includes a junction between
the two clauses. Examples from Ottoman Turkish, Cypriot Turkish, Azeri, Iraq
Oghuz, Khorasan Oghuz, Gagauz, and Colloquial Turkish are given as evidence in
showing these patterns.

Part IV Romance contains three articles: Michele Loporcaro (“Contact-induced
change in personal pronouns: some Romance examples”), Immacolata Pinto (“The
influence of loanwords on Sardinian word formation”), and Mauro Tosco
(“Swinging back the pendulum: French morphology and de-Italianization in

Loporcaro discusses the role of contact in personal pronoun change in
Italo-Romance languages. He compares case marking on personal pronouns in
Standard Italian (and other Romance languages) with Latin. Some case
distinctions are neutralized (contact-induced). Objects are derived from
Latin datives in Logudorese Sardinian, but Standard Italian takes the
accusative forms. Campidanese uses nominative forms for all functions due to
contact with Catalan. The neutralization of some of these case distinctions
is argued to be due to contact, because this would be less likely to occur
outside the contact situations (Thomason 2003). Gender neutralization is
contact induced in Logudorese and Gallurese. ''Contact put the gender marking
system under pressure, in the first place, and this yielded a predictable
result (a convergent system in the replica language, copying that of the model
language) for all other word classes (p. 222).''

Pinto analyzes Sardinian morphological processes. Sardinian has very few
productive prefixes (three), and gains no new ones through loanword
adaptation. External factors play an important role in this diffusion. Pinto
quantifies occurrences of prefixes and suffixes (among other morphological
processes) of native and non-native words in a corpus. These are categorized
into three “layers”: inherited Latin, complex Sardinian (with affixation),
loan layer (mainly from Spanish and Catalan). Pinto discusses the percentage
of occurrences of various affixes (prefix, suffix, etc.) in each particular
layer. No prefixes are gained via loanword adaptation, although suffixes are.
Socio-historical reasons are claimed to be most important here, but genetic
motivations are also argued to play a role. Pinto claims that prefixes were
prevalent in Latin and other Romance languages due to written texts.

Tosco discusses the “ausbauization” of Piedmontese, a process of language
change due to revitalization and planning. These changes have been influenced
by the acceptance of neighboring French and a rejection of Italian influence.
Previously, Piedmontese existed in a stable multi-glossic situation with both
Italian and French. With the rise of the Italian national state, Piedmontese
has recently been endangered of becoming too “Italianized” and French has
become a ''foreign'' language. Tosco suggests Piedmontese has undergone a
process of ausbauization as evidenced by orthographic choices, variety choice,
and corpus planning. Lexical form/meaning correspondences of words illustrate
this process. Socio-historical factors matter most: ''Ultimately, it is
ideology and politics which make the difference, not linguistics” (p. 261).

Part V Slavic (outside the Slavic core area) consists of two articles:
Antonietta Marra (“Contact phenomena in the Slavic of Molise: some remarks
about nouns and prepositional phrases”) and Lenka Zajícová (“Language contact,
language decay and morphological change: evidence from the speech of Czech
immigrants in Paraguay”).

Marra analyzes a Slavic variety, Molise, suggesting that contact with Romance
helped establish preposition use in Molise. Gender marking of nouns is
discussed, along with preposition use and case-marking. The neuter gender in
Molise disappears and previously neuter forms become either masculine or
feminine. Loanwords from Romance keep their original gender when they are
integrated into Molise. Native Molise had a complex case system of
inflectional morphology, but lacked prepositions, while Romance lacked the
case-marking system, but provided prepositions. Modern Molise integrates both
prepositions and case-marking. Interference from an 'in' prepositional phrase
allows accusative marking on the noun, but if a Romance numeral loanword
precedes the noun, then case is not marked. A reorganization of the case
system has taken place, especially in regards to locatives. Both stative and
motion functions of locatives are neutralized, marked by accusatives.

Zajícová discusses a Czech community in Paraguay whose Czech is heavily
influenced by contact with local Spanish. This bilingual community is
composed of first, second, and third generation speakers. Contact of Czech
and Spanish drives speaker-creativity leading to morphological innovation.
Grammatical systemization is not fully established, but there are some trends
in speaker idiolects. Degrees of bilingualism vary: fluent speakers of
Czech, rusty speakers, semi-speakers, and remembers (not analyzed). Three
forces of language change are suggested processes: analogy, other language
influence, and attrition. Fluent speakers of both Czech and Spanish show
morphological changes. They use singular noun forms instead of plurals and
adopt a masculine suffix. Spanish roots are used in Czech sentences. Spanish
bound morphemes are found on Czech roots in Czech discourse. Spanish
possessive pronouns co-occur with Czech ones. Semi-speakers lack
‘systematization’, that is, Czech use is highly creative and idiolectal.
Attrition does not eliminate case morphology in Czech, but instead rearranges
morphology in various patterns based on idiolect. Certain forms of specific
words are lost, not the case ending itself.

Part VI Africa has only one article, Martine Vanhove (“Roots and patterns in
Beja (Cushitic): the issue of language contact with Arabic”). Vanhove
discusses a root and pattern typology in Beja, which has a morphological
system similar to Arabic. Other Cushitic languages lack this similarity with
Arabic and convergence between Beja and Arabic is argued to be the result,
rather than borrowing, copying, or replication from Arabic forms.
Bilingualism of men (there is less bilingualism among women) in both Beja and
Arabic plays a role in convergence. “Beja is the only Cushitic language that
uses qualitative ablaut in the stem as a derivational device, for the
expression of various semantic and voice derivations (p. 315).” Beja
differentiates between active and reflexive voices by alternating vowels,
while other Cushitic languages do not. Beja and Arabic have root and
consonant systems showing structural convergence, although the forms and
meanings differ. This morphological system is less developed in Afar and Saho
(other Cushitic languages), so the influence of Arabic on Beja is substantial.

“Morphologies in Contact” successful sheds light on a rarely researched topic.
It contains numerous perspectives, methodologies, and case studies, but each
investigation focuses on language contact and functional aspects of

A central issue addresses in each article whether internal factors, such as
structural considerations of the languages that copy or replicate morphemes
under contact, are more important or if instead external factors matter more,
such as bilingualism, length of contact, and socio-historical influence.
While each article addresses the nuances of both internal and external factors
involved in a contact situation, certain authors are more firmly on one side
(or the other) in this debate.

Chomoreau and Ralli stress the importance of language internal structure.
Chamoreau emphasizes that the adaptation of a Spanish diminutive marker did
not permit the adaptation of grammatical gender in languages which did not
already have a gender system, and suggested that the diminutive marker
fulfilled a structural purpose in these languages and not as a result of
degree or length of contact. The cross-linguistic evidence is well organized
and utilized. Ralli makes a relevant point regarding degree of bilingualism
and structural adaption. Bilingualism is not prevalent among Turkish and
Greek speakers although Greek inflection is found on Turkish verbs, but
prevalent among Greek-American speakers who cannot inflect English verbs with
Greek affixation. This is given as evidence to indicate that structural
reasons trump sociolinguistic factors of bilingualism, which is particularly

On the other side of this debate is presented in articles by Tosco, Pinto, and
Zajícová. External factors such as socio-historical settings and bilingualism
are the central reasons guiding morphological influence from a contact
situation. Tosco pays close attention to ausbauization, which is a very
active form of language planning and revitalization. The current
socio-historical situation of Piedmontese involves a active rejection of
Italian influence and acceptance of French forms into the variety. Pinto
suggests that Latin or French prefixes were diffused into modern varieties of
Sardinian via texts, although this, I believe, is dissatisfying in terms of
being a main motivating factor or at least hard to support. Zajícová tells
the beginning of a story of potential language shift in a bilingual community.
The morphological implications based on the bilingual fluency of speakers in
such a community is particularly interesting, although if language shift
completes where does that leave the status of Czech bound morphology on
Spanish lexical items or vice-versa?

Another relevant topic gets at how morphology is influenced via language
contact. Some authors discuss situations where the phonological forms
themselves do not copy. Mithun, Johanson, and Vanhove discuss replication and
convergence of morphological patterns caused by bilingualism. Other authors
focus on a specific morpheme that is copied during a contact situation and its
distributions, functions, and structures. Rose, Chamoreau, Stolz, Loporcaro,
Marra, and Igla & Sechidou focus entirely on one copied morphological process/
morpheme. These instances of morpheme copying are easier to argue than
replication and convergence, although Mithun provides a clear discussion of
historical reconstruction that is particularly compelling. Adamou proposes
typologies of different types of contact induced morphological changes in the
Balkans. One author, Zajícová, even tackles individual morphological
considerations in a bilingual community, which provides a viewpoint that
focuses on the language faculty itself.

This volume is particularly appealing for those looking for empirical studies
on morphology and language contact and it provides a direction for future
research in that area.

Boretzky, Norbert & Igla, Birgit. 1994. Interferenz und Sprachwandel. In
Benedikt Jessing (ed.), Sprachdynamik. Auf dem Weg zu einer Typologie
sprachlichen Wandels. Vol. III: Interferenzlinguistik, 7-139. Bochum:

Gardani, Francesco. 2008. Borrowing of inflectional morphemes in language
contact. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.

Thomason, Sarah. 2003. Contact as a source of language change. In Brian Joseph
& Richard Janda (eds.), The handbook of historical linguistics, 687-712.
Malden, MA & Oxford: Blackwell.

Wilkins, David. 1996. Morphology. In Hans Goebl et al (eds.),
Kontaktlinguistik: Ein internationales Handbuch zeitgenössischer Forschung,
Vol. 1, 109-117. Berlin & New York: Walter de Gruyter.

Christopher Batteen is a PhD Candidate in Linguistics at the University of
Minnesota. His research interests are language contact and Bantu linguistics.
His dissertation work is on code-switching in Chichewa/English online
discussions approaching it from a generative approach. He seeks to finish
this work in 2013 and then find meaningful employment in research and
Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Page Updated: 02-Feb-2013

Supported in part by the National Science Foundation       About LINGUIST    |   Contact Us       ILIT Logo
While the LINGUIST List makes every effort to ensure the linguistic relevance of sites listed on its pages, it cannot vouch for their contents.