LINGUIST List 24.500

Tue Jan 29 2013

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

Editor for this issue: Joseph Salmons <>

Date: 29-Jan-2013
From: Thomas Owen-Smith <>
Subject: Dynamics of Contact-Induced Language Change
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Book announced at

EDITORS: Claudine Chamoreau, Isabelle LégliseTITLE: Dynamics of Contact-Induced Language ChangeSERIES: Language Contact and Bilingualism (LCB) 2PUBLISHER: De Gruyter MoutonYEAR: 2012

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

SUMMARYThis volume comprises a diverse set of chapters investigating various aspectsof language change in contact situations. Chamoreau and Léglise set out theessential aim of the book in the first paragraph: “the primary purpose … is toidentify different factors in language change” (p.1), and the topic isexamined over thirteen chapters by different authors.

The chapters address questions of contact and change in morphosyntax andsemantics from a number of viewpoints, and with differing levels oflanguage-specific focus. Several (e.g. Chamoreau, Epps) present new data andanalysis 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 anyparticular grammatical theory, but the editors state that the methodologiesused in the book “generally have their roots in a typological perspective”(p.1). The geographical coverage includes one chapter on Indian Ocean creolesand one on an Austronesian language, but otherwise there is quite a stronggravity towards Latin America and Europe, with the majority of chaptersdealing predominantly or exclusively with languages from these regions.

Claudine Chamoreau and Isabelle Léglise,A multi-modal approach to contact-induced language changeIn the introductory chapter, the editors present the fundamentals of theirapproach, stressing that linguistic change cannot be accounted for by onesingle factor, but is rather a “dynamic domain of complex, complementary, andcorrelated processes that have to be treated with a fine-grained approach”(p.1), and that this complexity demands a framework which can take account ofall of these. They also introduce the other chapters, in terms of threethemes: i) the role of multilingual speakers in language change; ii) thedifferences (and similarities) between change in “ordinary” contact situationsand in situations of language endangerment and obsolescence; and iii) therelationships between contact-induced and internal change. These topicsintroduce two (perhaps the two) crucial questions which must be usuallyaddressed in discussions of contact and change: whether a development in agiven situation involving language contact is due to structural or to socialfactors, and whether it has occurred because of the linguistic contact (theterm “contact-induced” is used throughout the book for such a situation), or“internally”, that is for reasons explicable by reference to the languageitself rather than due to contact. The assumption which informs a lot of thework in the book is that all of the above factors “conspire” (together withcross-linguistic tendencies), so contact and social factors can often compoundor strengthen tendencies which were already present in the linguistic ecologyof a language. The editors note that this is “a generally accepted phenomenonin the field … but the role played by each process and their preciserelationship to each other is not always clear” (p.13).

Yaron Matras,An activity-oriented approach to contact-induced language changeMatras argues that “innovative strategies occur in pursuit of specificcommunicative goals” (p.23), and proposes that in situations involvingmultilingualism, speakers make use of their repertoire of more than onelanguage to achieve a range of effects. Their licence to draw on their fullrange, and their ability to regularly select the appropriate material, are ofcourse affected by the linguistic environment around them, and over thechapter he looks at examples of various social settings which entail differentopportunities for or constraints on speakers with regard to these aspects oftheir performance. This is the “activity-oriented approach”. He distinguishessituations where social solidarity and shared linguistic competence encouragecreative use of forms and language mixing, and those where social stress andthe mental effort to cope with this cause interference and “malfunction” inspeakers’ selection of the appropriate terms. While both factors influenceindividual speakers in particular situations, in circumstances of large-scalemultilingualism, they can develop into patterns which become generallyestablished amongst multilingual speakers, from which point they can spread tothe monolingual population(s).

Claudine Chamoreau,Contact-induced change as an innovationOne of the editors, Chamoreau also contributes a chapter, in which shepresents an example of a situation where an element of a contact language isadopted, but employed in a manner which does not exist in that language.Specifically, this is how a Mesoamerican language Purepecha has adopted theSpanish preposition ‘entre’ only as a comparative marker, a function for whichit is not used in Spanish. The adoption of comparative expressions involvingparticles reflects a long and intense period of contact, over which Spanishpatterns (which appear not to have existed in the language as spoken in the16th century) have entered Purepecha both through loanwords and calques,displacing native strategies. Chamoreau proposes that the unusual use ofSpanish ‘entre’ for comparison serves to emphasise the independent linguisticidentity of Purepecha speakers, and notes that the employment of an elementwith locative semantics for comparison is common cross-linguistically.

Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald,Language contact in language obsolescenceAikhenvald’s chapter investigates whether contact-induced changes proceed in adifferent manner in a language which is falling into disuse, or whether theyfollow patterns similar to those of any intense contact situation, with adiscussion of data from a number of Amazonian languages (though she alsorefers to others). She notes the position of several scholars thatcontact-induced change in obsolescent languages is similar to that in healthylanguages and it is above all the speed of change which distinguishes the two,however she argues that apart from the general “simplification and reductionof grammar and lexicon” (p.80) of obsolescent languages (even to the extentthat their genetic affiliation may become obscured), “a massive influx ofnon-native forms…may result in unusual phenomena” (p.81), which sometimesinvolve large-scale restructuring and/or elaboration of native categories infavour of those of the dominant language. She gives several examples,including the adoption of an inclusive/exclusive distinction in first personplural, gender distinctions, oblique cases and classifiers (pp.89-94), andnotes that in the most extreme situations, the obsolescent language mayreplicate dominant categories to such an extent that it can become almost likea relexified version of the dominant language.

Ana Fernández Garay,The emergence of a marked-nominative system in Tehuelche or Aonek’o ʔaʔjen: acontact-induced change?Pressure from other languages may lead to new patterns in a given languagewithout fully extinguishing aspects of the older (native) system. FernándezGaray’s chapter discusses such a situation in Tehuelche, a language ofPatagonia, which saw the extension of an adnominal element from marking A (themore agent-like argument in transitive clauses) to marking S (the argument ofan intransitive clause) as well. This constitutes the transition from a markedergative to a marked nominative system, and Fernández Garay proposes that itdeveloped due to Tehuelche speakers’ contact with Mapadungun, which hasnominative-accusative alignment. While verbal morphology preserves remnants ofthe ergative system, where certain verbs (“group 1”) agree in gender with P(the more patient-like argument in transitive clauses), the system appears tobe in the process of breaking down, as there is an apparently growing group ofverbs (“group 2”) which do not show this pattern. This and the fact that thecase morpheme under discussion is sometimes a preposition and sometimes apostposition (which Fernández Garay also attributes to contact) give asnapshot of opposing tendencies in a language under sustained social andlinguistic pressure.

Bernd Heine,On polysemy copying and grammaticalization in language contactHeine looks at the phenomenon of grammatical replication, “that is, a processwhere speakers create a new grammatical meaning or structure in language R(the replica language) on the model of some meaning or structure of anotherlanguage M (the model language)” (p.127), using his and Kuteva’sgrammaticalization model (2005, 2006, inter alia). This involves breaking downthe development of a grammatical morpheme into certain stages, which areunidirectional: stage 2 can only follow stage 1, and so on. He examines datafrom a large number of European languages, focusing on developments concerningarticles, possessive perfects, and auxiliation of verbs whose lexical meaningis ‘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. Thekernel of Heine’s argument is that, although peripheral languages havedeveloped features which can be considered analogous to categories in the corelanguages, their uses tend to be subject to a greater number of constraints,and as such they are still at earlier stages of grammaticalization. Heconcedes that why such constraints exist, and exactly how a given feature isintroduced 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’ inChamorroStolz discusses the adoption of the Spanish indefinite article in theAustronesian language Chamorro (spoken on the Marianas Islands), andsubsequent developments of the morpheme following its incorporation into thelanguage’s morphosyntax. Considering the morpheme in the context of Heine andKuteva’s (2005, 2006, inter alia) grammaticalization framework, whereindefinite articles developing from the numeral ‘one’ are considered toprogress by stages from a pure numeral to a generalized article, he arguesthat the usage of ‘un’ in Chamorro supports their claim that borrowedmorphemes will invariably be incorporated on the lowest stages of this scale.However, the subsequent development of ‘un’ in this language has beensubstantially different from the corresponding situations in Europeanlanguages. This is largely because it “has to compete with pre-Hispanicstrategies of indefiniteness marking (antipassive, common article, zeroarticle)” (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 leastgrammaticalized properties, it develops largely language-internally,especially if the pressure of the erstwhile prestige language ceases to bestrong” (p.190).

Patience Epps,On form and function in language contact: a case study from the AmazonianVaupés regionEpps’ chapter examines aspects of the contact situation in the Vaupés regionof northwest Amazonia, which involves languages from three families (EastTukanoan, Nadahup and Arawak), the speakers of which have a “negative attitudetowards language mixing” (p.196) and generally resist borrowing lexical itemsand morphology (although the widespread calquing of constructions with nativematerial has led to convergence of grammar). The form ‘ni’ or similar etymonswhich appear cognate occur as verbs of existence/location, equative copulas,evidential operators, aspectual markers, light verbs in predicate chainingconstructions, and verbalizers across the area -- a situation which Eppsproposes is likely to have involved areal influence in some form, although sheadmits that with the data at hand, it is not possible to ascertain exactly howthis has happened or where the form originated. Consequently she proposes thatthe 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 wouldprobably have been resisted for an obviously foreign morpheme.

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

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

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

Anthony P. Grant,Contact, convergence, and conjunctions: a cross-linguistic study of borrowingcorrelations among certain kinds of discourse, phrasal adverbial, anddependent clause markersGrant’s chapter investigates borrowing patterns of conjunctions and discoursemarkers across languages and aims to shed light on the question of purported“universals” in structural borrowing. He starts from Matras’ (1998) proposalsthat there exist hierarchies in the order of borrowing, for instance that aterm 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 fashionsimilar to Dahl’s (1985) TMA (Tense-Modality-Aspect) questionnaire, he surveysfrom published sources 18 categories for which many languages useconjunctions, particles, or various kinds of subordinating constructions,across 22 diverse languages (including English) which are known to haveborrowed some proportion of the relevant material from other languages. Thedata show various patterns of borrowing, including taking wholesale the formand its function from the model language, replicating of the form with nativematerial, and cases where part of a construction is borrowed, and embedded innative morphemes. From examples which go against the hierarchies proposed forborrowing, Grant is able to show that these are not universals but merelytendencies.

Carla Bruno,On a Latin-Greek diachronic convergence: the perfects with Latin ‘habeo’ /Greek ‘échō’ and a participleIn the final chapter, Bruno examines parallel structures in Latin/Romance andGreek, looking at the structurally equivalent developments of perfectconstructions from possessive verbs and participles in these languages. Shediscusses whether the development of these similar constructions could havebeen influenced by contact between the two languages, or is more likely due toindependent parallel developments according to general tendencies whichrelated languages are likely to share. Bruno also considers why theconstruction developed to become a core component of Romance tense/aspectsystems on the one hand, while in Greek it has always been marginal. Theanswer to this question (as for several other examples in the book, discussedin other chapters) lies in its structural opposition with other constructionsin the relevant languages. So while in Latin, “the emergence of the ‘habeo’active periphrastic forms … results in the balancing of a perfective systemoriginally showing periphrastic forms only in middle structures” (p.366), inGreek “the presence of a complex participial system has continuouslyinterfered with attempts to systematize the opposition between ‘eimí’ and‘échō’ in auxiliating participles” (p.371).

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

The copy editing is generally very good: all examples are transparentlyglossed according to the Leipzig glossing rules, and the instances oftypographical errors can probably be counted on two hands. The text flows wellfor the most part, although there are some instances where information whichturns out to be quite important for the argument of the chapter is notintroduced as clearly or as early as it might be (for instance, in FernándezGaray’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 ofBhojpuri ‘-se’ and how exactly this caused Mauritian Creole ‘depi’ to beextended from temporal to spatial expressions; and in Bruno’s chapter the factthat in Modern Greek the construction involving ‘échō’ and the past passiveparticiple is extremely marginal and barely used). Several chapters also lacklists of abbreviations used, and references have adopted the unhelpfulpractice of including only initials rather than first names for authors.However these matters are relatively minor, and do not significantly detractfrom the generally high editorial and thematic quality of the work as a whole.

All chapters are thickly referenced, and situate their content withindiscussions of contact and language change over recent decades. Heine andKuteva’s (2005, 2006 inter alia) framework of grammaticalization loomsparticularly 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 usingtheir analysis to critique this theory (Manterola). Other contact-centredframeworks employed include Johanson’s (2002 inter alia) work on code copyingand Matras’ (1998 inter alia) proposals for hierarchies in borrowing, as wellas 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 arelatively diverse range of views and very detailed focus on particular topicsin relation to certain languages and areas: This plurality of voices andinterests gives the work a quality which would not really be possible in anauthored work. The theme(s) of the book can be considered to cohere, as apartfrom fitting into the broad thematic structure outlined in the introductorychapter, many chapters make points which are pertinent to other chapters. Forexample, Stolz and Manterola actually reach similar conclusions from theirdata (i.e. that structures are borrowed at an early stage ofgrammaticalization, and after this develop in the replica language conditionedby the existing structures in that language and independent from subsequentdevelopments in the one-time model language), though the two chapters takequite different positions with regard to Heine and Kuteva’s approach.

While the contributors generally seem to share certain fundamental workingassumptions about the nature of contact and change (for instance, the“conspiracy” of many factors), it is refreshing that they differ on somepoints, for instance whether certain processes and tendencies should be seenas 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 isdue to contact: some push the boat out (e.g. Epps, Kriegel) and say theybelieve 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 codecopying means that perhaps little can actually be proven to the extent ofbeing watertight. However, through work which teases apart the complexities ofcontact in particular situations, while relating these details to generalproblems, we gradually move forward at least towards a fuller understanding ofthe forces which can play a role in these processes. This book is a valuablecontribution in that direction.

REFERENCESAnderson, Gregory D.S. 2005. Auxiliary Verb Constructions. Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press.

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

Haase, Martin. 1992. Sprachkontakt und Sprachwandel im Baskenland: DieEinflüsse 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-copyingframework’. In: Jones, Mari C. & Esch, Edith (eds.) Language change: Theinterplay of internal, external and extra-linguistic factors. Berlin: Moutonde Gruyter. Pp. 285-313.

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

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

ABOUT THE REVIEWERThomas Owen-Smith is PhD candidate in the Department of Linguistics at theSchool of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Histhesis focuses on aspects of the morphosyntax and semantics of Tamang, aTibeto-Burman language spoken in the Central Himalaya. His other researchinterests include language contact and its historical dimensions (particularlyin Indo-European, Sino-Tibetan and Turkic); historical linguistics andtypology; and links between language and traditional knowledge, theenvironment and agriculture.

Page Updated: 29-Jan-2013