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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: The Integration of English-Origin Verbs in Welsh Add Dissertation
Author: Jonathan Stammers Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Bangor University, PhD in Linguistics
Completed in: 2009
Linguistic Subfield(s): Morphology; Text/Corpus Linguistics;
Subject Language(s): English
Director(s): Margaret Deuchar

Abstract: This thesis addresses the controversy over distinguishing between
code-switching and borrowing. Many criteria have been suggested for
making the distinction, but none are without difficulties. A theory-
independent analysis is carried out on English verbs inserted into
Welsh, based on a new 40 hour, half-million-word corpus of informal
spoken Welsh/English, the 'Siarad' corpus. English verbs are
incorporated into Welsh by means of a highly productive routine
involving the Welsh verbaliser suffix '–(i)o'. For some researchers
(e.g. Poplack & Meechan 1998), this would be sufficient to count the
entire class as borrowings, but their integration is investigated further,
largely because other researchers, such as Myers-Scotton (1993;
2002), would disagree with this interpretation, interpreting the same
results as evidence for Welsh as the matrix language of the clause.

Analysis of distribution between two alternative types of Welsh verbal
construction (periphrastic and synthetic) appears to show differences
between the patterning of native Welsh and English-origin verbs, but
further investigation shows the differences can be put down to
frequency effects, with synthetic constructions largely restricted to the
highest frequency verbs. Analysis of the occurrence of soft mutation
on the verb compares native Welsh verbs with two groups of English-
origin verbs throughout the corpus, defined according to a dictionary
criterion, but is also complicated by effects of overall word frequency of
verbs. Statistical testing shows that frequency is a strong predictor of
mutation rate when logarithmic values are used, but also that English-
origin verbs not listed in a dictionary are significantly less likely to be
mutated in expected environments than native Welsh verbs or listed
English-origin verbs, so could be labelled switches despite their Welsh
suffixes. This evidence goes against the nonce borrowing hypothesis
proposed by Poplack, whose 'distinct phenomena' approach to the
issue is problematised through this study.