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Evolutionary Syntax

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The Making of Vernacular Singapore English

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This book "proposes a new theory of contact-induced grammatical restructuring" and "offers a new analytical approach to New English from a formal or structural perspective."

Academic Paper

Title: Mechanisms of change in areal diffusion: new morphology and language contact
Author: Chia-jung Pan
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: James Cook University
Linguistic Field: Morphology; Sociolinguistics; General Linguistics; Computational Linguistics
Abstract: Borrowing, or diffusion, of grammatical categories in language contact is not a unitary process. In the linguistic area of the Vaup‚s in northwest Amazonia, several different mechanisms help create new contact-induced morphology. Languages which are in continuous contact belong to the genetically unrelated East-Tucanoan and Arawak families. There is a strong cultural inhibition against borrowing forms of any sort (grammatical or lexical). Language contact in the multilingual Vaup‚s linguistic area has resulted in the development of similar - though far from identical - grammatical structures. In Tariana, an Arawak language spoken in the area, reanalysis and reinterpretation of existing categories takes place when diffusion involves restructuring a pre-existing category for which there is a slot in the structure, such as case. A new grammatical category with no pre-existing slots may evolve via grammaticalization of a free morpheme - this is how aspect and aktionsart marking was developed. The development of a five-term tense-evidentiality paradigm involves a combination of strategies: reanalysis with reinterpretation accounts for the obligatory tense marking, and the history of visual, inferred and reported evidentials. The nonvisual evidential evolved via grammaticalization of a lexical verb while the most recent, assumed, evidential involves reanalysis and reinterpretation of an aspect marker and grammatical accommodation.


This article appears IN Journal of Linguistics Vol. 39, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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