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Morphological structure can escape reduction effects from mass admixture of second language speakers


Widmer, Manuel; Jenny, Mathias; Behr, Wolfgang; Bickel, Balthasar (2021). Morphological structure can escape reduction effects from mass admixture of second language speakers. Studies in Language, 45(4):707-752.

Abstract

Morphological complexity is expected to decrease under mass admixture from adult second language speakers. While this has been chiefly shown for morphological richness, an unresolved question is whether the effect extends to aspects of morphological boundedness. Here we report a case study of Sino-Tibetan verbs, contrasting verbal expressions of two languages with very large (Chinese, Burmese) and of two languages with very small (Bunan, Chintang) numbers of second language speakers. We find that while the amount of second language speakers accounts for differences in the range and number of inflectional categories (degrees of synthesis), it does not affect the way in which morphological constituents are bound together, reflecting fortification through a mix of diachronically stable and universally preferred patterns. This calls for theoretical models that narrow down the range of changes that are driven by second language speaker admixture, and for extensive empirical testing on a global scale.

Abstract

Morphological complexity is expected to decrease under mass admixture from adult second language speakers. While this has been chiefly shown for morphological richness, an unresolved question is whether the effect extends to aspects of morphological boundedness. Here we report a case study of Sino-Tibetan verbs, contrasting verbal expressions of two languages with very large (Chinese, Burmese) and of two languages with very small (Bunan, Chintang) numbers of second language speakers. We find that while the amount of second language speakers accounts for differences in the range and number of inflectional categories (degrees of synthesis), it does not affect the way in which morphological constituents are bound together, reflecting fortification through a mix of diachronically stable and universally preferred patterns. This calls for theoretical models that narrow down the range of changes that are driven by second language speaker admixture, and for extensive empirical testing on a global scale.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Comparative Language Science
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies
06 Faculty of Arts > Zurich Center for Linguistics
Special Collections > NCCR Evolving Language
Special Collections > Centers of Competence > Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Language Evolution
08 Research Priority Programs > Language and Space
Dewey Decimal Classification:400 Language
410 Linguistics
Uncontrolled Keywords:Linguistics and Language, Communication, Language and Linguistics
Language:English
Date:30 November 2021
Deposited On:04 Nov 2020 14:53
Last Modified:23 Apr 2024 01:45
Publisher:John Benjamins Publishing
ISSN:0378-4177
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1075/sl.19059.wid
Related URLs:https://osf.io/mt98r (Research Data)
  • Content: Accepted Version