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BorrowingLoanwords in the Speech Community and in the Grammar$
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Shana Poplack

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190256388

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190256388.001.0001

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The bare facts of borrowing

The bare facts of borrowing

(p.80) 6 The bare facts of borrowing

Shana Poplack

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses the problem of classifying formally ambiguous bare forms. It illustrates with analysis of three typologically distinct language pairs involving isolating recipients (Wolof, Fongbe, and Igbo) that feature virtually no overt morphology on the noun, obviating the morphological criterion for loanword integration. Here the appeal is to the syntax of nouns and noun phrases, focusing on their variable distribution across different types of modification structure. This expands and systematizes the comparisons of chapters 4 and 5 by considering in greater detail not just the rates of occurrence of a diagnostic but also its variable structure. Regardless of language pair, the overwhelming majority of lone donor-language nouns display quantitative parallels to their relevant recipient-language counterparts in ways far too specific to be random. At the same time, they pattern differently from nouns in unmixed donor-language contexts. This reveals that the donor-language nouns have been borrowed and integrated into different recipients.

Keywords:   bare forms, isolating languages, nominal syntax, syntactic diagnostic, morphological criterion, variability, loanword integration, rates of occurrence, donor language, recipient language

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