Academic journal article SKASE Journal of Theoretical Linguistics

Gender and Inflection Class in Loan Noun Integration

Academic journal article SKASE Journal of Theoretical Linguistics

Gender and Inflection Class in Loan Noun Integration

Article excerpt

1 Assumptions and premises

In language-contact studies, special attention has been devoted to lexical borrowing, more specifically to loanword accommodation (see, among others, Brown 1999, Winter-Froemel 2008, Haspelmath & Tadmor 2009, Thomason & Kaufman 1988, Thomason 2014). Of all categories, it is stated that nouns are more easily borrowed (Whitney 1881, Moravcsik 1978, Hock & Joseph 1996) and Matras (2009: 168) attributes this fact to their referential properties.

Various factors, language internal and external, have been claimed to contribute to the transfer of nouns from one language to another. For instance, beside the vital role of socio-political and economic (language external) factors, which facilitate borrowing in contact settings, there are also language internal requirements which govern the process between the system that exerts a controlling influence (source language or donor) and the affected language (target or recipient), such as form similarities, structural and semantic equivalences (see, among others, Ibrahim 1973, Poplack, Pousada & Sankoff 1982, Winford 2005, 2010).

It is generally stated (Thomason 2001, inter allia) that loan nouns are firstly adopted without being analyzed, while an analysis, or a reanalysis, come at a second stage. There is usually more than one strategy according to which a word can be inserted in the recipient's morphology. For instance, Wichmann & Wohlgemuth (2008: 99) have proposed that verbs can be inserted in a language directly or indirectly. In the first case, verbs are transferred by taking on slight (or none) phonological modifications, while in the second case, loan verbs become compatible with the requirements of the recipient's morphology only with the support of some functional elements, for instance affixes.

In this paper, we deal with the integration of loan nouns in two Modern Greek dialects, Heptanesian and Pontic, in differently conditioned situations of linguistic contact. (141) Our study shows differences, but also similarities in the way the dialects in question handle inflection, more specifically, grammatical gender (unless necessary, hereafter simply gender) and inflection-class assignment in their loan noun integration, notwithstanding their contact with genetically and typologically unrelated systems: Heptanesian has been affected by the semi-fusional Romance, whereas Pontic has been influenced by the agglutinative Turkish. It is demonstrated that, independently of the properties of the donor, the integrated nouns bear an overt inflectional ending according to the recipient's standards, where the structure of a native noun is a combination of a stem and an inflectional ending. It is worth noticing that the inflectional part of the loan word may either be a Greek ending, added to the loan -when reanalyzed as a stem- or come from the reanalysis of the final segment of the loan into a Greek inflectional ending. Since the adaptation of loan nouns requires only the presence of inflection, in accordance with the morphology of Greek native nouns, but there is no use of extra material, as for instance, an integrating derivational suffix which would flag membership to the category of nouns, we assume that the items under examination enter the recipient by following a semi-direct insertion strategy. In contrast, the compulsory presence of an integrator would denote indirect insertion. As shown by Ralli (2012a,b, 2014), the latter applies to loan verbs, where the Greek verbalizer -iz- is, for instance, used in the Aivaliot (142) dialect for the accommodation of verbs of Turkish origin (e.g. Greek/Aivaliot kazad-iz-u 'to become rich' < Turkish past tense kazadi).

As exposed in the following sections, our investigation reveals: (a) the predominant role of the morphology of an inflectionally-rich language, that is, Greek, for the inflectional adjustment of nominal loanwords (see also Aikhenvald 2000, 2006 and Ralli 2012a,b, 2013 for similar claims); (b) a certain role played by a form matching of the endings between the native nouns of the donor and those of the recipient language; (c) tendencies of the recipient language, to classify its nouns by distinguishing between native and loans in terms of inflection class and apply neuter gender to -human loans. …

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