Author Topic: Morphological integration of loanwords  (Read 8613 times)

Offline kappi

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Morphological integration of loanwords
« on: December 23, 2013, 02:26:20 PM »
Hello, everybody!
I have to write a dissertation about the morphological integration of loanwords and I am stuck. I want to discuss Thomason and Kaufman's borrowing scale (meaning, importance, history...) and I thought it would be great to write a chapter about the links between contact linguistics and cognitive linguistics (where scalar categories have great relevance). Only, I can't find anything about said link! My advisor supports this idea of mine, but even he has no references to help me.  :o
Have you got an idea? Thank you in advance.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Morphological integration of loanwords
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2013, 02:41:39 PM »
Sounds interesting!

But I don't know of anything immediately that would help you. Maybe we can discuss it some and think about different ideas for you to search for.

To start, can you explain a bit more?

Borrowing usually is boring (structurally)-- words are borrowed with some small phonetic adjustments to nativize them, and then they're used as wholes.

But sometimes borrowing results in reanalysis and integration of other parts. For example:
1. Sometimes phonemes can be borrowed-- eventually nativization is weakened (via strong bilingualism?) and sounds are borrowed with the words. (Think about English ʒ from French loanwords.)
2. Sometimes morphology is borrowed-- octopi is not the original Greek plural, but it's modeled by analogy on some Latin plurals-- we've borrowed the Latin plural formation rule -us > -i.

On the other hand, sometimes borrowed words are reanalyzed (via 'backformation' usually?) as complex words that can be morphologically active. One of the best examples I know of is in Swahili:
The word for 'book' is kitabu, clearly borrowed from Arabic kitaab with some sound adjustments (no closes syllables, no long vowels). What gets really interesting is the plural-- in Arabic it's kutub (via the root and pattern system, somewhat irregular but still following a limited pattern).
In Swahili, the plural is vitabu. Swahili is a prefixing language and plurals are formed based on noun class-- each semantic class has two halves: singular and plural. So the "ki-vi" class is the one where singulars are (usually) marked by ki and the plurals are (usually) marked by vi. So why not-- it starts with "ki", and it roughly matches the semantics of that class (which are vague anyway), and the plural can be vitabu!
Another example, perhaps even more striking is the word "vilabu", which is a cognate (well, via borrowing) of English clubs (as in "go to the club"). "club" was borrowed as "kilabu", then that form was reanalyzed as being a singular ki-vi class noun, so the plural is "vilabu"!

Alternatively, sometimes nothing can happen. An example that comes to mind (I'd have to look up the exact word) is the repluralization 3 or 4 times of an original word in Latin meaning "leaf" (I think). It was usually used in the plural in Latin referring to something like "foliage" on a tree, then borrowed into one of the Romance languages as a singular; the plural form was then used for multiple trees (or forests or something); and then it was borrowed into Tagalog (or something like that) as a singular; and eventually it got a new plural in Tagalog!
All of that is based on a vague memory of an example from a few years ago. So let me know if you want me to try to actually track that one down.


Finally, there's also the interesting case of what appears to be a borrowing grammar-- arbitrary conventions based on perceived relationships between languages. There's no obvious reason why English "-tion" should be borrowed into Spanish as "-ción", but it is. This is due to frequent mappings between the two for historical reasons. That doesn't explain why it's still active in borrowing (it shouldn't be, at just a sound-based level). Also I believe that Russian borrowings of German use h>g sometimes because of analogy to pairs like hospital/gospital that happen to exist. Some languages, such as Japanese, have very well defined borrowing rules for how to adapt loan words into native pronunciation. And sometimes the irregularities or arbitrary parts of that are very interesting.


So personally I'd start with some data. I don't know exactly what theoretical literature there is on this, but there's probably something.
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Offline Corybobory

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Re: Morphological integration of loanwords
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2013, 02:43:27 PM »
Japanese might be a good language to look at, since it has a large volume of English loan words that have entered the langauge in the last 50 years, and those words go through quite a strict phonological change, and that leads me to think, maybe morphological as well?
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Offline Daniel

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Re: Morphological integration of loanwords
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2013, 02:49:53 PM »
My Japanese knowledge is limited. What kinds of morphological processes might there be? Much of it seems to be "particles" (such as for nouns) rather than strict morphology (with a blurry line, of course).

One option might be verbs: do you know of any nativized verbs that don't use light verbs to support them? I just don't know any myself.
(Eg, unlike 'benkyo-shimasu', lit. 'study-do.INFL')
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Offline Corybobory

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Re: Morphological integration of loanwords
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2013, 03:00:27 PM »
Hmmm no, all the borrowed words that are used as verbs are matched with shimasu/suru , the ones that I know of anyway...

I was thinking about adjectives perhaps?  Now that I'm writing it out I may have it jumbled, bit 'sekushii' is a borrowed word for sexy, and does it actually take an extra -i on the end that makes it an i-adjective, and if so does it conjugate as one?
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Offline Daniel

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Re: Morphological integration of loanwords
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2013, 03:13:35 PM »
Quote
I was thinking about adjectives perhaps?  Now that I'm writing it out I may have it jumbled, bit 'sekushii' is a borrowed word for sexy, and does it actually take an extra -i on the end that makes it an i-adjective, and if so does it conjugate as one?
Interesting. That's probably a good example, at least to check. The extra -i could just be for phonological reasons (something about morae perhaps), though.
Do you have access to a corpus? (Or just web search.) I wouldn't be able to understand the results well enough to check one way or the other, but it doesn't seem too hard if you can read it fairly well. Just search for 'he/she was sexy', right?
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Offline kappi

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Re: Morphological integration of loanwords
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2013, 03:14:48 PM »
@djr33: I know another interesting example! Some Eastern language borrowed mudguard as madigadi to avoid consonant clusters and according to pronunciation, creating the plural digadi because ma- marks the plural.

I have an Italian interlanguage handbook by Fusco which I'm using to find examples and references, but everything I found is about singulars/plurals, definitions and pretty lame explanations. It would be interesting to study morphological integration according to the structure of the model word and to the vicinity of the two languages; I also thought that sociolinguistic and psychological motivations might be involved.
I found this (https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ncl.ac.uk%2Flinguistics%2Fassets%2Fdocuments%2F11.Esme_Winter-Froemel-FT.pdf) and this (http://www.ualberta.ca/~iclc2013/ABSTRACTS/Hartmann_et_al.pdf), and I was hoping to find more along this lines.

Thank you for your posts, even though I'm more proficient in Western languages.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Morphological integration of loanwords
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2013, 03:25:45 PM »
madigadi > digadi is an example of backformation. If you search for this (perhaps "backformation in borrowing") you will find more information, I'm sure!


All of this is highly irregular and sporadic, so I don't know how much you can do beyond:
1) Noting that it exists, showing examples; and
2) Discussing that our grammatical systems / language use must somehow allow for this to occur (but not require it).
To come up with some kind of expectations, rules or statistics would be very hard.

Quote
Thank you for your posts, even though I'm more proficient in Western languages.
The most interesting examples will come from languages that are less related, so the changes are more obvious. "Vilabu" ('clubs') is a striking case, for example.

But that can be within even just English-- various semi-productive morphological patterns have entered English via Latin and Greek. And there has been a lot of research on that. (The -us > -i plural is just one example; another is the -o- linker in "speed-o-meter".)

There are also cases with plurals: "linguistics" appears plural so words like that sometimes are used with plural verbs-- "The linguistics of this word are interesting"... even though that is etymologically incorrect and (at least in that case) not standard English. What about "politics": "The politics {is/are ?} confusing!"

Another example is English borrowings into German. German tends to have -en or -e plurals, but many newer English borrowings into German do use the English -s.
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Offline freknu

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Re: Morphological integration of loanwords
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2013, 04:00:20 PM »
Quote
I was thinking about adjectives perhaps?  Now that I'm writing it out I may have it jumbled, bit 'sekushii' is a borrowed word for sexy, and does it actually take an extra -i on the end that makes it an i-adjective, and if so does it conjugate as one?
Interesting. That's probably a good example, at least to check. The extra -i could just be for phonological reasons (something about morae perhaps), though.
Do you have access to a corpus? (Or just web search.) I wouldn't be able to understand the results well enough to check one way or the other, but it doesn't seem too hard if you can read it fairly well. Just search for 'he/she was sexy', right?

It doesn't inflect like an -i adjective: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/セクシー

Offline Corybobory

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Re: Morphological integration of loanwords
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2013, 04:21:53 PM »
Hm maybe all borrowed adjectives are na- adjectives then, and then they are kind of discreet and left without changes... hmmm...
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Offline zaba

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Re: Morphological integration of loanwords
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2014, 07:33:48 AM »
Quote
My advisor supports this idea of mine, but even he has no references to help me.  :o
Have you got an idea? Thank you in advance.

Get another advisor! This guy sounds like a clown.

Offline kappi

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Re: Morphological integration of loanwords
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2014, 07:44:05 AM »
No, he is the best advisor I could think of. Only, it's difficult to find what I'm looking for and his primary interests lie elsewhere.

Offline zaba

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Re: Morphological integration of loanwords
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2014, 02:31:37 AM »
If the best advisor available can't give you any references AT ALL, then I'd be extremely suspicious on how well he'll be able to advise you considering that he has absolutely no familiarity with the literature. Just sayin'.