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date: 28 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Polysynthetic languages have been involved in a variety of language contact situations. In cases of occasional contacts, polysynthetic languages have been simplified, both by learners (approximate varieties) and native speakers (foreigner talk). Such simplified versions can be the source also of a number of pidgins based on polysynthetic languages. Those pidgins did not inherit the morphological complexity of the source languages, but instead use pronouns for person marking and largely analytic structures. Sometimes unanalyzed complex verbs are used, where the original meaning of the affixes does not play a role. The widespread idea that polysynthetic languages do not display lexical borrowings, but use internal word-building devices instead, should be qualified: loanwords are quite common in polysynthetic languages. In codeswitching, verbs stems rarely combine with foreign elements. Borrowing of pattern is more common than borrowing of matter, and areal diffusion of grammatical traits may lead to the proliferation of polysynthesis.

Keywords: pidgins, foreigner talk, language contact, polysynthesis, loanwords, borrowing, areal diffusion

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