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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter examines contact-induced change in grammatical constructions. Scholars know of only a few cases where evidence is available of both (i) the social context of constructional change and (ii) the grammars of the copying language before and after change and the model language during the change. Most examples are drawn from two European languages which largely fulfil these conditions. Contact-induced constructional change occurs either through bilingualism or through rapid language shift. Bilingually induced change is exemplified by Colloquial Upper Sorbian, rapid language shift by rural Irish English. Four degrees of change are identified: increased frequency of use, change in function, constructional calquing and metatypy. The chapter then discusses the mechanisms and social contexts of constructional change and compares bilingually induced and shift-induced change, leading to the observation that metatypy is restricted to bilingually induced change. In other respects both kinds of change have similar effects. This means that contact-induced change in grammatical constructions serves to diagnose the difference between bilingually induced change and rapid language shift only in rather rare instances.

Keywords: syntax, constructions, bilingualism, language shift, Sorbian, Irish English

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