When two languages come into contact, words are borrowed from one language to another. Lexical borrowings, or loanwords, are by far the most commonly attested language contact phenomenon. Thomason and Kaufman 1988 (cited under Borrowability) states that “[i]nvariably, in a borrowing situation the first foreign elements to enter the borrowing language are words,” and, based on a cross-linguistic survey of lexical borrowings in forty-one languages, Haspelmath and Tadmor 2009 (cited under Borrowability) states that “[n]o language in the sample—and probably no language in the world—is entirely devoid of loanwords” (p. 55). Loanwords are studied from many different perspectives, touching upon different subfields of linguistics, including phonetics, phonology, morphology, and semantics, as well as sociolinguistics and historical linguistics. Loanwords are not only recognized as the most common of language contact phenomena but also occupy an important position in general linguistics due to the evidence they bring to our understanding of the grammatical structure of language and to the theory of language change and historical linguistics. Some major questions that arise in the study of loanwords include: (1) Definition—what are loanwords? How are loanwords different from or similar to codeswitches? (2) Borrowability—why are words borrowed? Are certain types of words more likely to be borrowed than others? (3) Emergence and evolution—how are loanwords introduced? How do loanwords evolve over time? (4) Adaptation—why and how are loanwords adapted phonologically, morphologically, and semantically? (5) Lexical stratification—to what extent do loanwords adhere to the same types of restrictions as native words? What do loanwords tell us about the structure of the lexicon? (6) Role of extralinguistic factors: how do extralinguistic factors, such as orthography, sociopolitical context of borrowing, and language attitude affect loanwords?
Article. 7122 words.
Subjects: Linguistics ; Anthropological Linguistics ; Language Families ; Psycholinguistics ; Sociolinguistics
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