Language Contact

Victor A. Friedman

in The Oxford Handbook of Tense and Aspect

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195381979
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Language Contact

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  • Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology



Tense/aspect systems tend to be more resistant to contact-induced change than modal systems. Thus, for example, the tense/aspect system of Romani—whose adult speakers are all bi- or multi-lingual in a broad range of languages—is extremely stable, whereas the modal system is always calqued or borrowed. This article examines tense/aspect contact phenomena in the first linguistic area to be recognized, the Balkans, but the principles involved have broad applicability. It focuses on the classic Balkan languages—Albanian, Greek, Balkan Slavic (Bulgarian, Macedonian, and the Torlak dialects of Southeast Serbia and Southern Kosovo), and Balkan Romance (Romanian, Aromanian, and Meglenoromanian), as well as the Balkan dialects of Romani, Turkish, and Judezmo. Taken together, this group of distantly related or unrelated languages gives ample demonstration of the variety of tense and aspect phenomena to be found in language-contact situations. Contact-induced language change is essentially a surface phenomenon. The article also considers the morphology of tense markers, perfectivity in Slavic and Greek, auxiliaries and particles, evidentiality and contact, narrative imperative and expressive tense, and areality versus typology.

Keywords: tense; aspect; language contact; Balkan languages; language change; morphology; perfectivity; evidentiality; areality; typology

Article.  12865 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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