Cappadocian Greek nominal infection: the interplay of structural and psycholinguistic factors in contact-induced language change

Karatsareas, P. 2008. Cappadocian Greek nominal infection: the interplay of structural and psycholinguistic factors in contact-induced language change. Linguistics Association of Great Britain Annual Meeting. University of Essex Sep 2008

TitleCappadocian Greek nominal infection: the interplay of structural and psycholinguistic factors in contact-induced language change
AuthorsKaratsareas, P.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

Cappadocian Greek nominal inflection differs from the inflection of better-known Greek varieties in possessing a novel morphological construction that has been claimed to display a shift from the ‘inherited’ Greek fusional morphology to an ‘innovative’ type of agglutinative morphology (Thomason & Kaufman 1998; Janse 2001; Winford 2003). The construction in question involves the use of the morphemes -ju and -ja to denote genitive case and plural number respectively, on the model of Turkish (1b.), thus marking the shift as a candidate case of contact-induced language change. Despite what is often quoted in the literature, though, the use of the two morphemes is not extended to all nouns; rather, the novel morphemes are part of a large set of inflectional endings (IEs) in the Cappadocian nominal system (1).

(1)
Axó Cappadocian (data from Mavrochalyvidis & Kesisoglou 1960)

a. ‘shepherd’
SINGULAR
Nominative piʃtiko-s
Accusative piʃtiko-Ø
Genitive piʃtik-u

PLURAL
Nominative piʃtik-i
Accusative piʃtik-jus
Genitive piʃtik-u

b. ‘sleep’
SINGULAR
Nominative jipnos-Ø
Accusative jipnos-Ø
Genitive jipnos-ju

PLURAL
Nominative jipnos-ja
Accusative jipnos-ja
Genitive jipnos-ju

c. ‘door’
SINGULAR
Nominative tira-Ø
Accusative tira-Ø
Genitive tira-s

PLURAL
Nominative tir-es
Accusative tir-es
Genitive tir-es-ju

In this paper, based on the examination of the nominal inflections of three Cappadocian varieties (Delmesó, Axó and Ulaghátsh Cappadocian; data from Dawkins 1916; Kesisoglou 1951; Mavrochalyvidis & Kesisoglou 1960), I show that the change in Cappadocian did not involve the wholesale adoption of an agglutinative morphological pattern from Turkish. Instead, it involved the emergence of a number of IEs which do not express a feature bundle including both case and number, as is the case in Greek fusional morphology, but only one of the two features, thus displaying a one-to-one relation between form and function, typical of agglutinative languages. The -ju and -ja morphemes belong to this novel type of ‘agglutinative’ IEs. This is best illustrated in the separate expression of number and case found in the combination of two IEs in genitive plural forms like tir-es-ju in (1c.). The emergence of these novel IEs was the outcome of the neutralisation of case and number contrasts between noun forms within the same paradigm. Witness, for example, the neutralisation of number in the genitive singular and plural forms of pitikos (1a.) and jipnos in (1b.) or the neutralisation of case in the nominative and accusative plural forms of jipnos in (1b.) and tira in (1c.).

In dealing with the role contact with Turkish played in the changes observed in the Cappadocian nominal inflection, and in line with current research which calls for the integration of the psycholinguistic dimension of language change with the study of contact phenomena (Field 2002; Clyne 2003; Matras & Sakel 2007), a hypothesis can be formulated according to which the emergence of the novel ‘agglutinative’ IEs may have been the outcome, at least in part, of the employment of resolution strategies by Cappadocian-Turkish bilingual children in order to reduce the processing overload caused by the differences in the underlying representations of IEs in the two languages in terms of feature marking. However, the ‘purely’ structural factors outlined above, which undoubtedly co-acted in the process of change, raise a number of questions regarding the plausibility of processing-oriented approaches to the change, which are also briefly addressed in the present paper.

Year2008
ConferenceLinguistics Association of Great Britain Annual Meeting

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