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Autre Publication Scientifique Année : 2023

Structural Borrowing

Vincent Renner


The concept of structural borrowing stands in a binary contrast to that of matter borrowing, which entails the copying of any concrete linguistic element, which prototypically corresponds to the borrowing of lexical units, but also comprises that of function words, bound morphemes, and phonemes. In contrast, structural borrowing can thus be explained as the copying of any abstract linguistic element (i.e., pattern) from one language to another. A crucial difference between the two types of borrowing is that matter borrowing is overt and thus, usually, easily identifiable, while structural borrowing is covert, because of its abstract nature, and this abstractness necessarily leads to broadening the definition of the concept so as to include all cases of significant contact-induced change in frequency of use of an abstract pattern. The dichotomy between matter and structural borrowing has been widely discussed in the contact linguistics literature and is expressed through a variety of oppositive terms including matter v. pattern replication, MAT v. PAT borrowing, global v. selective copying, direct v. indirect diffusion, and direct v. indirect transfer. This bibliography starts with a select number of suggested readings that offer general overviews of the field of linguistic borrowing and contact studies, and then, more narrowly, of structural borrowing. The subsequent sections introduce the various linguistic domains in which structural borrowing can be found. Each of them includes both a general overview of structural borrowing in the given domain and a select number of exemplary case studies.



Dates et versions

hal-03999740 , version 1 (21-02-2023)



Vincent Renner. Structural Borrowing. 2023, ⟨10.1093/obo/9780199772810-0302⟩. ⟨hal-03999740⟩


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