Investigating the mechanisms of pattern replication in language convergence*

Yaron Matras, Jeanette Sakel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The replication of concrete formal-structural material (morpho-phonological forms with attached meanings) from one language in another is universally understood to instantiate grammatical and lexical 'borrowing' (we follow mainstream usage here and attach no value judgement to the word 'borrowing' itself, which is obviously just a metaphor). More controversial is the interpretation of contact-induced structural change that does not involve such replication of forms, but is manifested rather through shift in meaning, distribution, or organisation of inherited material, inspired by an external model. Such changes are sometimes referred to as 'convergent developments', and are often typical of linguistic areas. We explore the position of language convergence of this kind in the overall context of contact-induced change. Taking into consideration recent work on language convergence in the context of grammaticalisation theory (Heine & Kuteva 2005), we address the mechanism that is involved when language-internal resources are employed to replicate an external model. We attempt to trace this mechanism to its roots at the level of the organisation of communicative discourse in multilingual settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)829-865
Number of pages37
JournalStudies in Language
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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