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Souag, Lameen (2010) Grammatical Contact in the Sahara: Arabic, Berber, and Songhay in Tabelbala and Siwa. PhD thesis. SOAS, University of London. DOI:

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This thesis examines the effects of contact on the grammars of the languages of two Saharan oases, Siwa and Tabelbala. These share similar linguistic ecologies in many respects, and can be regarded as among the most extreme representatives of a language contact situation ongoing for centuries across the oases of the northern Sahara. This work identifies and argues for contact effects across a wide range of core morphology and syntax, using these both to shed new light on regional history and to test claims about the limits on, and expected outcomes of, contact. While reaffirming the ubiquity of pattern copying, the results encourage an expanded understanding of the role of material borrowing in grammatical contact, showing that the borrowing of functional morphemes and of paradigmatic sets of words or phrases containing them can lead to grammatical change. More generally, it confirms the uniformitarian principle that diachronic change arises through the long-term application of processes observable in synchronic language contact situations. The similarity of the sociolinguistic situations provides a close approximation to a natural controlled experiment, allowing us to pinpoint cases where differences in the original structure of the recipient language appear to have influenced its receptivity to external influence in those aspects of structure.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
Keywords: language contact, historical linguistics, Berber, Songhay, Arabic, morphology, syntax
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of Linguistics
SOAS Research Theses
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PJ Semitic
P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania
Supervisors Name: Phil Jaggar and Peter Austin
Copyright Statement: All rights reserved by author.
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2012 11:45

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