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Souag, Mostafa 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 oases in the Sahara, Siwa and Tabelbala. As relatively small centres of agriculture and long-distance trade, isolated for nearly a millennium from their nearest relatives and from any other sedentary groups by vast spans of desert mainly inhabited by sparse populations of nomads speaking a different language but sharing the same religion, and now integrated into an Arabic-speaking state, 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. No comprehensive study of the grammatical effects of contact in such a situation exists. 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)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:32

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