This paper investigates variation in possessive marking in Abui, a language spoken in a minority bilingual community in eastern Indonesia. Abui youngsters grow up acquiring both Abui (Papuan) and Alor Malay (Austronesian), but only become active speakers of Abui when they reach adolescence. Due to this delay, their Abui is expected to show signs of both imperfect acquisition and contact-induced effects. This language background makes them an interesting population on which to carry out a cross-sectional study on contact-induced variation. Abui distinguishes between a reflexive and non-reflexive possessive marker, while Alor Malay makes no such distinction. Combining methods from descriptive linguistics, bilingualism research, and variationist sociolinguistics, and using both a production and a comprehension task, we study the variation between four age-groups of Abui-Malay bilinguals: (pre-)adolescents, young adults, adults, and elders. Our results reveal that (pre-)adolescent males are the drivers of variation, and generalize the non-reflexive possessive marker to reflexive environments. This suggests that over the next decades the reflexive possessive prefix may be lost in Abui. This paper is a direct answer to a call by Ross (2013) to conduct in-depth variationist studies to establish more synchronically informed approaches to the study of language contact. In addition, by combining production and comprehension studies and applying them to an indigenous minority language, it expands the empirical support for a prominent hypothesis of bilingual processing: the Missing Surface Inflection Hypothesis (Prévost & White 2000b).

Identifying agents of change: Simplification of possessive marking in Abui-Malay bilinguals

Moro F
2019

Abstract

This paper investigates variation in possessive marking in Abui, a language spoken in a minority bilingual community in eastern Indonesia. Abui youngsters grow up acquiring both Abui (Papuan) and Alor Malay (Austronesian), but only become active speakers of Abui when they reach adolescence. Due to this delay, their Abui is expected to show signs of both imperfect acquisition and contact-induced effects. This language background makes them an interesting population on which to carry out a cross-sectional study on contact-induced variation. Abui distinguishes between a reflexive and non-reflexive possessive marker, while Alor Malay makes no such distinction. Combining methods from descriptive linguistics, bilingualism research, and variationist sociolinguistics, and using both a production and a comprehension task, we study the variation between four age-groups of Abui-Malay bilinguals: (pre-)adolescents, young adults, adults, and elders. Our results reveal that (pre-)adolescent males are the drivers of variation, and generalize the non-reflexive possessive marker to reflexive environments. This suggests that over the next decades the reflexive possessive prefix may be lost in Abui. This paper is a direct answer to a call by Ross (2013) to conduct in-depth variationist studies to establish more synchronically informed approaches to the study of language contact. In addition, by combining production and comprehension studies and applying them to an indigenous minority language, it expands the empirical support for a prominent hypothesis of bilingual processing: the Missing Surface Inflection Hypothesis (Prévost & White 2000b).
language contact; language variation and change; simplification
Saad, G; Klamer, M; Moro, F
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11383/2087395
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