Investigating loanword integration in immigrant speech: the case of Greek Canadian

You are here

13th International Conference on Greek Linguistics - London
Date of reference: 
Thursday, 7 September, 2017 to Saturday, 9 September, 2017
Angela Ralli, University of Patras
Vasiliki Makri, University of Patras
Vasiliki Mouchtouri, University of Patras

This presentation inspects noun borrowing in a situation of language contact in Canada with Greek being the recipient and English the donor language. Following Ralli et al. (2015), we claim that the integration of loan nouns in a language is the function of extra-linguistic factors (degree of bilingualism, Thomason 2001, Matras 2009) in addition to following specific linguistic constraints, mainly owing to language-internal factors (phonological, morphological, semantic).

We explore: (a) the reason for a great number of loan nouns following Greek inflection, whereas others do not inflect whatsoever; (b) the rudimentary properties of gender assignment resulting in accommodation to masculine, feminine or neuter; (c) the recipient’s inherent tendencies to organize native and loan nouns into different categories and distribute them into specific inflection classes; (d) the role of structural (in)consonance between the donor and the recipient in loan-noun integration.

We investigate evidence from Greek spoken in Quebec and Ontario, where many Greek immigrants live. Our data are extracted from written (Aravossitas 2016, Maniakas 1991, Seaman 1972) and oral sources, within the framework of “Immigration and Language in Canada: Greeks and Greek-Canadians” Project. We propose that the morphology of a language (fusional Greek) is likely to be affected by a linguistic system typologically distinct (analytical English), provided that certain morphological conditions be met.

Conference paper

Aravossitas, Th. 2016. The hidden schools: mapping Greek heritage language education in Canada. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Toronto.

Maniakas, Th. 1991. The ethnolinguistic reality of Montreal Greeks. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Montreal.

Matras, Y. 2009. Language Contact. Cambridge: CUP.

Ralli, A., M. Gkiouleka & V. Makri 2015. Gender and inflection class in loan noun integration. SKASE 12: 422-460.

Seaman, D. 1972. Modern Greek and American English in Contact. The Hague: Mouton.

Thomason, S. 2001. Language Contact: An Introduction. Edinburgh: EUP.

The ImmiGreC project is sponsored by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

McGill University: Modern Greek Studies

University of Patras: Laboratory of Modern Greek Dialects (LMGD)

York University: Modern Greek Studies

Simon Fraser University: Department of Linguistics