Talk by Andreea Calude


  • Date: Sep 5, 2017
  • Time: 02:00 PM - 03:30 PM (Local Time Germany)
  • Speaker: Andreea Calude
  • University of Waikato, Hamilton, NZ
  • Location: MPI SHH Jena
  • Room: Villa V03
  • Host: Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
  • Contact:
What loanwords can tell us about language change – a case-study of Māori Loanwords in New Zealand English

Due to their salience, words borrowed from one language into another have captured the attention of the media, language enthusiasts, historians, and linguists alike. However, the study of loanwords has previously been deemed to be of little importance to linguistics theory. In this talk, I propose that, far from being a mere exercise in stamp-collecting, statistical models of loanword use based on real-language data can tell us something about the process of language change, and can in fact contribute to our understanding of both social and linguistic aspects of change. I illustrate this claim with a case-study of loanwords from Māori (the indigenous language of New Zealand Aotearoa) borrowed into New Zealand English. Using corpus data and statistical modelling techniques, I present evidence that lexical borrowing is driven by both linguistic and social factors that come into play and interact in interesting ways, leading ultimately to language change. In New Zealand, speakers use loanwords from Māori in order to facilitate economy of expression and to signal social attitudes and to position their own identity within a specific social space.

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