Linguistics and Language Variation: Robert McColl Millar
Professor Robert McColl Millar, University of Aberdeen
4F5 (Block F, Priory Road Complex)
Near relative linguistic contact: Contrastive evidence from the history of English
Contact between different dialects of the same language and contact between discrete languages are often compartmentalised as representing two inherently dissimilar processes. There is a grey area, however, when two languages are sufficiently close to each other to allow some degree of mutual comprehension, even if this requires considerable effort on the part of speakers.
This paper will concentrate on the inflectional morphological changes which took place in English from around 900 to 1350, comparing it to the effects of Old Norse upon English as they spread from dialect to dialect during the early Middle English period.
It will demonstrate that, at least with near relatives, it is interference rather than transfer which is the normal outcome of the contact.