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Assessing the effects of language contact on Northeastern Pomo

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Abstract

Northeastern Pomo is one of seven mutually unintelligible Pomoan languages of California. It was the last Pomoan language identified by academia and the first to become extinct. No publications are devoted solely to it, and what little documentation exists is of varied quality. Scholars have nevertheless sought to determine the place of Northeastern Pomo within Pomoan for more than a century. This paper examines aspects of Northeastern Pomo phonology and grammar and categorizes them as retentions from Proto Pomo, language-internal innovations, or contact-induced changes. On the basis of the large number of retentions and language-internal innovations, Northeastern Pomo is proposed to be a relictual speech community that separated from Proto Pomo earlier than its westernmost congeners.

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