Language contact and word structure

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Intensive language contact between genetically unrelated languages may result in their structural adjustment to each other. The languages will then converge and become similar in their grammar. The effects of language contact are expected to be particularly strong if a dominant language is in the process of ousting the endangered one spoken by a minority group. Tariana, a highly endangered Arawak language, is under pressure from Tucano, an East Tucanoan language. Tucano is the majority indigenous language within the context of the Brazilian part of the Vaupés River Basin Linguistic area. The recent Tucanoan impact on Tariana, a highly synthetic language, involves typologically unusual changes in the order of morphemes within the verbal word, and are indicative of extreme convergence between the two languages.


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