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Borrowing Modal Elements into American Norwegian

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Abstract

In a corpus of more than 120 hours of recorded American Norwegian speech we find the word spost, which looks like a non-Norwegian item. This word appears to be in normal use, although Norwegian Americans deny using it. Apparently this is the modal structure ‘be supposed to’ / ‘I suppose’ being borrowed from English into American Norwegian. In this article we examine how these structures are used in American Norwegian, and how they are modified and incorporated into the language. Furthermore we look at the various meanings such constructions have and potential models for it in Norwegian. This study contributes to the literature on borrowing of modal expressions in contact. According to Matras and Sakel (2007), borrowing of verb-related categories, such as modality, is rarely discussed in the literature, although in reality it is quite frequent. Judging by how often modal expressions are borrowed from one language to another, modality itself stands out as category which is prone to borrowing. We also discuss how the use of spost in some instances can be interpreted as a discourse marker, and if it is only the item that is borrowed, or also the grammatical pattern associated with it.

References

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