Contact-induced change and internal evolution

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This paper discusses contact-induced changes in American Spanish attributable to both internal and external factors. These changes occur in already unstable and variable areas of the grammar and take advantage of intrinsic evolutionary tendencies of the language in order to impose structures and cognitive processes from the contact language.Their consequences, going beyond the predictable outcome of internally generated change, can include the reorganization of an entire paradigm (unstressed pronominals), the acceleration of a change in progress and the removal of linguistic restrictions on it (direct object elision), and the assignment of new values to already existing structures (adoption of epistemic values by the preterite tenses). The mechanism responsible for all these changes is <i>linguistic convergence</i>.


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