The interplay of language-internal variation and contact influence in language change
In this paper, evidence is presented for the important role played by language-internal variation in situations of contact-induced change. Such language-internal variation can function in two ways, through “frequential copying” on the one hand and “contact-induced exaptation” on the other. In frequential copying, an infrequently used construction in the recipient language can increase in frequency and ultimately even become the norm, if there is a similar construction in the model language. In contact-induced exaptation, constructional variants that differ in meaning from the default construction can provide the material basis for the grammaticalization of new constructions. This interplay of internal variation and external influence is exemplified with data from several northern Eurasian languages.