Dialect areas and linguistic change

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This paper investigates object clitic paradigms in a number of Ibero-Romance dialects. It claims that dialect areas can be extremely helpful in understanding linguistic change if carefully studied through an adequate structural analysis in conjunction with historical information. The paper, therefore, discusses the extent to which the relationship between social structure and linguistic change is relevant and suggests that the probability that innovations will emerge and diffuse is both structurally and socially conditioned. In the data analysed, the appearance of new grammatical distinctions, which are rare from a typological perspective, seems to be more frequent in stable societies with strong ties and little mobility, regardless of whether bilingualism is present. On the other hand, the loss of previously existing distinctions seems to occur more easily in social situations where speakers of different languages or dialects colonize new territories, bringing their varieties into contact with each other to form a new variety.


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