8. Borrowing

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Speech communities usually do not live in vitro. This situation holds for communities across the world today as well as in the past. Many people on the African continent, for example, are multilingual, usually speaking the language of one or more neighbouring groups, the regional contact language as well as the national language. Contacts between communities speaking different languages may lead to an exchange of material as well as intellectual or immaterial culture. This in turn may lead to a transfer of lexical and grammatical features amongst others. The identification of such similarities observable between specific languages is one of the two phenomena requiring a historical explanation, as already stated in Chapter 1. From a cultural-historical point of view, a transfer of words (or other language material) is interesting, because this usually reflects cultural influence between speech communities. From a linguistic point of view, adopting a feature previously used in another language, the donor language, often leads towards interesting restructuring processes which may also tell us more about the nature of the receiving language, as we shall see below


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