On language contact as an inhibitor of language change

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This study explores the role of language contact as an inhibitor of language change through the historical analysis of several features that are characteristic of the Spanish in contact with Catalan in the island of Majorca. The analysis reveals that (i) these features are attested in Majorcan Spanish at least since the 1700s and (ii) they had some sort of existence in monolingual varieties of Spanish at the time when the language was introduced to the island. The historical data suggest that these features of Majorcan Spanish are not, as traditionally believed, contact-driven innovations, but the result of the preservation of structures that are recessive in monolingual Spanish but in Majorca have been reinforced by the existence of a parallel Catalan structure.


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