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The article addresses the issue of function-word borrowing from Italian into a number of languages spoken in Italy or neighbouring regions. Among the most frequently borrowed items, the discourse particle allora stands out as the most widespread Italian loan. The article explores the properties which make allora a prime candidate for being borrowed. The borrowability of allora is compared to two competing relative chronologies of function-word borrowing whose empirical basis does not contain evidence from language-contact situations with Italian. It is argued that the success story of allora calls for a partial revision of those models which ascribe particular importance to adversative conjunctions and discourse particles (translating English but and however) because the ubiquitous Italian discourse particle is a serious competitor for the role of prime mover in the chronology of function-word borrowing.


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