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The Role of Bilingualism on Affix Borrowing: The Case of Nominal and Verbal Derivation in Chimalaba

Hamisi Amani, Abel Y. Mreta


This paper describes an interesting case of the role of bilingualism on affix borrowing from Kiswahili into Chimalaba. The data were collected through interviews, previous collected corpora, native narratives and targeted elicitations. Thomason’s (2001), Borrowing Scale (BS) and the Principle of Functional Explanation (PFE) guided the analysis. The BS predicts the level of intensity of contact with possible socio-historical factors for borrowing of particular structural features, whereas the PFE through a Multi-Causation Model (MCM) specifies the interplay of factors in promoting structural borrowing in a hierarchy. The findings indicate that bilingualism plays an intermediary role in promoting affix borrowing in Chimalaba. It has been revealed that bilingualism is a secondary factor, which itself is influenced by primary factors above it and tertiary factors below it to promote affix borrowing. Thus, bilingualism in itself does not explain the whole picture in affix borrowing, but it influences borrowing in combination with other factors.


bilingualism, structural borrowing, socio-historical factors, linguistic factors

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