Colloquium Spring 2022

Linguistics Colloquium 

Schedule -- Spring 2022

14 Jan, Holly Kennard, University of Oxford, UK 9:00 AM Zoom

"The adaptation of loanwords in Breton: stress, gender and morphophonology".

Loanwords are inescapable in Breton, which is unsurprising given its status as a minority language, and centuries of contact with the prestige variety, French. Decades of language decline followed by more recent revitalisation means that today there are two main groups of speakers: older, traditional speakers who grew up speaking Breton at home; and younger 'new' speakers, who have acquired the language largely through formal education.
As borrowing a word involves adapting it to the phonology and morphology of the receiving language, loanwords in Breton must be assigned a stress pattern and grammatical gender, and be integrated into the morphophonology. Patterns of loanword adaptation may be predictable, but equally may not: for example, koěkombr ‘cucumbers’, borrowed from French concombre ‘cucumber’, is a collective noun rather than a singular. The form kokoěmbrez also exists with a collective meaning, and the singular kokombreězenn is built on this. As a result, the stress pattern for this word not only differs from that of French, but is also different in the singular and the plural, which has consequences for gender and mutation. This picture is further complicated by the sociolinguistic context in which Breton is spoken, with claims that younger Breton speakers avoid loanwords from French in favour of more 'Celtic' equivalents.
In this talk I examine data from both older and younger Breton speakers and investigate how they treat loanwords from French with a particular focus on stress, grammatical gender, and morphological processes. The patterns of language use are complex; however, I find that loanwords are less likely to be adapted to Breton stress than to its morphophonology, which perhaps reflects both the different stress patterns that can be observed in Breton, and the variability in stress usage among the younger Breton speakers. 
18-Feb Christian Di Canio, University of Buffalo 3:00 PM  In-person


18-Mar Marianne Mithun, UC Santa Barbara 3:00 PM  In-person


1-Apr Damian Blasi, Harvard University 3:00 PM  In-person


15-Apr Timo Roettger, University of Oslo 9:00 AM  Zoom


29-Apr Suzi Oliveira de Lima, University of Toronto 3:00 PM  Zoom