Simplification in language contact: Evidence from Unserdeutsch

Maitz, Péter; Lindenfelser, Siegwalt Alexander (12 June 2018). Simplification in language contact: Evidence from Unserdeutsch (Unpublished). In: Special Workshop „Language Contact and the Emergence of Hybrid Grammars“. Language and Culture Research Center (LCRC), James Cook University, Cairns. 11.–12.06.2018.

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Simplification processes resulting from second language acquisition in language contact scenarios seem to affect grammatical categories to a different extent: While some categories tend to be reduced or even omitted as a whole easily, other categories are much more persistent and almost never get lost. This observation caused researchers to differentiate between “weak vs. strong inflection” (Kiparsky 1982) or “contextual vs. inherent inflection” (Booij 1993; 1995), depending on whether a category expresses an aspect of extralinguistic reality, or solely serves grammatical purposes (e.g. agreement). Lately, the distinction has been taken up again by research about language complexity, especially in the debate concerning so-called redundancy-induced complexity. Are there categories that are merely “historical baggage” (Trudgill 1999), some kind of “ornamental elaboration” (McWhorter 2001), which do not really contribute to communication and are thus easily degradable? In our paper, we will examine to what extent the loss and retention of categories in Unserdeutsch does fit this hypothesis. Furthermore, we will include insights from other pidgin and creole languages around the world with highly inflected strata languages involved in the ir emergence. An additional comparison to general results from language acquisition studies may then shed further light on the question, how much of a “conventionalized interlanguage of an early stage” (the creole definition of Plag 2008) Unserdeutsch actually is.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of Germanic Languages
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of Germanic Languages > Sociolinguistics

UniBE Contributor:

Maitz, Péter and Lindenfelser, Siegwalt Alexander


400 Language > 430 German & related languages


[UNSPECIFIED] Deutscher Akademischer Auslandsdienst (DAAD)


[UNSPECIFIED] Language Emergence in Multilingual Context




Siegwalt Alexander Lindenfelser

Date Deposited:

11 Dec 2018 11:51

Last Modified:

17 Nov 2019 02:08

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Unserdeutsch, sprachliche Komplexität, Simplifizierung, Sprachkontakt




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