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Bora loans in Resígaro: Massive morphological and little lexical borrowing in a moribund Arawakan language

Keywords: language contact , morphological borrowing , lexical borrowing

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Abstract:

This study analyzes the influence of Bora (Boran) on Resígaro (Arawakan), two languages of the Colombian-Peruvian Amazon region, using a newly discovered Resígaro wordlist from the 1930s (Manuel María de Mataró no date), another wordlist from the late 1920s (Rivet & Wavrin 1951), and another from the early 1970s (Allin 1976:382-458). It shows that despite heavy structural and morphological influence (Aikhenvald 2001:182-190) Resígaro has borrowed relatively few lexical items, around 5% in all three sources. It also shows that the borrowing of entire sets of grammatical morphemes, including classifiers, number markers, and bound grammatical roots that is observable in contemporary Resígaro (Seifart 2011) goes back to at least the early 20th century. This suggests that this remarkable case of massive morphological borrowing is not merely an effect of language decay, linked to the current language endangerment situation of Resígaro, with only two surviving speakers.

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