Asymmetrical Complexity in Languages Due to L2 Effects : Unserdeutsch and Beyond

Faculty/Professorship: German Linguistics  
Author(s): Lindenfelser, Siegwalt 
Title of the Journal: Languages : open access journal
ISSN: 2226-471X
Publisher Information: Basel : MDPI
Year of publication: 2020
Volume: 5
Issue: 4
Pages: 1-18
Language(s): English
DOI: 10.3390/languages5040057
This study examines asymmetries between so-called inherent and contextual categories in relation to the morphological complexity of the nominal and verbal inflectional domain of languages. The observations are traced back to the influence of adult L2 learning in scenarios of intense language contact. A method for a simple comparison of the amount of inherent versus contextual categories is proposed and applied to the German-based creole language Unserdeutsch (Rabaul Creole German) in comparison to its lexifier language. The same procedure will be applied to two further language pairs. The grammatical systems of Unserdeutsch and other contact languages display a noticeable asymmetry regarding their structural complexity. Analysing different kinds of evidence, the explanatory key factor seems to be the role of (adult) L2 acquisition in the history of a language, whereby languages with periods of widespread L2 acquisition tend to lose contextual features. This impression is reinforced by general tendencies in pidgin and creole languages. Beyond that, there seems to be a tendency for inherent categories to be more strongly associated with the verb, while contextual categories seem to be more strongly associated with the noun. This leads to an asymmetry in categorical complexity between the noun phrase and the verb phrase in languages that experienced periods of intense L2 learning.
GND Keywords: Unserdeutsch ; Kontaktsprache ; Spracherwerb ; Deutsch ; Sprachkontakt ; Sprachvariante
Keywords: inflection; L2 effects; morphological complexity; simplification; second language acquisition; Unserdeutsch
DDC Classification: 430 German  
RVK Classification: GD 7194   
Peer Reviewed: Ja
International Distribution: Ja
Open Access Journal: Ja
Type: Article
Release Date: 11. November 2020
Project: Open-Access-Publikationsfonds 2012-2020