Cross-linguistic borrowing; was Re: Prescriptive Linguists

Barbara Need nee1 at MIDWAY.UCHICAGO.EDU
Wed Jan 30 15:42:01 UTC 2008

On 29 Jan 2008, at 16:47, David A. Daniel wrote:

> Well, there ya go. This is what you get when you have "fluent, but
> not first
> language". You get syntax creep and vocab creep from one language
> to the
> other. Actually, you get this whenever you have a speaker who is
> multilingual, whatever the first language is, if the other
> languages are
> strong enough and the speaker is, especially, speaking informally
> and not
> paying real attention.

Yes and no--and dependent on what you mean by "strong enough". One
summer, my father and I had the following exchange:

Me: Where have you the car parked?
Dad (without a pause!): I have the car over in that parking lot parked.

Neither of us is a native speaker of German. I had had a year of
German at school during the previous terms (and Old English during
the Fall), and had lived in Germany (with next to nothing to go on)
the summer before. My father learned German for his PhD and he and my
mother (who had German in college and spent a year in Zurich) used
German as their secret language when we were growing up. I would not
say that German was at all strong in my case, and not particularly
strong for my father. But we produced German syntax!


Barbara Need
University of Chicago

The American Dialect Society -

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