Assessing productivity in contact: Italian derivation in Maltese

Benjamin Saade 1
  • 1 Malta Centre, Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies, University of Bremen, P. O. Box 330440, 28334, Bremen, Germany
Benjamin Saade
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  • Malta Centre, Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies, University of Bremen, P. O. Box 330440, 28334, Bremen, Germany
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Abstract

Studies assessing morphological productivity almost exclusively focus on single languages. Maltese with its heavily mixed Arabic/Italian/Sicilian/English lexicon lends itself perfectly for a broadening of the study of morphological productivity towards a more crosslinguistic approach. Numerous derivational formatives that have been borrowed from Sicilian and Italian into Maltese are readily applied in new formations. This study investigates the degree to which these borrowed formatives have developed new productivity patterns in Maltese or just replicated patterns that are present in the source language. After a detailed typology of possible formations with the borrowed formatives, the investigation compares quantitative productivity scores for a subset of cognate derivational affixes in Maltese and Italian based on corpus data and lays out a general methodological framework for comparing productivity crosslinguistically. The approach has the potential to enrich the methodological repertoire of language contact studies by enabling more detailed statements about the status of borrowed morphology in a recipient language.

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