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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton November 4, 2010

Predicting new words from newer words: Lexical borrowings in French

Paula Chesley and R. Harald Baayen
From the journal


This study addresses entrenchment into the lexicon of lexical borrowings. We search for all new lexical borrowings in a corpus of French newspaper texts and examine the frequency with which these borrowings reoccur in a second corpus of newspaper texts from about 10 years later. Lexical entrenchment emerges as depending on a variety of factors, including length in syllables, the original language of the borrowing, and also semantic and contextual factors. The dispersion of a word in the early corpus is found to be a better predictor of its frequency in the later corpus than its frequency, but both measures contribute to predicting the degree of entrenchment of a lexical item. The interaction between these two variables implies that borrowings are penalized for their burstiness.

Correspondence address: Paula Chesley, Institute of Linguistics, University of Minnesota, 214 Nolte Center, 315 Pillsbury Drive SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA. E-mail:

Received: 2009-07-30
Revised: 2010-01-08
Published Online: 2010-11-04
Published in Print: 2010-November

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