Justyna Olko, Robert Borges, John Sullivan
August 3, 2018
This paper is based on extensive team research focusing on the reconstruction of the history of contact-induced change in Nahuatl from the first encounter with Spanish until the present day, taking into account both peripheral and central varieties. We trace the long-term trajectories of several morphosyntactic features that mark typological change: animacy as a grammatical category; the relational word as a lexical category; the formal distinction between comitative and instrumental markers; existential predicative possession; and relatively free word order. We argue that key innovations in Nahuatl during the colonial period are either borrowed from Spanish or begin as minor internal patterns that gradually become dominant due to similarity with an element of Spanish structure, and that these two processes have driven typological change in the language.