Date of Award

8-1-2011

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Applied Linguistics

First Advisor

Baertsch, Karen

Abstract

Due to a long history of contact with other tongues, Algerian Arabic and Maltese have massive borrowings from French and Italian respectively. In the aim of exploring the influence of linguistic contact on the types of loan adaptation in these two historically related dialects, this study analyzed a linguistic corpus of noun loans. The effect of language contact is better observed through a comparative study of the phonological and morphological change each language has undertaken. The study investigated French noun loans in Algerian Arabic, and Italian noun loans in Maltese. It specifically focused on gender, number (singular and plural) and the definite article as a means of defining the noun loans. The analysis has revealed that Maltese and Algerian Arabic both adapted the loans phonologically but also borrowed new foreign phonemes. Morphologically, they mostly preserved the noun loans genders, used the native patterns to make them plural and the article -al in the case of Algerian Arabic ,-il in the case of Maltese to make them definite. Algerian Arabic used the native patterns / a:t/, the broken plural or the collective /-ja/ plural. Maltese used the native /-jiet/ and the broken plural, however, contrary to Algerian Arabic, Maltese has also borrowed Italian plural patterns making the loan plural patterns unpredictable. The linguistic consequences of borrowing on these languages have made of Algerian Arabic a case of diffusion and of Maltese a case of diffusion and loss. Maltese has borrowed new phonemes but has lost a few native ones, notably the emphatic and velar fricative sounds, still in use in the other Arabic dialects. Algerian Arabic borrowed new phonemes but retained the native phonemes. Borrowing could not be the only factor that has ultimately rendered Maltese to be no longer considered an Arabic dialect and has made Algerian Arabic not obvious to other Arabic speakers, yet it has reinforced it. Contact with the foreign language Italian and loss of contact with the mainstream Arabic dialects was another major factor that rendered Maltese a unique Semitic variety alien even to the closest North African dialect.

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