Western Nilotic languages form part of various long-lasting contact situations and have been assigned to a number of linguistic areas, such as T/K and Sudanic. Despite major layers of very recent and diverse borrowings, almost all Western Nilotic languages exhibit common phenomena of contact-induced grammatical change, which in some cases seem to be very old. A comparative analysis of grammatical change in the noun morphology shows that while some parts of the nominal system are rather permeable and thus open to typological changes, other domains of the system remain very conservative. Here, certain areal features tend to persist despite massive diffusion within later contact situations, and it is claimed in this context that linguistic areas do in some cases produce emblematic properties which can become important for the creation of a local linguistic identity. The paper describes some of the principle grammatical changes in Western Nilotic and aims at explaining the social and linguistic context in which they occur.
Selected Proceedings of the 37th Annual Conference on African Linguistics
edited by Doris L. Payne and Jaime Peña
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