Saturday, September 13, 2008

Overheard from the code-switching department...

...from an Algerian here in London:


kanu supplying-lna
they.were supplying-to.us


You have a non-finite English form ("supplying") in a past continuous form, in accordance with the English construction but contrary to the Algerian Arabic one, which would require a finite form ("they supply"). You have an Algerian Arabic clitic pronoun - a form that can't stand on its own, but has to be attached to the end of something else - being stuck onto a totally unadapted verb in another language; code-switching in the middle of a phonological word! The facility with which some Algerian long-term residents of the UK combine their two languages is really rather remarkable, and would merit further study.

6 comments:

David Marjanović said...

Does Algerian Arabic have a Standard Average European-style present participle?

Lameen Souag said...

Not really, no - it has a active participle, whose meaning is mostly perfect. In contexts like this it uses finite imperfect forms.

Wejṭuṭi said...

Hi Lameen,
Strange indeed, I wouldn't think many darja speakers would be tempted to use such a form; haven't you misheard "supplyiw-lna"? but then it has to be isupplyiw...

David Marjanović said...

Ah. I was very surprised, because if someone said "is supplying" in German or French or Russian, as opposed to "supplies", I wouldn't understand the point of this strange useless lengthening; it's not something I'd expect to occur even in code-switching. But then of course, this kind of thing could be literally translated into the mentioned languages.

shaden said...

If Algerian Arabic aspect is anything like Egyptian Arabic's, then it would have to use the imperfective/progressive form with "kan". So actually "supplying" sounds more accurate; kanu supplying is well-formed, but *kanu supplied wouldn't be.

shaden said...

Hilarious! The exact same thing happened to me today. I wanted to say "I'm studying..." to someone who also speaks EA, and ended up saying "Ana b-a-study..." b-=progressive prefix,
a-=1sg.SUBJ prefix.

Bilingual twilight zone! Maybe I was still affected by this post.