Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Beni-Snous Berber

I have the pleasure of announcing that my article with Fatma Kherbache, Syntactically conditioned code-switching? The syntax of numerals in Beni-Snous Berber, has just been published online in the International Journal of Bilingualism. Long-term readers may recall that, five years ago now, I noticed an astonishing claim in Destaing's grammar of Beni-Snous Berber (spoken near Tlemcen, in western Algeria): that, with numerals above ten, they only used Arabic nouns. In this article, I finally try to get to the bottom of this, based both on Destaing's corpus and on data gathered by my co-author from the half-dozen or so last speakers; the real situation turns out to be a little more complicated than Destaing described, but his claim is correct as a statistical generalisation. Syntactically conditioned code-switching as a systematic part of otherwise monolingual discourse has rarely been described, but one other instance is reported – numeral+noun combinations in the Jerusalem dialect of Domari, an Indic language of the Levant spoken by the Dom "gypsies". Comparing the circumstances of switching in both languages supports the generalisation, building on Myers-Scotton's work, that syntactically conditioned code-switching (Matras' "bilingual suppletion") can only happen when a word shared by both languages has different selectional requirements in each language.


Anonymous said...

As a Japanese, the situation sounds familiar. In Japanese, the original Japanese numerals above 10 is almost completely forgotten now, and we use Chinese numerals above 10. Is this a meaningful comparison? (I'm not a linguist but I read your blog quite often, and I wanted to make a comment this time.)

Lameen Souag الأمين سواق said...

Yes, Japanese offers some good comparisons – in particular, the contrast between hitori, futari (original numeral, original counter) vs. san-nin etc. (Chinese numeral, Chinese counter.)