Analogical levelling in the Majorcan Catalan demonstrative system

Emanuela Todisco, Pedro Guijarro-Fuentes, Kenny R. Coventry

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Demonstratives are cross-linguistically widespread expressions. The use of demonstratives is flexible due to their semantic elasticity, which allows them to describe more or less extensive regions or referents in a communicative scenario. The constant remapping between demonstratives and referents might lead to a restructuring of the deictic system itself in accordance with the parameters affecting its use. To that end, we analyzed the structural changes affecting demonstratives in Majorcan Catalan by analysing whether speakers use three or two terms (aquest/aqueix/aquell vs. aquest/aquell) to convey spatial information. We also assessed whether any change in the adnominal/pronominal forms mirrored locative adverbs reduction. We elicited the production of demonstratives in 36 simultaneous Majorcan/Spanish bilinguals via a psycholinguistic experiment and we found two main results. First, simultaneous bilingual speakers do not extensively use the term aqueix to convey information related to physical distance. Second, the pronominal/adnominal reduction from three- to two-terms differs from the adverbial reduction. In the first case, aqueix is dropping out of the system, while locative adverbs present a shift with substitution of açí for aquí. Overall, our results shed new light on how the Majorcan Catalan demonstrative system is structured and explain structural changes in terms of ‘analogical levelling’ in paradigmatic relations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-56
Number of pages24
Issue number1
Early online date29 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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