Foreign loans in the Nordic multiethnolects

about

Whereas prior research has examined lexical borrowing after the fact, the Nordic multiethnolects offer real-time data on the absorption of lexical material in contact scenarios. This is especially the case for multiethnolectal hip hop, a genre that stretches back to the late 1990s in Sweden and offers longitudinal data on (1) the entry of new loans and (2) the ethnic leveling of those loans. This project is focused on constructing and analyzing a comprehensive corpus of Nordic hip hop. The corpus currently contains over 1.7 million words.

A key output from this project is describing and explaining the emergence of the first-person personal pronoun "benim". A loan from Turkish, it is now a full-fledged first-personal pronoun in Stockholm's contemporary vernacular – used by young men and women, regardless of their actual ethnic heritage (Somali, Eritrean, Assyrian, etc.). In tracing the grammaticalization of "benim" in Swedish hip hop, I have uncovered evidence about its development that offers theoretical insights about the cognitive limits (and possibilities) of functional loans.

In ongoing work, I focus more broadly on the types of loans and their diachronic emergence in the corpus. While the focus is on Swedish where the genre is the most mature, I am also building a corpus of Danish hip hop to use in comparative light. Danish multiethnolect is much newer than Swedish and is therefore much less rich as it pertains to lexical loans and the grammatical depth of those loans.

The below video clips offer a snapshot of the types of loans in the corpus. They are annotated as MAT for loans of lexical material and PAT as pattern loans (Matras and Sakel, 2007).

Reference

Matras, Y., & Sakel, J. (2007). Investigating the mechanisms of pattern replication in language convergence. Studies in Language. International Journal sponsored by the Foundation “Foundations of Language”, 31(4), 829-865.

© 2019 by Nathan Young.