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Title: Metatypy  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Malcolm Ross (linguist), Anêm language, Contact sign, Historical linguistics, Mixed language
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Metatypy is a type of morphosyntactic and semantic language change brought about by language contact involving multilingual speakers. The term was coined by linguist Malcolm Ross.


Malcolm Ross (1999: 7, 1) gives the following definition:

[Metatypy is a] change in morphosyntactic type and grammatical organisation [and also semantic patterns] which a language undergoes as a result of its speakers’ bilingualism in another language. This change is driven by grammatical calquing, i.e. the copying of constructional meanings from the modified language and the innovation of new structures using inherited material to express them. A concomitant of this reorganisation of grammatical constructions is often the reorganisation or creation of paradigms of grammatical functors.... Usually, the language undergoing metatypy (the modified language) is emblematic of its speakers’ identity, whilst the language which provides the metatypic model is an inter-community language. Speakers of the modified language form a sufficiently tightknit community to be well aware of their separate identity and of their language as a marker of that identity, but some bilingual speakers, at least, use the inter-community language so extensively that they are more at home in it than in the emblematic language of the community.

Ross (2002) identifies the following metatypic changes:

  1. "reorganization of the language's semantic patterns and ‘ways of saying things’"
  2. "restructuring of its syntax, i.e. the patterns in which morphemes are concatenated to form
    • (i) sentences and clauses,
    • (ii) phrases, and
    • (iii) words."

Ross finds that semantic reorganization occurs before syntactic restructuring. The

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