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Article

Contact-induced usages of volitional moods in East Caucasian languages

International Journal of Bilingualism. 2017. Vol. 21. No. 5. P. 559-583.

Aims and hypothesis:

The aim of this article is to introduce a case of syntactic borrowing. I test the hypothesis that the uses of volitional forms (optative, imperative, hortative and jussive) in complement clauses of the verbs of wish and in purpose clauses in East Caucasian languages evolve under the influence of Azerbaijanian.

Design/methodology/approach and data and analysis:

The data of 13 languages are considered in the paper. To prove that shared features are contact-induced, two control languages are included in the sample. Archi belongs to the same genetic group as the languages that use volitionals in subordinate clauses, but is exposed to Azerbaijanian to a lesser extent. Axaxdərə Akhvakh belongs to another group, but has strong contacts with Azerbaijanian due to recent migration.

Findings/conclusions:

A survey shows that volitionals are used in subordinate clauses most extensively in those languages whose speakers exhibit a high level of bilingualism in Azerbaijanian, and where the contact has been longer. I assume that there is a hierarchy of borrowability of subordinate constructions involving volitionals.

Originality:

Although the influence of Turkic languages on the languages of the Caucasus in the domain of syntax has been previously discussed, the usage of volitionals in subordinate clauses has not.

Significance/implications:

It is acknowledged that social factors play an important role in shaping the linguistic consequences of contact. However, evidence of the correspondence between social factors and structural outcomes of language contact is still very scarce. The relevance of two social factors is shown in this paper: the ratio of bilingual speakers and the duration of contact.

Limitations:

I advance the hypothesis that connects the borrowability of particular constructions to their typological frequency, but the typology of subordinate uses of volitionals is not well enough investigated to make final conclusions.