This course examines language contact in Old and Middle English from a formal perspective. We will analyze the role of contact in language change, the patterns that have driven both lexical and grammatical borrowing in Old and Middle English, the different types of contact influence from Celtic, Latin, Old Norse, Norman French and Greek. We will consider principles (for instance, economy or imperfect L2 learning) that operate in language contact and change, the relationship between internal developments of the language and contact-induced changes, and the role of the contrast between learned and vernacular language. We will also investigate the differences between contact of a written (for instance, with translation texts) and an oral nature. In the process, we will explore, among other phenomena, the hypotheses of Celtic substratal influence in toponymic borrowings as well as in the case of verbal nouns, of the Old Norse impact on northern Middle English varieties with regard to the ‘verb-second’ constraints, of the impact of Latin on the new infinitival constructions.
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