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  • Cited by 3
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    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Poplack, Shana and Dion, Nathalie 2012. Myths and facts about loanword development. Language Variation and Change, Vol. 24, Issue. 03, p. 279.

    Leimgruber, Jakob R. E. 2013. The trouble with World Englishes. English Today, Vol. 29, Issue. 03, p. 3.

    Deuchar, Margaret and Stammers, Jonathan 2016. English-Origin Verbs in Welsh: Adjudicating between Two Theoretical Approaches. Languages, Vol. 1, Issue. 1, p. 7.


Testing the nonce borrowing hypothesis: Counter-evidence from English-origin verbs in Welsh*

  • DOI:
  • Published online: 15 December 2011

According to the nonce borrowing hypothesis (NBH), “[n]once borrowings pattern exactly like their native counterparts in the (unmixed) recipient language” (Poplack & Meechan, 1998a, p. 137). Nonce borrowings (Sankoff, Poplack & Vanniarajan, 1990, p. 74) are “lone other-language items” which differ from established borrowings in terms of frequency of use and recognition. Lone other-language items are singly occurring words from the “donor” language which are preceded and followed by words or phrases from the “recipient” language. Whether such other-language words belong only to the donor language (and are classed as codeswitches) or to both the donor and the recipient language (and are classed as borrowings) is both a theoretical and a practical issue. Poplack & Meechan (1998a) suggest that this question can be settled by measuring the linguistic integration of donor-language words, so that infrequent donor-language words which behave like their recipient-language counterparts are categorised as (nonce) borrowings. This suggests that frequency of use need play no role in the extent to which other-language items are linguistically integrated into the recipient language. We challenge this hypothesis with an analysis of soft mutation on English-origin verbs in Welsh, which shows that integration is related to frequency.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Margaret Deuchar, ESRC Centre for Research on Bilingualism in Theory and Practice, Bangor University, College Road, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2DG, Wales,
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This research was funded by award no. 112230 from the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) in the UK to the second author. The work presented in this paper was part of the programme of the ESRC Centre for Research on Bilingualism in Theory and Practice at Bangor University. We would like to thank Gwen Awbery, Ad Backus, Phylip Brake, Peredur Davies, Marcel den Dikken, Eva Eppler, Carl James, Bob Morris Jones, Siân Lloyd-Williams, Kara McAlister, Carol Myers-Scotton, Shana Poplack, Elen Robert and Alberto Rosignoli for commenting on an earlier version of the paper, and two anonymous reviewers. In addition, we would like to thank Diana Carter, Edward Carter and Hans Stadthagen-Gonzalez for help with statistics.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

M. Alegre , & P. Gordon (1999). Frequency effects and the representational status of regular inflections. Journal of Memory and Language, 40 (1), 4161.

J. L. B. Arroyo , & D. Tricker (2000). Principles of variationism for disambiguating language contact phenomena: The case of lone Spanish nouns in Catalan discourse. Language Variation and Change, 12, 103140.

M. Deuchar (2006). Welsh–English code-switching and the Matrix Language Frame model. Lingua, 116, 19862011.

M. B. Lewis , S. Gerhand , & H. D. Ellis (2001). Re-evaluating age-of-acquisition effects: Are they simply cumulative-frequency effects? Cognition, 78 (2), 189205.

C. Myers-Scotton (2002). Contact linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

M. Nishimura (1995). Varietal conditioning in Japanese/English code-switching. Language Sciences, 17 (2), 123145.

S. Poplack , & D. Sankoff (1984). Borrowing: The synchrony of integration. Linguistics, 22, 99135.

S. Poplack , D. Sankoff , & C. Miller (1988). The social correlates and linguistic processes of lexical borrowing and assimilation. Linguistics, 26, (1), 47104.

J. Treffers-Daller (2005). Evidence for insertional codemixing: Mixed compounds and French nominal groups in Brussels Dutch. International Journal of Bilingualism, 9 (3/4), 477508.

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Bilingualism: Language and Cognition
  • ISSN: 1366-7289
  • EISSN: 1469-1841
  • URL: /core/journals/bilingualism-language-and-cognition
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