Language Contact, Inherited Similarity and Social Difference: The Story of Linguistic Interaction in the Maya Lowlands, by Danny Law (Department of Linguistics, The University of Texas at Austin). Current Issues in Linguistic Theory, 328. John Benjamins Publishing Company, Amsterdam.
This book offers a study of long-term, intensive language contact between more than a dozen Mayan languages spoken in the lowlands of Guatemala, Southern Mexico and Belize. It details the massive restructuring of syntactic and semantic organization, the calquing of grammatical patterns, and the direct borrowing of inflectional morphology, including, in some of these languages, the direct borrowing of even entire morphological paradigms. The in-depth analysis of contact among the genetically related Lowland Mayan languages presented in this volume serves as a highly relevant case for theoretical, historical, contact, typological, socio- and anthropological linguistics. This linguistically complex situation involves serious engagement with issues of methods for distinguishing contact-induced similarity from inherited similarity, the role of social and ideological variables in conditioning the outcomes of language contact, cross-linguistic tendencies in language contact, as well as the effect that inherited similarity can have on the processes and outcomes of language contact.
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