The Mechanism of Substrate Impact on Superstrate: Assessing Uralic Substrate in Germanic

M Ehala, T Üprus
2008 Linguistica Uralica   unpublished
Kalevi Wiik has suggested that certain changes in Germanic were actuated by shifting Finno-Ugric speakers. One of the crucial problems of such explanations is how to estimate the impact of any possible contact in the past to the grammars of the languages involved in this contact. According to the principles of the theory of communication accommodation the substrate features are unlikely to be brought to L1 as there is little motivation for monolingual L1 speakers to accommodate to low prestige
more » ... 2 speakers. The paper suggests that accommodation is possible in such contact situation if there is a common identity for L1 and shifting L2 group. To test this hypothesis, an inter-group communication situation was experimentally created and the rate of accommodation evaluated in the conversations between Estonian and Russian speakers. The result confirmed that there is a perceived phonetic accommodation of Estonians towards non-native pronunciation and the signs are the stronger the stronger is the interpersonal relationship between the speakers. The paper also discusses the implications of these results to the understanding of contact induced change.