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Language contact

Finally, a note is due on Muhammed’s use of the adverbial before. In this narrative we find three instances of the use of before, two of them quoted previously in examples (133d) and (133f), repeated in (142) and (143) for further illustration, and another one provided in (144). Note that the temporal specification in these constructions does not appear in sentence-initial position as it would be required by the target grammar. Instead, it seems, Muhammed chooses an SVX format with this adverbial. Because these are the only instances of erroneous word order in Muhammed’s file 3, apart from the constructions with pam discussed previously (cf. we are left to speculate on the possibility that the use of the sign with this word order is an effect of LBG. Note that we consider borrowing only at the level of word order. Although LBG uses a similar sign (war, ‘was’) created to represent the German expression war (that is, the preterite form of the copula sein, ‘to be’), it is unlikely that before in the examples quoted has the status attributed to war (that is, the copula) in LBG. This assumption is corroborated further by the circumstance that Muhammed does not use the expression war in his written narratives at the time; rather, he uses the perfect tense to refer to past events.

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