Fabricating new Mongolic languages: the case of Dongxiang
(64th Meeting Budapest, 2022)
The Dongxiang language is spoken in Southern Gansu province in the People’s Republic of China by the Dongxiang minority. Historical and genetic evidences have shown that the Dongxiang people mostly originate from Central Asia and have been forced to resettle to their present location during the Mongolian rule, in the late 13ᵗʰ Century. Although little substrate references can be found in their lexicon, it is believed that they were speakers of different Turkic varieties and have shifted to Mongolian. Hence, the Dongxiang language shares common features with Middle Mongolian. On the other hand, it has been in intense contact with Linxia, a Chinese dialect spoken by the neighbouring Hui community. These contacts have induced massive phonological and lexical changes in the Dongxiang language, but only a few syntactic changes due to the influence of Chinese can be traced. This is because Linxia has been so influenced by the Mongolic languages that its syntactic structure resembles to Mongolic, while its lexicon has remained Chinese.
For this presentation, I will give an overview about the contact-induced phenomena in Dongxiang by analysing a few structural borrowings and calques. I will provide a few examples of grammatical loans, including the on-building category of classifiers and will then discuss the process of « calquing of calques » by giving examples about functional expansion of the suffixe -ni used with adjectives and the use of the reflexive possessive marker -nugvun as a reflexive pronoun. From those examples, I will try to show that there is a difference between two phenomena present in the Dongxiang language, one being closer to calquing and the other closer to metatypy.