Specificity of lexical transfers in the speech of Croatian-Australians: semantic and contextual features of English-origin lexemes in a Croatian-English bilingual corpus

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Research


A vast body of literature exists on loanwords, borrowings or lexical transfers, the term used in this paper. Studies on lexical transfers from a descriptive perspective typically look at the reasons for their incidence, their frequency, degree of integration and their use in pragmatic terms. Comparatively few studies look at the semantic properties of lexical transfers and their relationship to lexemes in the recipient language. In some instances, transfers relate to realia or concepts that have no existing semantic equivalent in the recipient language, but in other instances, transfers do have one. This paper is based on a corpus of speech containing code-switching, which refers to bilinguals drawing on elements of two languages in the same utterance or spoken text. Drawing on Backus’s (2001) Specificity Hypothesis, which states that “embedded language elements in code-switching have a high degree of semantic specificity”, this paper examines the semantic value and contextual use of English transfers in a large bilingual corpus of 200,000 tokens based on the speech of 100 second-generation Croatian-Australians. Analysis includes examination of transfers across the whole sample, as well as within the speech of the same speaker to see whether English items function as hyponyms to Croatian equivalents, co-occur with them as co-hyponyms, or have even started to displace them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationŠirinom filološke misli
Subtitle of host publicationZbornik u čast Diani Stolac
EditorsBorana Morić-Mohorovičić, Anastazija Vlastelić
Place of PublicationZagreb Croatia
PublisherHrvatska sveučilišna naklada - Croatian University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9789533610764
ISBN (Print)9789531695060, 9789533610757
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • code'switching
  • lexical transfers
  • Croatian-English contact
  • heritage languages
  • semantic specificity
  • diaspora Croatian

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