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16 Pages

Vernacular Universals and Language Contacts: An Overview

ByMARKKU FILPPULA, JUHANI KLEMOLA, HELI PAULASTO

The concept of ‘vernacular universals’ (henceforth abbreviated as VUs) has attracted a great deal of attention in recent years, thanks mainly to the pioneering work by the Canadian sociolinguist Jack Chambers (see, esp. Chambers 2003, 2004). In Chambers (2004), he describes VUs-or ‘vernacular roots’, as he calls them-as follows:

[A] small number of phonological and grammatical processes recur in vernaculars wherever they are spoken. . . . [T]hese features occur not only in working-class and rural vernaculars but also in child language, pidgins, creoles and interlanguage varieties. Therefore, they appear to be natural outgrowths, so to speak, of the language faculty, that is, the species-specic bioprogram that allows (indeed, requires) normal human beings to become homo loquens. . . . They cannot be merely English.