Sally Thomason has recently published three papers in edited volumes. The range of topics covered in these publications is impressive (from historical morphology, to language contact, to areal linguistics), but is also a good reflection of the breadth of Sally's research interests and expertise. Rather than abstracts, Sally sent along the first paragraph of each paper as a teaser for those interested in seeing what this research is about. The full bibliographical information of each of these papers is given below.
Thomason, Sarah G. (2015) When is the diffusion of inflectional morphology not dispreferred? In Gardani, Francesco, Peter Arkadiev, Nino Amiridze. (eds.) Borrowed Morphology. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. p. 27-46.
The consensus among historical linguists has always been that morphology -- in particular inflectional morphology -- is the grammatical subsystem least likely to be affected by language contact. The most popular explanation for this fact has been that foreign elements cannot easily make their way into the inflectional morphology because its tightly interconnected paradigmatic structures form a barrier. As with so many generalizations in historical linguistics, this one needs some shading when it is confronted with the evidence from a wide range of contact situations. In this paper I argue that there is no global dispreference for morphological diffusion. In certain types of contact situations, even inflectional morphology passes readily from one language to another. I do not mean to suggest that inflectional morphology is transferred as frequently as other structural features and lexicon; it isn't. My goal, instead, is to show that the diffusion of inflectional features is considerably more common than one might guess from the general language-contact literature.
Thomason, Sarah G. (2014) Contact-induced language change and typological congruence. In Besters-Dilger, Juliane, Cynthia Dermarkar, Stefan Pfänder and Achim Rabusp. (eds.) Congruence in Contact-induced Language Change Language Families, Typological Resemblance, and Perceived Similarity. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. p. 201-218.
Questions are frequently raised about whether typological congruence facilitates contact-induced language change and, conversely, about whether certain kinds of contact phenomena are rare or even nonexistent in situations where the languages in contact are very dissimilar typologically. This paper provides tentative answers to these questions. I argue that although there is no simple correlation like "more congruent languages = more feature transfer'', it is true that some features -- perhaps most notably in the inflectional morphology -- are more easily transferred between
typologically congruent languages. However, attitudinal factors can counteract any tendency toward increased homeogeneity in the structures of (for instance) closely-related languages in contact, so that one cannot predict with any confidence that more similar languages in contact will become even more similar over time. Moreover, profound contact-induced changes often affect typologically dissimilar languages, especially when the agents of change are fluent in both the source language and the receiving language. In particular, when speakers in a contact situation deliberately change their language(s), there seems to be no obvious effect of typological congruence on the process of change.
Thomason, Sarah G. (2015) The Pacific Northwest linguistic area: historical perspectives. In Bowern, Claire and Bethwyn Evans. (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Historical Linguistics. New York: Routledge. p. 726-736.
The Pacific Northwest region of North America is one of the world's most famous linguistic areas, but the histories of the numerous structural features that are widely shared in the area are poorly understood. The primary goal of this paper is to show which areal features can be traced historically and which areal features cannot be, and to explain what the difficulties are for the latter set of features. Section 1 sets the stage by characterizing the concept "linguistic area" and outlining the four possible historical explanations for shared structural features in this and other linguistic areas. Section 2 discusses the geographical range of the Pacific Northwest linguistic area and the languages that belong to it. Section 3 focuses on shared features that are more likely to be traceable historically -- namely, features that have limited range in the area and that are presumably relatively recent innovations -- and section 4 addresses the difficulties that arise in efforts to provide historical explanations for the ancient area-wide features. Section 5 is a brief conclusion that points to possibilities for more satisfactory historical explanations in the future.