Operationalizing borrowability: phonological segments as a case study

Steven Moran, Elad Eisen, Dmitry Nikolaev, Eitan Grossman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study provides two mathematical formalizations of borrowability. These operationalizations allow us to quantitatively evaluate the borrowability of phonological segments and to make predictions about the likelihood that speech sounds will be borrowed in language contact situations. Our approach departs from traditional borrowability hierarchies based on qualitative observations and instead provides empirically motivated models based on probability theory and statistics. Our study uses as input two large cross-linguistic segment inventory databases and our results show that segments have markedly different borrowability profiles, highlighting their different diffusion patterns through space and time.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 May 2024


  • borrowability
  • language contact
  • phonology
  • probability theory
  • diachrony
  • areality


Dive into the research topics of 'Operationalizing borrowability: phonological segments as a case study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this