Language-Specific Transitivities in Contact: The Case of Coptic

Eitan Grossman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This paper sketches the integration of Greek-origin loan verbs into the valency and transitivity patterns of Coptic (Afroasiatic, Egypt), arguing that transitivities are language-specific descriptive categories, and the comparison of donor-language transitivity with target-language transitivity reveals fine-grained degrees of loan-verb integration. Based on a comparison of Coptic Transitivity and Greek Transitivity, it is shown that Greek-origin loanwords are only partially integrated into the transitivity patterns of Coptic. Specifically, while Greek-origin loan verbs have the same coding properties as native verbs in terms of the A domain, i.e., Differential Subject Marking (dsm), they differ in important respects in terms of the P domain, i.e., Differential Object Marking (dom) and Differential Object Indexing (doi). A main result of this study is that language contact - specifically, massive lexical borrowing - can induce significant transitivity splits in a language's lexicon and grammar. Furthermore, the findings of this study cast doubt on the usefulness of an overarching cross-linguistic category of transitivity.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)89-115
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Language Contact
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© eitan grossman, 2018.


  • Coptic
  • Greek
  • grammatical relations
  • language contact
  • loan words
  • typology
  • verb borrowing


Dive into the research topics of 'Language-Specific Transitivities in Contact: The Case of Coptic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this