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I've been spending a lot of time recently thinking about borrowing and it's
impact on language evolution and change. In particular, I've been looking at
work by Russel Gray and the like on borrowing in IE. Here's an abstract to
one of the articles I've been reading:

http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2010/11/23/rspb.2010.1917.full

Language evolution is traditionally described in terms of family trees with
ancestral languages splitting into descendent languages. However, it has
long been recognized that language evolution also entails horizontal
components, most commonly through lexical borrowing. For example, the
English language was heavily influenced by Old Norse and Old French; eight
per cent of its basic vocabulary is borrowed. Borrowing is a distinctly
non-tree-like process—akin to horizontal gene transfer in genome
evolution—that cannot be recovered by phylogenetic trees. Here, we infer the
frequency of hidden borrowing among 2346 cognates (etymologically related
words) of basic vocabulary distributed across 84 Indo-European languages.
The dataset includes 124 (5%) known borrowings. Applying the uniformitarian
principle to inventory dynamics in past and present basic vocabularies, we
find that 1373 (61%) of the cognates have been affected by borrowing during
their history. Our approach correctly identified 117 (94%) known borrowings.
Reconstructed phylogenetic networks that capture both vertical and
horizontal components of evolutionary history reveal that, on average, eight
per cent of the words of basic vocabulary in each Indo-European language
were involved in borrowing during evolution. Basic vocabulary is often
assumed to be relatively resistant to borrowing. Our results indicate that
the impact of borrowing is far more widespread than previously thought.


So, I'm curious. In light of this, how many of you work in borrowings from
non-native phonologies/lexicons into your conlangs? Is it necessary to set
up several different families and related languages in order to have a
realistic conlang? What do you guys think about this sort of thing? The age
of the language and contact is of course a factor.