Language - Social Contexts of Use and Transmission - Language Contact

Language Contact

One important source of language change is contact between different languages and resulting diffusion of linguistic traits between languages. Language contact occurs when speakers of two or more languages or varieties interact on a regular basis. Multilingualism is likely to have been the norm throughout human history, and today most people in the world are multilingual. Before the rise of the concept of the ethno-national state, monolingualism was characteristic mainly of populations inhabiting small islands. But with the ideology that made one people, one, state and one language the most desirable political arrangement monolingualism started to spread throughout the world. Nonetheless there are only 250 countries in the world corresponding to some 6000 languages, so most countries are multilingual and most languages therefore exist in close contact with other languages.

When speakers of different languages interact closely, it is typical for their languages to influence each other. Through sustained language contact over long periods linguistic traits diffuse between languages, and languages belonging to different families may converge to become more similar. In areas where many languages are in close contact this may lead to the formation of language areas in which unrelated languages share a number of linguistic features. A number of such language areas have been documented, among them: the Balkan language area, the Mesoamerican language area, and the Ethiopian language area. Also larger areas such as South Asia, Europe and South East Asia have sometimes been considered language areas, because of widespread diffusion of specific areal features.

Language contact may also lead to a variety of other linguistic phenomena, including language convergence, borrowing, and relexification (replacement of much of the native vocabulary with that of another language). In situations of extreme and sustained language contact it may lead to the formation of new mixed languages that cannot be considered to belong to a single language family. One type of mixed language called pidgins occurs when adult speakers of two different languages interact on a regular basis, but in a situation where neither group learns to learn to speak the language of the other group fluently. In such a case they will often construct a communication form that has traits of both languages, but which has a simplified grammatical and phonological structure, the language comes to contain mostly the grammatical and phonological categories that exist in both languages. Pidgin languages are defined by not having any native speakers, but only being spoken by people who have another language as their first language. But if a Pidgin language becomes the main language of a speech community, then eventually children will grow up learning the pidgin as their first language. As the generation of child learners grow up the pidgin will often be seen to change its structure and acquire a greater degree of complexity. This type of language is generally called a creole language. An example of such mixed languages are Tok Pisin the official language of Papua New-Guinea which originally arose as a Pidgin based on English and Austronesian languages; others are Kreyòl ayisyen the French based creole language spoken in Haiti, and Michif, a mixed language of Canada, based on the Native American language Cree and French.

Read more about this topic:  Language, Social Contexts of Use and Transmission

Other articles related to "language contact, language, languages, contact":

Language Contact - Sign Languages
... Language contact is extremely common in most deaf communities, which are almost always located within a dominant oral language culture ... It can also take place between two or more sign languages, in which case the expected contact phenomena occur — lexical borrowing, foreign "accent", interference, code switching, pidgins, creoles ... However, between a sign language and an oral language, while lexical borrowing and code switching also occur, the interface between the oral and signed modes produces unique phenomena fingerspelling, fingerspelling/si ...
Contact Sign - Language Contact
... Language contact is extremely common in most deaf communities, which are almost always located within a dominant oral language ('hearing') culture ... Deaf people are exposed to the oral language that surrounds them, if only in visual forms like lip reading or writing, from early childhood ... children, if they sign at all, are usually second language learners and their signing style will exhibit features of interference from the oral language ...
List Of Linguists - H
... Harald (Germany, 1946–), evolutionary linguistics, language contact Haas, Mary Rosamund (United States, 1910–1996), Native American languages, Thai language, historical linguistics Hagberg, Carl August (Sweden ... United States, 1911–1997), Romance languages, Pidgins and Creoles Halle, Morris (Latvia/United States, 1923–), phonology, morphology Halliday, Michael Alexander Kirkwood (UK/Australia, 1925–), systemic ... United States, 1920–), Indo-European languages, Native American languages Haq, Mehr Abdul, (Pakistan, 1915–1995), Saraiki language Harder, Peter (Denmark, 1950–), English language, functional linguistics Harkavy ...
Prestige (sociolinguistics) - Linguistic Prestige in Language Contact Situations
... When different languages or language varieties come in contact with one another, a variety of relationships can form between the two, all typically influenced by prestige ... When the two contact languages have equal power or prestige, they form adstratum, as exemplified by Old English and Norse, which shared elements with each other more or less equally ... Far more common is for the two languages to have an unequal power relationship, as is the case of many colonial language contact situations ...
Karaim Language - Syntax
... free word order due to extensive language contact situations, and currently has a preference for SVO constructions (Csató 2001) ... instances of code-copying, whereby Karaim merges with syntactic properties of other languages in its area due to strong language contact situations (Csató 2001) ... The impact of such language contact is also evident in the Karaim lexicon, which has extensive borrowing (Zajaczkowski 1961) ...

Famous quotes containing the words contact and/or language:

    Art is never chaste. It ought to be forbidden to ignorant innocents, never allowed into contact with those not sufficiently prepared. Yes, art is dangerous. Where it is chaste, it is not art.
    Pablo Picasso (1881–1973)

    Translate a book a dozen times from one language to another, and what becomes of its style? Most books would be worn out and disappear in this ordeal. The pen which wrote it is soon destroyed, but the poem survives.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)