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1 - Language Contact: What a Rich and Intellectually Stimulating History since the Late Nineteenth Century!

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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 June 2022

Salikoko S. Mufwene
University of Chicago
Anna María Escobar
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
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This chapter is about the evolution of language contact as a research area from the late nineteenth century to the present. It underscores the catalyst part that the discovery of creoles and pidgins by European philologists and other precursors of modern linguistics played in highlighting the roles of population movement and language contact as actuators of language change and speciation. It draws attention to the significance of the study of language evolution in European colonies in making evident the realities of language coexistence. These include the possible competition that can cause language shift and the death of one or some of the coexistent languages, a process that has affected competing European vernaculars faster than it has, for instance, Native American languages. It underscores the expansion of the field as linguists became interested in phenomena such as interference, codeswitching (or translanguaging), codemixing, diglossia, language diasporas, and linguistic areas, as well as factors that facilitate or favor the evolution of structures, sometimes of the same language, in divergent ways, owing to changes in population structures.

The Cambridge Handbook of Language Contact
Volume 1: Population Movement and Language Change
, pp. 3 - 40
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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