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22 - Structural Outcomes of Language Contact

from Part Five - Contact and Language Structures

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 June 2022

Salikoko Mufwene
University of Chicago
Anna Maria Escobar
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
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The chapter re-positions the study of contact-induced language change in the context of the individual user’s management of a complex repertoire of linguistic structures. Taking as a point of departure the assumption that for multilinguals, boundaries among “languages” are permeable and subject to users’ creativity, I draw links between structural outcomes of contact and the inherent functions that structural categories have in information processing in communication. Topics covered include code-switching, lexical borrowing, functional and grammatical borrowing, and convergence and contact-induced grammaticalization. I examine proposed hierarchies of borrowability in lexicon and grammar, and revisit the notion of “constraints” on borrowing. I argue in favour of an epistemology that identifies trends as worthy of attention even if isolated exceptions exist; and which seeks to derive explanatory models from such cross-linguistic trends. I conclude that the study of structural outcomes of language contact can contribute to a better understanding of the language faculty itself, and possibly even of key aspects of the evolution of human language.

The Cambridge Handbook of Language Contact
Volume 2: Multilingualism in Population Structure
, pp. 593 - 617
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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