Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 December 2020
This paper explores multilingual language contact in seemingly unrelated settings: translation and English as a lingua franca, also touching on learner language. By delving into similar processes in these settings at three levels – the macro level of a language as a whole, the intermediate level of social interaction and the micro level of cognition – it argues that translation and ELF are sites of multilingual contact resulting in a degree of hybridization in the languages involved, and are thereby important drivers of language change. It is suggested that macro-level similarities in translation and ELF, such as the relative over-representation of high-frequency items and structures and untypical multiword combinations, ensue from interactional and cognitive processes where one fundamental mechanism is priming. Translations engage in cross-linguistic textual priming, while users of ELF interact with other ‘similects’ in complex second-order language contact. Both can contribute crucially to understanding processes of change and contact-induced variation.