What is language contact and how does it influence language change? (2023)


Glossary of grammatical and rhetorical terms

What is language contact and how does it influence language change? (1)


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Richard Nordquist

Richard Nordquist

Professor of English and Rhetoric.

  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
  • MA in Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., Englisch, State University of New York

Richard Nordquist, MD, is Professor Emeritus of Rhetoric and English at Georgia Southern University and the author of several college-level writing and grammar textbooks.

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Updated January 20, 2020

Language contactis the social and linguistic phenomenon that makes speakers more diverseLanguages(the differencedialectssame language) interact with each other and result in transmission ofLinguisticsResources.


“Language contact is an important factor inlanguage change' observes Stephan Gramley, author of several books on the English language. “Contact with other languages ​​and other dialects of a language is a source of alternatives.pronunciations, grammatical structures andvocabulary." Prolonged language contact often leads tobilingualismÖmultilingualism.

Uriel Weinreich (Languages ​​in Contact, 1953) and Einar Haugen (The Norwegian Language in America, 1953) are widely regarded as pioneers of language contact research. Weinreich was the first to establish that second language learners see the linguistic forms of their first and second language as the same.


Language contacts often take place across borders or through migration. The transmission of words or phrases can be one-way or two-way. The Chinese, for example, influenced the Japanese, although the opposite was not true. Bi-directional influence is less common and mostly limited to certain regions.

Pidgins are generally developed for commercial purposes. These are a few hundred words that can be said between people of different languages.

Creoles, on the other hand, are complete languages ​​resulting from the mingling of more than one language and are often a person's first language.

In recent decades, the Internet has brought many languages ​​into contact and influenced each other.

Still, only a few languages ​​dominate the web and influence others, the site notes.translate media🇧🇷 English dominates by far, along with Russian, Korean and German. Languages ​​spoken by millions of people, such as Spanish and Arabic, are also comparatively underrepresented on the Internet. As a result, English words influence other languages ​​around the world to a much greater extent as a direct result of internet use.

In France, the English term "cloud computing" has come into common use, despite efforts to get French speakers to "Cloud Computing".

Examples and Notes

“[What] counts as language contact? The mere juxtaposition of two speakers of different languages, or two texts in different languages, is too trivial to count: as long as the speakers or the texts do not interact in some way, there can be no linguistic transfer of knowledge. Characteristics in any direction Only with a certain interaction is there the possibility of a declaration of contact, e.gsynchronousvariant ordiachronchange arise. Throughout human history, most language contact has been face-to-face, and most of the time the people involved were fluent in both languages ​​to a non-trivial degree. Especially in the modern world with the new means of traveling around the world and mass communication, there are other possibilities: Today, many contacts only take place via the written language. 🇧🇷
“Voice contact is the norm, not the exception. We would be rightly surprised to find a language whose speakers have successfully avoided contact with all other languages ​​for a period of more than a hundred years or two.”
—Sarah Thomason, "Contact Statements in Linguistics." "The Language Contact Handbook", ed. by Raymond Hickey. Wiley-Blackwell, 2013
"In order to have something that we would recognize as 'language contact,' people need to learn at least part of two or more different language codes. And in practice, 'language contact' is only really recognized when a code becomes more similar to other codes as a result of that interaction.
– Danny Law, “Language contact, inherited similarity and social difference”. John Benjamins, 2014)

Different types of language contact situations

“Voice contact is obviously not a homogeneous phenomenon. Contact can occur between genetically related or unrelated languages, speakers can have similar or very different social structures, and patterns of multilingualism can also be very different. The community speaks more than one variety, while in other cases only a portion of the population is multilingual.lectalismIt may vary based on age, ethnicity, gender, social class, level of education, or one or more other factors. Some communities have few restrictions on situations where more than one language can be used, while others have severe restrictionsdiglosia, and each language is limited to a specific type of social interaction. 🇧🇷
“Although there are a variety of different language contact situations, some are common in areas where linguists conduct field research. One of them is dialect contact, for example between standard varieties of a language and regional varieties (e.g. in France or in the Arabic world). ...
“Another type of language contact is exogamous communities, where more than one language can be used within the community because their members come from different language areas to exclude outsiders. ...
"Finally, field researchers often work in vulnerable language communities where language change is underway."
– Claire Bowern, “Fieldwork in Contact Situations.” “The Language Contact Handbook”, ed. by Raymond Hickey. Wiley-Blackwell, 2013

The study of language contact

“Manifestations of language contact are found in a variety of areas, includinglanguage acquisition, processing and production of language,Conversationmispeaks, social functions of language and language politics,Typologyand language change and much more. 🇧🇷
"The study of language contact is valuable in understanding the internal functions and structure of 'Grammatik' and the ability to speak itself."
– Yaron Matras, „Sprachkontakt“. Cambridge University Press, 2009
"A very naïve view of language contact would probably claim that speakers take on a set of formal and functional propertiesSemiotics Signfrom the corresponding contact language, so to speak, and enter it in your own language. This vision is of course too simplistic and is no longer taken seriously. A probably more realistic view held in language contact research is that any type of material transmitted in a language contact situation, that material will necessarily undergo some type of modification by the contact.
- Peter Siemund, "Language Contact: Constraints and Common Pathways of Contact-Induced Language Change." "Contact Languages ​​and Contact Languages", ed. by Peter Siemund and Noemi Kintana. John Benjamins, 2008

Language contact and grammatical change

"[The] transfer of meanings and grammatical structures between languages ​​is regular and ... shaped by universal processes of grammatical change. Using data from a variety of languages ​​... we argue that this transfer is essentially in agreement with the beginnings ofgrammaticalization, and that these principles are the same whether it is a voice contact or not, and whether it is a one-way or multi-way transmission. 🇧🇷
“[When] we began the work leading to this book, we assumed that the grammatical change that occurs as a result of language contact is fundamentally different from purely internal language change. With regard to replication, which is the central theme of the present work, this assumption turned out to be unfounded: between the two there is no crucial difference observed in either. Nevertheless, there are reasons to believe that language contact in general and grammatical replication in particular can accelerate grammatical changes. ..."
– Bernd Heine and Tania Kuteva, “Language contact and grammatical change”. Cambridge University Press, 2005

Old English and Old Norse

“Contact-induced grammaticalization is part of contact-induced grammatical change, and its literature has consistently pointed out that language contact often entails a loss of meaning.Grammatical Categories🇧🇷 A common example to illustrate this type of situation includesOld Englishand Old Norse, with Old Norse having been brought to the British Isles by the heavy settlement of Danish Vikings in the Danelaw area in the 9th to 11th centuries. The result of this linguistic contact is reflected in the language system ofOld English, one of the features is the absence ofgrammatical gender🇧🇷 In this particular situation of language contact, there seems to be an additional factor that led to the loss, namely genetic proximity and consequently the desire to reduce the "functional overload" of the bilingual Old English and Old Norse speakers.
"Therefore, an explanation of 'functional overload' seems a plausible way to explain what we observed in Middle English, i.e. after Old English and Old Norse came into contact: gender assignment often diverged in Old English and Old Norse, which quickly led to this to remove them to avoid confusion and reduce the stress of learning the other contrastive system.
- Tania Kuteva and Bernd Heine, "An integrative model of grammaticalization". by Björn Wiemer, Bernhard Wälchli and Björn Hansen. Walter de Gruyter, 2012




your date

Nordquist, Richard. "Definition and examples of contact language." ThoughtCo, August 28, 2020, Thoughtco.com/what-is-language-contact-4046714.Nordquist, Richard. (2020, August 28). Definition and examples of contact language. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-language-contact-4046714Norquist, Ricardo. "Contact language definition and examples". ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-language-contact-4046714 (accessed December 20, 2022).


How language contact influence language change? ›

The result of the contact of two languages can be the replacement of one by the other. This is most common when one language has a higher social position (prestige). This sometimes leads to language endangerment or extinction.

What do you mean by language contact? ›

Updated on January 20, 2020. Language contact is the social and linguistic phenomenon by which speakers of different languages (or different dialects of the same language) interact with one another, leading to a transfer of linguistic features.

What is the difference of language contact from language change? ›

Language contact may result to a complete shift from the language, which is assimilation. It can lead to change in the forms of the language involved or emergency of a contact language where the speakers of the languages in contact lack sufficient time to learn each other language or are not willing to do so or both.

What are 3 influences that can change a language? ›

Traditional theories of historical linguistics identify three main types of change: systematic change in the pronunciation of phonemes, or sound change; borrowing, in which features of a language or dialect are altered as a result of influence from another language or dialect; and analogical change, in which the shape ...

What are the factors which influence the ways language change? ›

Indeed, several factors contribute to language change, invented words, borrowing, new technologies, trades and migration often occurring in response to social, economic and political pressures if enough users alter the way the language should be spoken.

How does language change and who changes it? ›

Language learning: Language is transformed as it is transmitted from one generation to the next. Each individual must re-create a grammar and lexicon based on input received from parents, older siblings and other members of the speech community.

What is the importance of understanding language contact? ›

The study of language contact can lead to great benefits, both practical and theoretical. Research on its social aspects can lead to insights on group relationships and group identities, and how they are shaped by processes of accommodation in some circumstances and by divergence and conflict in others.

What is contact with example? ›

Verb For more information, contact the city's tourism office. We were able to contact them by radio. She contacted everyone on the list. Adjective Ice hockey is a contact sport.

What happens after a language contact? ›

One of the main outcomes of language contact is interference. It occurs when speakers of a language adopt semantic, phonetic or syntactic features of the language they come in contact with. This phenomenon occurred to Spanish in Argentina.

Does language contact always lead to language shift? ›

At a very broad level of categorization, the outcomes of language contact can be language maintenance, language shift or language creation. The outcomes are all results of mechanisms commonly found in situations of language contact, but do not always lead to the extreme results of language shift or creation.

How does interaction affect language change? ›

Children naturally acquire a language in social contexts where they interact with their caregivers. Indeed, research shows that social interaction facilitates lexical and phonological development at the early stages of child language acquisition.

What language has affected English through contact? ›

Although the English language has changed through contact with other languages such as French, Latin, Hindi and Jamaican, it has also been manipulated by the needs of the speak- ers themselves, whether consciously or subconsciously.


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