Language contact is everywhere - no nation has a completely monolingual citizenry, many nations have more than one official language and, quite possibly, most people in the world speak two or more languages. What happens to different peoples and to their languages when they come into contact? This study attempts to answer this question through a survey of the varied social, political and linguistic consequences of language contacts. After chapters on how languages come into contact and on multilingualism in nations and individuals, the book's focus is on what happens to the languages themselves - sometimes nothing, sometimes new words, sometimes new sounds and sentence structures (which may spread over many languages in a large geographical region); more rarely, entirely new languages arise in a contact situation, either by construction of a new grammatical system or by uniting complementary structures from two different languages. In many cases, one of the languages in contact vanishes entirely, with the result that the rich stock of human linguistic variation is rapidly diminishing all over the world.
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press