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Title: The Early Years of Language Contact: Introduction
Contributor(s): Pfander, Stefan (author); Siegel, Jeff (author)
Publication Date: 2015
DOI: 10.1163/19552629-00801001
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Abstract: This introduction outlines the six articles in this special issue, which analyse the early years of language contact in different locations where a language contact variety emerged. The questions this issue aims to address are first, whether the sociolinguistic conditions in the early period of language contact differed significantly from those of later periods, and if so, whether these conditions had a crucial and disproportionate influence on the contact language that later emerged. Epistemological problems in trying to answer these questions are described: namely, the great time depth in most contexts, and the scarcity of reliable linguistic resources. The solution adopted is to take a wider socio-historical approach. This involves examining population movements, demography and the nature of social interactions, rather than relying primarily on language documentation and/or linguistic texts. The articles generally support the view that significant differences existed between sociolinguistic conditions in the early years and those later on, but the two periods most often do not conform to the common view of earlier small homesteads versus later large plantations. Rather a variety of other distinctions are described. The articles also support a broader view of the Founder Principle: that the varieties spoken by all the earliest inhabitants in each location, including speakers of not only the lexifier but also substrate languages (both imported and indigenous), had a disproportionate impact on the contact language that emerged. In addition, the articles demonstrate commonalities in all six locations in the mechanisms involved in language contact in the early years: borrowing and/or incomplete language acquisition (in varying degrees). The diverse outcomes, however, are largely the consequence of the differing sociolinguistic conditions in the various locations in the later years.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Journal of Language Contact, 8(1), p. 1-12
Publisher: Brill
Place of Publication: The Netherlands
ISSN: 1955-2629
Field of Research (FOR): 200406 Language in Time and Space (incl Historical Linguistics, Dialectology)
HERDC Category Description: C2 Non-Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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