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Ways of the World’s Words

Language Contact in the Age of Globalization


Zsuzsa Hoffmann

This book investigates lexical borrowing processes of our era in a sociolinguistic context. Innovatively, it seeks to examine language contact in a comprehensive way, taking into account socio- and psycholinguistic aspects as well as implications for language politics.
As the sociolinguistic focus is primary, the volume also discusses how technology influences languages and to what extent it creates new conditions for language contact. As a result, it is proposed that the term language contact needs to be reevaluated, since the context of globalization has changed its very essence.
As the increase in the importance of English has been the most significant global geolinguistic event in the past fifty years, the role of English as an international lingua franca in modern borrowing is analyzed in detail. Two case studies are also given, one on the role of English in the EU and another on the linguistic situation of multilingual Switzerland. The characteristic features of lexical borrowing are illustrated in a complex way on linguistic material of a total of over 5000 recent loans in English, Spanish, German and Hungarian.


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3. Language contact 85


85 3. Language contact In the previous chapter, I looked at the international role of English: in what status it is present in different parts of the world, what types of contacts it has with other languages and, specifically, what position it occupies today in the European Union. My approach was a largely so- ciolinguistic one, however, in order to deal with the present topic in its entirety, a further discipline of linguistics must be drawn into the in- vestigation: the study of language contact. The questions regarding multilingual societies as well as contact situations between individual languages can be understood better if we investigate the problem also from the contact linguistic aspect, apart from the sociolinguistic per- spective. Therefore, in what follows, I consider it very important to clarify terms of contact linguistics in multilingual situations, classify- ing types of language contact and demonstrating how it manifests it- self at various levels of linguistic description. This proves to be neces- sary in order to be able to use the technical terms of this discipline properly in a later chapter examining specific linguistic material. 3.1. On language contact in general “There are no fully homogeneous languages” – states Schuchardt as early as in 1884 (1884: 5). Indeed, languages of the world cannot exist in isolation from each other; they are in contact, in which they have been for thousands of years. One needs only to think of the Rosetta Stone (196 BC), for instance, which contains both Greek letters and Egyptian...

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