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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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4. The situation of English in multilingual Switzerland 149


149 4. The situation of English in multilingual Switzerland In Chapters 2 and 3 of the present work, I have aimed to illustrate the global role that English plays today, as well as to give a general intro- duction to the topic of language contact. In Chapter 3, the emphasis was laid on two points: societal multilingualism and lexical transfer. After this larger theoretical section, I intend to discuss these issues via spe- cific examples: accordingly, the next two chapters are devoted to two topics which are practical realizations of the tendencies and questions elaborated so far. In the present chapter, my goal is to show, through the example of Switzerland, a traditionally multilingual country, how the presence of International English triggers further changes in the linguis- tic situation, whereas Chapter 5 is devoted to lexical transfer where the international role of English as a source, recipient and transmitting lan- guage will be examined through specific lexical material. As already pointed out before, a new kind of diglossia is emerg- ing today: in some countries, English is more strongly present as an international language in certain situations, which leads to a somewhat shrinking scope of the national language. This phenomenon is typical in countries with a high level of language teaching, due to their suc- cessful economic development, thus, the linguistic conditions of the use of English are fulfilled. In traditionally bi- or multilingual states, such as Finland, for instance, the circumstances are extremely favour- able for such a situation...

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