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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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6. Conclusion 305


305 6. Conclusion The starting point of the present study was the incontrovertible fact that English has a leading role in today’s global language system. This idea is shared by several billions of people as an everyday fact, but the situation is also described and analyzed by different linguistic models. Among these, I have paid special attention to Kachru’s (1985), Phil- lipson’s (1996) and Trudgill’s (2001) approaches, pointing out their strong points and possible deficiencies. In my view, global linguistic relations at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries are mainly governed by globalization, thus I have opted for de Swaan’s theoretical frame- work (2001) to characterize this situation. Unlike others, his approach views the languages of the world as members of a unified global lan- guage system in which the languages are in strong relation with each other. De Swaan’s model depicts the situation of languages as influ- enced by their economic and social background, consequently, he at- tributes changes in the global language system also to such factors. His framework takes into account primarily demographic, geopoliti- cal, economic and cultural factors, but, at the same time, also consid- ers linguistic interest, as well as measures and strategies of language policies of different states. When analyzing the role of languages in the global language system and defining their place occupied in the hierarchy, de Swaan takes external circumstances into consideration, thereby almost en- tirely ignoring internal elements of languages. However, it is obvious that the emergence of a...

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