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Though this be contact, yet there is system in’t: Was man noch heute von Uriel Weinreich über Sprachkontakt lernen kann
Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.(William Shakespeare, Hamlet, 2. Akt, 2. Szene)
Abstract: Uriel Weinreich (1926–1967) was one of the founding fathers of both contact linguistics and sociolinguistics. Among his best-known works are his 1953 monograph Languages in contact, his 1954 article Is a structural dialectology possible?, and the seminal paper on Empirical foundations for a theory of language change (co-authored with William Labov and Marvin Herzog, published posthumously in 1968). Besides giving a brief biographical sketch, my contribution concentrates on two aspects that make Weinreich’s classical texts worth re-reading as well as relevant for my own work dealing with a construction grammar model for language contact phenomena. Firstly, there is no fundamental difference between language contact and dialect contact; both can be tackled with the same theoretical and analytical tools (in contrast to the later establishment of contact linguistics and sociolinguistics as rather autonomous subdisciplines). Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Weinreich’s work emphasizes the systematicity of language contact, both in its relation to the social parameters of the language contact situation and in the inter-systemic relations between the different languages involved, which are represented by diasystematic links.
1. Uriel Weinreich,
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