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Linguistic Interference and First-Language Attrition

German and Hungarian in the San Francisco Bay Area


Gergely Tóth

Studies on the interaction of languages are gaining importance in today’s world, which is characterized by accelerated migration and increasing cultural exchange. In contrast to most research in this field, which concentrates on one embedded language against a matrix language, Gergely Tóth examines the linguistic behaviors in two immigrant speech communities, German and Hungarian, against the background of English. The results of linguistic interference and the ongoing attrition process in these communities are the main focus of this book. By offering a thorough description of linguistic, biographical, and sociolinguistic data spanning three generations in each community, and by contrasting the findings and the detailed error statistics yielded by 500 sentences from each of these two non-related embedded languages, this work contributes to our understanding of contact linguistic mechanisms and sheds light on specific grammatical and lexical features that are most prone to attritional forces. An in-depth historical portrayal of these two speech communities in San Francisco and a complete list of the 1,000 sentences with all identified speaker errors complement the volume.