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Lucas, Christopher (2014) 'Contact-induced language change.' In: Bowern, Claire and Evans, Bethwyn, (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Historical Linguistics. London: Routledge, pp. 519-536.

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Abstract

Sustained academic interest in contact-induced language change goes back at least to the late nineteenth century, when Hugo Schuchardt (1884: 5) famously opined that no language is entirely free of in uence from other languages (“es gibt keine völlig ungemischte Sprache”). Indeed, the ubiquity of language contact has always been apparent to anyone engaged in language documentation and description. Until recently, however, the phenomenon of contact-induced change has received relatively little attention from more theoreticallyoriented linguists. We can understand why this should be so if we consider the background against which modern historical linguistics developed. First of all there was the development of the Comparative Method by the Neogrammarians. For them it was natural that contactinduced changes should be marginalised, since these are necessarily complications to be abstracted away from when working out a language’s genetic af liation. Later, with the advent of structuralism in the 1920s, there was a signi cant shift away from the study of diachronic questions in general; and even when formal linguists began to take a serious interest in language change, starting in the 1960s and 1970s (e.g. Kiparsky 1968; Lightfoot 1979), the focus was squarely on changes that are not the result of language contact (i.e. ‘internally caused’ changes). Chomsky’s (1965: 3) in uential proposal that “linguistic theory is concerned primarily with an ideal speaker-listener, in a completely homogeneous speechcommunity” doubtless had much to do with this focus on internally caused change. It was probably also connected to a widespread perception that, in the words of Lass (1997: 209), “an endogenous explanation of a phenomenon is more parsimonious, because endogenous change must occur in any case, whereas borrowing is never necessary.” If purely internally caused (= ‘endogenous’) change is in some sense logically prior to contact-induced change, then it is methodologically sound to begin with internally caused change, and only once we have made progress in understanding the mechanisms that underlie this, to then move on to contact-induced change.

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics > Department of Linguistics
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of Linguistics
ISBN: 9780415527897
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315794013-37
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2014 08:47
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/18589

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