Dynamics of Language Contact: English and Immigrant Languages

By Michael Clyne | Go to book overview

5 Dynamics of transversion

5.1 Introduction

In chapter 4, we focused on mechanisms of transference, convergence and integration in contact-induced change. Data was drawn from languages with different typological features, in contact with English. Chapter 5 complements this. It will develop and illustrate across languages some principles for the structural facilitation of transversion, including the role of convergence. The discussion will focus on facilitators rather than constraints. The chapter utilizes Australian data from bi- and trilinguals as an example to focus on transversion between languages and how this varies between languages in contact and the applicability of current models to this.

In this chapter, it will not be possible to separate the linguistic and psycholinguistic dimensions completely as the latter helps elucidate the former. However, the psycholinguistic implications will be drawn in chapter 6.

This chapter develops from earlier studies (e.g. Clyne 1967, 1972a, 1977a, 1980b) where the facilitation of switching was considered mainly a lexical issue. In this chapter, the role of facilitation at the prosodic and syntactic levels will also be explored. Also, it will be argued that what had previously been described in terms of grammatical constraints could realistically be conceptualized in terms of facilitation. It is hoped that this chapter might stimulate more discussion of typological variation in switching phenomena.


5.2 Sociolinguistic and discourse motivation for transversion

In this section, we will discuss the way intraclausal transversion may be facilitated by lexical and structural overlap and convergence. The explanation for interclausal transversion, on the other hand, lies largely in the discourse, in the sociolinguistic setting (interlocutor, domain, topic, role-relationship, venue, channel of communication, interaction type), or in the speaker's preference for separating languages (Clyne 1972a: 99–101). As the emphasis in this chapter is on structural facilitation of transversion, we will not discuss sociolinguistic and discourse motivation in detail, there being many excellent treatments

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