Dynamics of Language Contact: English and Immigrant Languages

Dynamics of Language Contact: English and Immigrant Languages

Dynamics of Language Contact: English and Immigrant Languages

Dynamics of Language Contact: English and Immigrant Languages

Synopsis

The past decade has seen an unprecedented growth in the study of language contact, associated partly with the linguistic effects of globalization and increased migration all over the world. Written by a leading expert in the field, this much-needed account brings together disparate findings to examine the dynamics of contact between languages in an immigrant context. Using data from a wide range of languages, including German, Dutch, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish, Croatian and Vietnamese, Michael Clyne discusses the dynamics of their contact with English. Clyne analyzes how and why these languages change in an immigration country like Australia, and asks why some languages survive longer than others. The book contains useful comparisons between immigrant vintages, generations, and between bilinguals and trilinguals. An outstanding contribution to the study of language contact, this book will be welcomed by students and researchers in linguistics, bilingualism, the sociology of language and education.

Excerpt

The series Approaches to Language Contact was set up to publish outstanding monographs on language contact, especially by authors who approach their specific subject matter from a diachronic or developmental perspective. Our goal is to integrate the ever-growing scholarship on language diversification (including the development of creoles, pidgins and indigenized varieties of colonial European languages), bilingual language development, code-switching and language endangerment. We hope to provide a select forum to scholars who contribute insightfully to understanding language evolution from an interdisciplinary perspective. We favour approaches that highlight the role of ecology and draw inspiration both from the authors' own fields of specialization and from related research areas in linguistics or other disciplines. Eclecticism is one of our mottos, as we endeavour to comprehend the complexity of evolutionary processes associated with contact.

We are very proud to add Michael Clyne's Dynamics of Language Contact to the ALC series. Focusing on Australia, and yet relating his findings to those of numerous other scholars on similar phenomena elsewhere, the author provides a most authoritative study on the impact of the dominant language (English in the present case) on other languages. This book is a meticulous documentation of language change under conditions of language shift, spanning several generations of immigrants from Europe, Asia and Latin America. It is a detailed analysis of historical, social and structural factors that bear differentially on how a language is affected by a dominant one, even when the systems are as closely related as are Dutch and German, and when, from the point of view of ethnicity and culture, their speakers can (for all practical purposes) be lumped in the same stock, as opposed to, for instance, the Vietnamese or the Chinese. The facilitating role of typological similarities and differences in both bilinguals and trilinguals are explored very insightfully, showing in a fascinating way that the role of language-internal factors during change under conditions of shift need not be subordinated to that of language-external ones. Yet, genetic linguistic differences do not account for structural erosion in ways that encourage easy, across-the-board predictions, thus corroborating the view that theories of evolution are more about explaining the past than predicting the future. In addition . . .

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