Contact linguistics

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In general terms, contact linguistics is the linguistic consideration of languages ​​and their speakers that are in social contact with one another. According to the definition of Földes (2010, p. 142): "Contact linguistics deals with the recording, description, modeling, typing, interpretation and evaluation of any manifestations of language contact, both with regard to the conditions and the Process and its outcome, including the contact behavior and contact experience of the speakers. " The result of such contacts can be multilingualism , the formation of areal distributions of language features , the extinction of languages and the formation of mixed languages and pidgin or creole languages .

Today many countries have laws governing the use of certain languages. This applies both to the languages ​​of local ethnic groups, such as Sorbian in Germany, and to minority languages ​​such as the mother tongues of immigrants from other countries.

Methods of contact linguistics

Research in the field of contact linguistics includes socio- and psycholinguistic as well as language- typological and language-historical components.

Socio- and psycholinguistic research looks primarily at the status of languages ​​that are in contact and the effects of this status on the characteristics of the language. In addition, the multilingualism and its consequences for the individual languages ​​as well as language acquisition in contact zones are examined.

The area of ​​language typology researches how languages ​​can influence each other when they are in contact. The area typology examines the long-term contact of languages ​​in an area. In Eurasia , for example, extensive migrations of peoples and trade relations over the past millennia have resulted in a huge linguistic union that includes the entire double continent, apart from the high mountain regions in the Caucasus and Himalayas and the Pacific coast .

Typological research on pidgin and creole languages only began scientifically in the last few years of the 20th century, but is taking up more and more space.

In historical linguistics, the language change that arises through language contact is examined. The emergence of new dialects - and the further development of new languages ​​- can be particularly well understood using the example of Latin , which has developed into a whole group of languages, the Romance languages . When the official language Latin came into contact with local languages, it was changed so much in a relatively short period of time that just a few hundred years after the end of the Roman Empire, mutual intelligibility was no longer possible.


  • Michael Clyne: Dynamics of Language Contact. English and Immigrant Languages. Digital print. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge 2007.
  • Csaba Földes: Intercultural Linguistics. Preliminary considerations on concepts, problems and desiderata. (= Studia Germanica Universitatis Vesprimiensis, Supplement. 1). University Press, Veszprém / Edition Praesens, Vienna 2003, ISBN 3-7069-0230-3 . (on-line)
  • Csaba Földes: Contact German: On the theory of a variety type under transcultural conditions of multilingualism . Gunter Narr Verlag, Tübingen 2005, ISBN 3-8233-6160-0 . (on-line)
  • Csaba Földes: What is contact linguistics? Notes on the location, content and methods of a scientific culture on the move. In: Hubert Bergmann, Manfred Michael Glauninger, Evelyne Wandl-Vogt, Stefan Winterstein (eds.): Focus on dialect. Analyze - Document - Communicate. Festschrift for Ingeborg Geyer on his 60th birthday. (= German Linguistics. 199-201). Olms Hildesheim / Zurich / New York 2010, pp. 133–156. (on-line)
  • Susanne Mahlstedt: Bilingual education in mixed-language families. An analysis of the success-related characteristics . Frankfurt am Main et al. 1996.
  • Wolfgang W. Moelleken, Peter J. Weber (Hrsg.): New research work on contact linguistics . (= Plurilingua. 19). Dümmler, Bonn 1997.
  • PH Nelde (Ed.): Theories, methods and models of contact linguistics . Dümmler, Bonn 1985.
  • PH Nelde (Ed.): Current trends in contact linguistics . Dümmler, Bonn 1983.
  • PH Nelde (Hrsg.): Methods of contact linguistics . Dümmler, Bonn 1983.
  • Claudia Maria Riehl: Language contact research: an introduction . 2., revised. Edition. Narr, Tübingen 2009.