Voice contact

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Language contact , also language contact , is a technical term from linguistics and describes the encounter of two or more individual languages or linguistic varieties either on a collective level (speaker community) or on an individual level (individual language users).

One of the phenomena is code switching and code mixing.

Forms and explanations of language contact

Network of suspected family relationships as an example, within the Indo-European language family . The red lines indicate the language contact within the language groups.

When considering the language contact on the individual side, the occurring phenomena are described from a psycholinguistic point of view. Language contact is seen as a state in which “two or more languages ​​are used alternately by one and the same individual” (Weinreich, 1953). From the point of view of the speaker community, however, the phenomenon is viewed from a sociolinguistic perspective. There is contact between languages ​​“if they are used in the same group” (Riehl, 2004). In both cases, the concept of bilingualism plays a central role, and in practice the two levels are closely related, so that in individual cases it is often not possible to clearly determine the extent to which psychological and sociological factors are responsible for contact phenomena.

Since people are always on the move, it can be assumed that language contact takes place at all times and in all geographical areas. The prototypical case of language contact is that which occurs when two language communities are geographically close. But migration, trade, tourism and foreign language teaching are also conditions that promote language contact and indicate the complexity of this area.

When examining the consequences of speech contact, two main phenomena are of interest: linguistic interference , i.e. the influence of one language on another, and linguistic integrations, i.e. the results of the influences in the receiving language. Particularly striking is the vocabulary level at which borrowings ( foreign words , loan words , loan translations , etc.) represent a priority area of ​​investigation. However, there are interference and integration phenomena at all language levels, including grammar and pragmatics .

Different languages ​​and varieties have different prestige (for example, dialects are less regarded as “high-level languages”, and as a foreign language - especially with regard to the choice of subjects at school - English has a higher prestige than Russian, for example ). If one of the languages ​​involved has a higher prestige than the other in a language contact situation, this can lead to a change of language (e.g. code switching ) on an individual level , which means that the original language, usually the mother tongue , is given up in favor of the second becomes. The language change occurs particularly when one of the language groups is politically or economically dominant. The dominant language is then mostly used by the speakers of the non-dominant language group as an administrative or business language and later penetrates further and further into everyday language usage. In the case of ethnic minorities, for example, this can lead to the gradual abandonment of their own languages.

The following are the consequences of language contact at the level of the speaking community:

Speech contact phenomena from contact linguistics , a neighboring field of contrastive linguistics, are examined .


  • Csaba Földes: What is contact linguistics? Notes on the location, content and methods of a scientific culture on the move . In: Bergmann, Hubert / Glauninger, Manfred Michael / Wandl-Vogt, Evelyne / Winterstein, Stefan (eds.): Focus 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, available online .
  • Stefan Michael Newerkla : Language contacts German - Czech - Slovak. Dictionary of German loanwords in Czech and Slovak: historical development, evidence, previous and new interpretations. Second, continuously revised and updated edition (= writings on languages ​​and texts 7). Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2011, ISBN 978-3-631-61026-8 (print), ISBN 978-3-653-03121-8 (e-book), doi : 10.3726 / 978-3-653-03121- 8 .
  • Els Oksaar: Principles and methods of linguistic interference and transfer research . In: Besch, Werner / Reichmann, Oskar / Sonderegger, Stefan (eds.): Language history. A handbook on the history of the German language and its research , part 1 (= handbooks on linguistics and communication studies, 2). De Gruyter, Berlin 1984, pp. 662-669.
  • Els Oksaar: Principles and methods of linguistic interference and transfer research . In: Besch, Werner / Reichmann, Oskar / Sonderegger, Stefan (eds.): Language history. A handbook on the history of the German language and its research , part 1 (= handbooks on language and communication studies, 2). De Gruyter, Berlin 1984, pp. 845-854.
  • Claudia Riehl: Language contact research. An introduction . Narr Verlag, Tübingen 2004.
  • Kurt-Erich Schöndorf: Linguistic-literary relations between Lower Germany and Scandinavia in the Middle Ages . In: Results and tasks of German studies at the end of the 20th century. Festschrift for Ludwig Erich Schmitt on his 80th birthday, presented by his students and friends . Edited, introduced and indexed by Elisabeth Feldbusch. Olms-Weidmann, Hildesheim / Zurich / New York 1989, pp. 96–129.
  • Carlo Tagliavini: Introduction to Romance Philology . 2nd Edition. Francke, Basel - Tübingen 1998, ISBN 3-8252-8137-X (UTB), ISBN 3-7720-2259-6 (Francke).
  • Uriel Weinreich: Languages ​​in Contact. Results and problems of bilingualism research . Beck, Munich 1977 (German translation of the book from 1953).
  • Karl Wühren: The influence of German on the Scandinavian languages . In: Mother tongue 1954, pp. 448–459.
  • Stefan Weninger: Aramaic-Arabic Language Contact . In: The Semitic Languages. An International Handbook . Edited by Stefan Weninger in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck and Janet CE Watson (= handbooks for language and communication science , 36). De Gruyter, Berlin 2011, pp. 747-755.

Web links

Wiktionary: Language contact  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
  • "Kontaktdeutsch" (PDF; 2.8 MB) - On the theory of a variety type under transcultural conditions of multilingualism