Modeling language contact in English and beyond
Overall aim and objectives of the project
The goal of this project is two-fold: on the methodological plane, the aim is to develop a (partly automatized) methodology to quantitatively gauge the impact of language contact in English (with the possibility of extending the methodology to other languages). On the theoretical plane, the project aims to advance the field of contact linguistics by offering an aggregate large-scale comparative study of contact-induced changes in varieties of English. Adopting such an aggregate perspective will further provide insights into the cognitive processes at play in language contact situations and will increase our understanding of the adaptability of speakers’ grammatical knowledge.
The project presents a systematic analysis of contact-induced changes in all linguistic levels of a language (see Thomason 2001:91–92 on why an aggregate perspective is necessary). By offering such an aggregate perspective, the results of this project can provide new insights into the sociological settings that facilitate contact-induced change and into the type of features (e.g. lexical, syntactic) that are amenable to borrowing (see e.g. Ziegeler to appear). Finally, by differentiating between features that are due to language contact and those that are not as objectively as possible, the current project contributes to the a better understanding of the nature, extent and mechanisms of contact-induced change (Poplack & Levey 2010:410).