14.1014, Review: Historical Ling: Jones and Esch (2002)

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LINGUIST List:  Vol-14-1014. Fri Apr 4 2003. ISSN: 1068-4875.

Subject: 14.1014, Review: Historical Ling: Jones and Esch (2002)

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Date:  Fri, 04 Apr 2003 18:25:51 +0000
From:  Hurriyet Gokdayi <hgokdayi at mersin.edu.tr>
Subject:  Language Change

-------------------------------- Message 1 -------------------------------

Date:  Fri, 04 Apr 2003 18:25:51 +0000
From:  Hurriyet Gokdayi <hgokdayi at mersin.edu.tr>
Subject:  Language Change

Jones, Mari and Edith Esch, ed. (2002) Language Change: The Interplay
of Internal, External and Extra-Linguistic Factors, Mouton de Gruyter,
Contributions to the Sociology of Language 86.

Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/13/13-2607.html

Hurriyet Gokdayi, Mersin University (Turkey)


For a long time, linguists have been trying to explain why languages
change.  With ''Language Change The Interplay of Internal, External
and Extra-Linguistic Factors,'' Jones and Esch take another step to
answer this long-standing question.  The main aim of the book, as
stated in the introduction, is ''to provide evidence from a number of
different languages and language families to counter the apparent
tendency that has existed in the past to see the explanation of
language change as a choice between ''language-internal'' and
''language-external'' factors'' (p.1).  Furthermore, the book aims at
examining the role of ''extra-linguistic'' factors in language change
and their interaction with internal and external forces.  The present
volume is a collection of 14 essays grouped under four parts with four
themes, namely levelling, convergence, adaptive mechanisms and
code-copying.  The volume starts with an introduction by Jones and
Farrar (pp. 1-16) and continues with the essays (19-327) followed by
an author index (pp. 329-333) and a subject index (335-338).


1. Levelling (19-139) Chapter 1: David Hornsby: Dialect contact and
koinéization: the case of northern France (pp. 19-28).  Hornsby
discusses contact phenomenon in a northern French town, Avion, by
exploring the interaction between extra-linguistic factors and
internal process of language change.  Having investigated contact
between the Avion dialect and standard French, the author finds out
that although the local dialect has lost most of its morphological
variants, it still demonstrates features different from the standard
variety.  He considers the result of contact situation in the town as
''simplification'' rather than levelling.  To explain why some
dialectal features survived better than others did, he compares
contact situation in Avion with that of Burträsk in northern Sweden.
Comparing two cases reveals that levelling seems to have had a more
powerful role in Burträsk but not in Avion.  The reason for this
outcome lies at the effect of the extra-linguistic factors (i.e.,
socio-economic and socio-political) to the process of language change.
That is, Burträsk seems to meet a low-contact situation while Avion is
to meet a high-contact situation.  Therefore, Hornsby suggest that
''all the koinéization processes ... are likely to operate wherever
dialect contact occurs, a low-contact situation may favor levelling
while a high-contact situation is more likely to favor
simplification'' (p. 26).

Chapter 2: Tim Pooley: The depicardization of the vernaculars of the
Lille conurbation (pp. 29-62).  This chapter continues examining the
contact-induced levelling caused predominantly by socio-historical
changes from the mid 19th century to the present time in an urban
area, Lille, in northern France.  Having analyzed data derived from
oral sources in a long lasting period of time (1910-1995), Pooley
finds out that the regional dialect, Picard, in the Lille area has
lost its 14 distinctive features at the same time.  This loss was due
to both internal (the frequency and distributional range of items) and
external (contact-induced levelling occurred between Picard and
standard/vernacular varieties of French) factors.  However, as Pooley
argues, it seems that a combination of socio-historical elements
(urbanization, immigration, education, mobility, a stable economic
base, and a new life style) was the most important factor for this
change in the Lille area.  That is to say that the depicardization
process in the Lille conurbation cannot be explained without a proper
understanding of the effects of the extra-linguistic factors.

Chapter 3: Enam Al-Wer: Jordanian and Palestinian dialects in contact:
vowel raising in Amman (pp. 63-79).  In this chapter, Al-Wer studies
linguistic features of the emerging dialect in Jordanian capital,
Amman.  This new dialect is an outcome of the contact between
Jordanian and Palestinian dialects in the city.  She examines data
derived from 30 speakers, half of them Jordanian and the rest
Palestinian origin.  Her examination reveals that a combination of
internal, external and extra-linguistic factors is the main motivation
for the emerging Ammani dialect.  Extra-linguistic factors are the
feelings of local identity and gender.  For example, female speakers
use the new dialect more consistently than the male speakers do.
External factors are levelling and regional koinéization.  For
example, the younger speakers of the Ammani dialect demonstrate the
raising of the feminine ending variable (ah) /a/ to /ae/, adopting
phonological characteristic of the Palestinian (i.e.,Levantine)
dialect rule.  Considering internal factors, the vocalic movements in
the new dialect occur generally in the framework of Labov's principles
of chain shifting vowels.  For example, the speakers of the new
dialect rise long vowels and move back vowels to the front.  With her
discussion throughout the chapter, Al-Wer shows how three kinds of
different factors contributed the formation of the Ammani dialect.

Chapter 4: Paul Kerswill and Ann Williams: ''Salience'' as an
explanatory factor in language change: evidence from dialect levelling
in urban England (pp. 81-110).  This chapter explores ''salience'' as
a potential explanatory factor in dialect contact and language change.
Kerswill and Williams start with a discussion of six cases where
salience has been cited with an explanatory capacity.  This discussion
reveals that salience ''is a useful notion only if the definition
adopted avoids circularity'' and that ''can only be achieved if it is
defined against extra-linguistic criteria'' (e.g., cognitive, social
psychological factors) (p. 87).  With this in mind, the authors
discuss Trudgill's notion of salience (1987) and argue that five
factors, Trudgill identifies, are useful to explain salience only when
they are considered as interacting with extra-linguistic elements.
Then, the authors test Trudgill's version of salience in a new study
involving a dialect levelling across urban centers in England.  They
investigate teenage speech in three towns with different
characteristics.  Following the analysis of data derived from 32
adolescents from each town, Kerswill and Williams identify four groups
of variables; four vowels, four consonants, twelve non-standard
grammatical features and the focus marker ''like.''  Their
investigation reaches to the conclusion that salience cannot be
explained properly without considering extra-linguistic factors.
Moreover, according to them, salience is linked to internal and
extra-linguistic determinants. Kerswill and Williams, then, outline a
model to explain salience adequately, in which three components should
be taken into account: the presence of a linguistic phenomenon,
language internal explanations, and extra-linguistic cognitive,
pragmatic, interactional, social psychological, and sociodemographic

Chapter 5: Edith Esch: My Dad's auxiliaries (pp. 111-139).  This
chapter studies another example of levelling in France.  It
particularly focuses on the role of overt language planning in the
process of levelling.  Esch analyzes the use of auxiliaries ''être''
and ''avoir'' in her father's writing (diaries and letters) and
especially the set of unaccusative verbs which are traditionally used
''être.''  Following the analysis of the data, Esch argues that her
father was not using auxiliaries in line with the rules of the
standard French when he started writing his diaries.  That is, he was
using ''être'' as an auxiliary verb according to the rules of the
regional varieties of French.  However, he learned standard usage
(i.e., avoir as an auxiliary) at school and kept following the rules
of the standard French throughout his life.  Therefore, the school
system in France imposed levelling of ''être.''  Esch concludes that
''the effects of extra-linguistic factors [in this case the school
system] are long lasting, at least when they reinforce those of
language-external factors'' (p.133).

2. Convergence (143-240)

Chapter 6: Mari C. Jones: Mette a haout dauve la grippe des Anglaïs:
convergence on the Island of Guernsey (pp. 143-168).  In this chapter,
Jones examines a high contact situation between English and
Guernésiais on the Island of Guernsey in the English Channel.  Before
Second World War, Guernésiais and English were both used on the
island.  During the war, the majority of population of Guernsey was
temporarily relocated in England due to the possibility of German
invasion.  These people returned to the island after the war, most of
them, especially children, forgetting Guernésiais.  Then, the number
of Guernésiais speakers decreased suddenly and, in 1996, there
remained only 3000 speakers of the dialect on the island (5% of the
population).  This picture suggests a typical language death.
However, Jones asks whether there was convergence prior to the
apparent language obsolescence.  She demonstrates that English and
Guernésiais influenced each other bi-directionally in terms of
grammatical structure as if they were equal status languages.  This
fact implies that convergence occurred.  Yet, in terms of lexical
borrowings, the influence is unidirectional' from English to
Guernésiais.  The lexical evidences, therefore, suggest language
obsolescence.  Then, how can one explain this case?  Jones argues that
convergence did occur before the war when English and Guernésiais were
probably used ''in a state of diglossia with bilingualism'' (p. 163).
This convergence ceased by extra-linguistic (i.e., sociopolitical and
economic) factors that made English the prestigious language.  Jones
maintains that convergence prior to obsolescence could explain the
conflicting changes (e.g., structural and lexical) seen in the
varieties spoken on the island.

Chapter 7: David Holton: Modern Greek: towards a standard language or
a new diglossia? (pp. 169-179).  Holton examines the current state of
the Greek language, which underwent a major reform in 1976.  Before
1976, the Greeks experienced a diglossic situation, in which high form
and low form co-existed for a long time.  The high form was the
official language, called katharevousa, and used for all formal and
literary purposes whereas the low form, called demotic, was used for
oral communication.  In addition, there was a wide gap between two
varieties.  In 1976, the government replaced the high form with the
low form and demotic became the official language of Greece.
Previously, katharevousa had considerably influenced demotic in all
parts of grammar and it still does so Modern Standard Greek even
though it is not widely used any more.  Modern Greek grammar has many
features that cannot be explained without reference to katharevousa.
Holton asks whether Modern Standard Greek is an example of convergence
and argues that the Greek case cannot be considered a typical case of
convergence because ''the two languages involved are both forms of
Greek'' (p. 177).  In other words, Modern Standard Greek consists of
katharevousa and demotic, different varieties of the Greek, not two
different languages.  However, Holton further suggests that since some
grammatical features of Modern Standard Greek may not be explained
without reference to katharevousa, it is possible to think that there
was a kind of convergence between demotic and certain characteristics
of katharevousa.

Chapter 8: Laura Wright: Standard English and the lexicon: why so many
different spellings? (pp. 181-200).  This chapter investigates why
Standard English has many ways of spelling sounds.  Wright thinks that
this problem has its root at medieval time and tries to explain it by
discussing mixed-language trade records of late medieval Britain, when
economic goals forced merchants used a mixture of Anglo-Norman, Middle
English and Medieval Latin in their business writings.  Having
examined lexical, morphological and syntactic variation in these
writings, the author demonstrates that variable use of the rules of
three languages operated simultaneously and the text could be
interpreted as one of the three languages.  Yet, as Wright argues,
variation did not result with ''a lack of structure of free-for-all''
(p. 192).  The author demonstrates that merchants' records followed
three sets of governing rules, those of English, Medieval Latin and
the mixed variety of both.  Then, Wright argues that Modern English
has inherited so many different kinds of spelling from the
mixed-language business variety over following centuries.  In the
standardization process of spelling English sounds, this
contact-induced variety had a substantial influence on the plurality
of spelling.  Therefore, Modern Standard English spelling is an
outcome of convergence took place among three languages over

Chapter 9: Joseph Cremona: Latin and Arabic evolutionary processes:
some reflections (pp. 201-207).  The chapter compares Latin and Arabic
concerning their evolutionary processes in the development of the
modern Romance languages and Arabic dialects.  Cremona argues that the
modern Arabic dialects and Romance languages underwent remarkably
similar/parallel developments.  That is that both groups simplified
their grammars (e.g. loss of case endings for nouns and adjectives,
loss of mood distinction in the verb, and general increase of
analytical structures in the syntax).  The author also shows
similarities and dissimilarities of the evolution of the two
languages.  It does not seem that convergence is the case here.
However, Cremona maintains that, in the early history of expansion of
both languages, large numbers of different language speakers who had
to learn the ruling power's language (i.e. Latin and Arabic) selected
easier learning strategies when it was possible.  This practice lead
to the rise of analytical constructions in the descendants of both
languages.  The author argues that this change happened through
linguistic convergence.

Chapter 10: David Britain and Andrea Sudbury: There's sheep and
there's penguins: convergence, ''drift'' and ''slant'' in New Zealand
and Falkland Island English (pp. 209-240).  In this chapter, Britain
and Sudbury take a different approach to the issue of linguistic
convergence and examine why there is a lack of divergence between the
isolated English languages of New Zealand and Falkland Islands.  The
authors demonstrate that although these countries are far away from
each other, English varieties spoken in them are pretty much similar
concerning the use of singular verb from of 'to be' in existential
sentences followed by a plural noun.  Having examined existential
clauses from conversational data collected in those communities,
Britain and Sudbury show that both languages have resembling
grammatical constraints on the variable use of existential verb forms.
These societies demonstrate a grammatical parallelism, in which
singular verb forms of 'to be' are employed in existential clauses
preceding a plural noun.  New Zealand and Falkland Islands English
have originated from the same source and have diverged over a hundred
years of time.  Despite the linguistic, social and physical distances
between two countries, they have not diverged in the employment of 'to
be' in existential utterances.  Then, the authors ask whether this is
a 'drift.'  They examine the definitions of the term 'drift,' and
conclude that the parallel development in both countries could be
called as ''slant'' rather than ''drift'' as applied by Mulkiel
(1981).  Thus, the case in both societies under study could best be
explained as parallel developments or failure to drift rather than

3. Adaptive mechanisms (243-281)

Chapter 11: Ian Watson: Convergence in the brain: the leakiness of
bilinguals' sound systems (pp. 243-266).  Watson investigates how
bilingual speech processing differ from that of monolinguals.  In
order to explain the speech processing of bilinguals, Watson compares
two studies of primary bilinguals with one of secondary bilinguals.
The results of the comparison demonstrate that phonetic
representations of bilingual's two languages are functionally
separated.  Yet, there is a constant interference between two sound
systems in the brain because of their identification with similar
phonological units.  This cross-linguistic association between
elements alike affords a process in which representations of two
languages affect one another.  However, the process, not being
completely transfused, can co-exist with characteristics of sound
systems of both languages.  For the account of these possibilities,
Watson (p. 243) proposes a model and suggests that extra-linguistic
factors, or ''micro-sociolinguistic variables'' (age, country of
residence, degree of exposure to each language) determine when and how
internally induced contact phenomenon appear in bilinguals' speech.

Chapter 12: Margaret Deuchar and Marilyn May Vihman: Language contact
in early bilinguals: the special status of function words
(pp. 267-281).  The authors explore the hypothesis that ''content
words in early child language tend to match the language context
whereas function words do not'' (p. 268).  They analyze and compare
two word mixed utterances of two children (first aged through a year
and 3 months to 3 years and 3 months; second a year and 7 months to 2
years and 10 months) from the USA and England while developing
bilingualism.  Their data consists of a collection of 126 two-word
utterances produced by the first child and 66 two-word utterances
generated by the second child.  Their discussion results indicate that
early primary bilinguals use function and content words differently in
mixed utterances.  Moreover, bilingual children employ content words
in the specific language context, but function words in both language
contexts.  It seems that they treat content words as language specific
and function words as language neutral.  Deuchar and Vihman further
argue that this usage of function words in mixed contexts is temporary
since bilinguals continue developing morphological marking and
distinguishing their languages based on the situation.  The authors
further argue that these earliest acquired function words could be the
first category to initiate Matrix Language Frame change in bilingual

4. Code-copying (285-327)

Chapter 13: Lars Johanson: Contact-induced change in a code-copying
framework (pp. 285-313).  The author summarizes ''some reflections on
contact-induced language change as dealt with'' (p. 285) the present
volume.  He approaches to the description of language change with a
unified perspective, namely code-copying.  He illustrates how
phenomena usually referred to as borrowing, transfer, adaptation,
convergence, levelling, koinéization, shift etc. may be grouped under
his unified framework.  Code-copying always includes some kind of
effects on the structural characteristics of the basic code, which is
the language undergoing change.  It may be realized as global or
selective copying, structural accommodation and adaptation,
habitualization and conventionalization.  Johanson further discusses
code developments, frame-changing developments, code shift, substratum
effects and code death, codes as registers, code-internal and
extra-linguistic factors and the interplay of internal, external and
extra-linguistic factors in code-copying framework.

Chapter 14: Éva Ágnes Csató: Karaim: a high-copying language
(pp. 315-327). Csató examines a high-copying language, the Lithuanian
dialect of the Karaim language, a Kipchak Turkic vernacular spoken in
the Baltic region for the last six centuries.  This language is a
clear example of code-copying outlined by Johanson in the previous
chapter.  Karaim has always been dominated by Polish, Russian, and
Lithuanian, the regional standard languages since it belonged to a
small religious community.  Karaim speakers employed several types of
code-copying practices.  A high degree of convergence, imposition and
adoption considerably contributed the change of Karaim grammatical
structure.  Consequently, it became to exhibit how contact-induced
processes and a combination of factors alter


The editors make a worthy attempt to explain why and how languages
change.  They bring together 13 case studies in the present volume to
illustrate the process in which contact-induced language change
occurs. Chapters organized under four themes take one of three types
of contact-induced language change as their starting point.  This
categorization makes the volume easily readable.  Essays grouped under
''levelling'' examine the influence of internal and socio-economic and
political factors on the elimination of alternations between two
varieties.  The chapters under ''convergence'' investigate how
internal and extra-linguistic factors affect the change, particularly
take place at the morpho-syntactic level of the variety or
language. Two essays under ''adaptive mechanisms'' demonstrate how
bilingual speakers are able to face different grammars and language
contexts through very adaptive systems.  The last two essays under
''code-copying'' suggest how levelling, convergence and adaptive
mechanisms could be considered under the code-copying framework.  This
volume makes three important points: (1) Researchers should be aware
of the complexity of language change and this complexity should be
reflected in every attempt to explain any kind of language change as
illustrated by most of the chapters above. (2) ''Either-or''
mentality, language change is motivated either internally or
externally, is inadequate in the explanation of language change and
needs to be reconsidered.  In addition, extra-linguistic factors
should be taken into account.  (3) Internal, external and
extra-linguistic factors should be considered equally and none of them
should be assigned a lower position in terms of explaining language

While the collection of essays is both informative and interesting, it
is worth to consider a few weaknesses.  First, the chapter by Cremona
does not seem to fit in this volume.  While other chapters examine
some kind of contact-induced language change Cremona's essay compares
two unrelated but, to him, similar evolutionary processes of Romance
languages and Arabic dialects.  It is difficult to agree with
Cremona's argument that a kind of convergence, leading to the
emergence of Romance languages and Arabic dialects, happened between
Latin and Arabic and other people who had to learn these languages as
their ruler's language in some time in the history.  I think this
claim needs to be well documented.  Second point is about another
chapter categorized under convergence.  Holton argues that Standard
Modern Greek is an outcome of convergence between high variety and low
variety of the Greek language.  However, convergence should take place
between different languages.  In the case of Standard Modern Greek,
two varieties of the same language were in interaction to form the
modern standard variety.  Even though the present volume includes
these chapters, in my opinion, it is, as a contribution to the
sociology of language, definitely enriches our knowledge and
understanding of contact-induced language change.  Having covered a
variety of cases, it is highly recommendable to those who want to look
at and understand the process of contact-induced language change.


Hurriyet Gokdayi is an assistant professor of Turkish language and
linguistics at Mersin University, Turkey, where he teaches Turkish
syntax, grammar, and writing courses.  His research interests includes
ethnography of communication, formulaic expressions and language
change in Turkey.  He currently works on formulaic expressions.


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