Workshop: Languages and Cultures in Contact

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sat May 26 13:57:37 UTC 2007

Languages and Cultures in Contact
Short Title: CIL18

Date: 21-Jul-2008 - 26-Jul-2008
Location: Seoul, Korea, South
Contact: Barbara Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk
Contact Email:
Meeting URL:

Meeting Description:

Languages and Cultures in Contact is one of the workshops of the 18th
International Congress of Linguists, to be held in Seoul in July 2008.
Research on contact-induced change tends to concentrate on long term
structural effects (phonology and syntax) arising under conditions of three

Contact involving:
- lexical borrowing and borrowing of grammatical morphemes
-transfer of structural features without grammatical morphemes
-no interference e.g. some cases of language attrition and language death.

Semantics and pragmatics, while not entirely left out, are definitely given
short shrift.

Although mainstream work focuses on outcomes at the level of language, one
assumption adopted is that the site of contact is the bilingual speaker as
representing a bilingual speech community (e.g. Milroy 1992). The role of
external borrowing on language change has long been much debated. Only
recently, attempts have been made at systematically comparing the borrowing
behavior of typologically different languages with respect to lexical and
grammatical borrowing (see Haspelmath 2003). Already first studies show the
complexity of the factors involved, such as social contact situation, the
typological features of the languages involved, attitudes of speakers
towards borrowing, but also the previous history of language contact all
contribute to the type and amount of material from the source language
entering into the
target language.

Another often neglected field is the fate of both the word and the related
concept, entering the recipient language. In many cases, not only the
word is subject to subsequent changes and the long-term result is the
outcome of
many competing renditions of the source word, but also the concept itself
referred to by the loanword may undergo significant adaptation to the new
cultural context (Lackner et al. 2001). The processes involved gain an
additional dimension in the case of languages with non-alphabetic writing
systems, where the characters nearly inevitably carry a semantic load,
where, as
in hieroglyphs, the new object can be depicted in the loanword, or graphic
elements help attributing the new word to a specific semantic domain.

Globalization, mass-scale adoption of IT gadgetry, increasing reliance on
languages of wider communication and the rise in the density, scope and
speed of
communication, all combine to make available large amounts of authentic
data that can be studied with respect i.a. to contact-related processes and
outcomes in ways that were not available before (e.g. corpus linguistics
and that promise to provide deeper insight into the nature of those
and outcomes.

Topics that deserve (fresh) consideration and will be the focus of the

- the bilingual speaker/community as the locus of contact-induced change,

- the relationship between internally versus externally motivated change,

- text/discourse level effects,

- the semantics and pragmatics of contact-induced change,

- the differences between contact through written or spoken language and the

influence of writing systems on types of borrowing,

- the retention and loss of borrowed material,

- the possibilities to distinguish between intensive borrowing and genetic
relationship or to determine the direction of borrowing
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