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Recent developments in contact linguistics suggest considerable overlap of branches such as historical linguistics, variationist sociolinguistics, pidgin/creole linguistics, language acquisition, etc. This book highlights the complexity of contact-induced language change throughout the history of English by bringing together cutting-edge research from these fields. Special focus is on recent debates surrounding substratal influence in earlier forms of English (particularly Celtic influence in Old English), on language shift processes (the formation of Irish and overseas varieties) but also on dialects in contact, the contact origins of Standard English, the notion of new epicentres in World English, the role of children and adults in language change as well as transfer and language learning. With contributions from leading experts, the book offers fresh and exciting perspectives for research and is at the same time an up-to-date overview of the state of the art in the respective fields.
This is the first ever volume to compile sociolinguistic and historical information on lesser-known, and relatively ignored, native varieties of English around the world. Exploring areas as diverse as the Pacific, South America, the South Atlantic and West Africa, it shows how these varieties are as much part of the big picture as major varieties and that their analysis is essential for addressing some truly important issues in linguistic theory, such as dialect obsolescence and death, language birth, dialect typology and genetic classification, patterns of diffusion and transplantation and contact-induced language change. It also shows how close interwoven fields such as social history, contact linguistics and variationist sociolinguistics are in accounting for their formation and maintenance, providing a thorough description of the lesser-known varieties of English and their relevance for language spread and change.
Letter Writing and Language Change outlines the historical sociolinguistic value of letter analysis, both in theory and practice. The chapters in this volume make use of insights from all three 'Waves of Variation Studies', and many of them, either implicitly or explicitly, look at specific aspects of the language of the letter writers in an effort to discover how those writers position themselves and how they attempt, consciously or unconsciously, to construct social identities. The letters are largely from people in the lower strata of social structure, either to addressees of the same social status or of a higher status. In this sense the question of the use of 'standard' and/or 'nonstandard' varieties of English is in the forefront of the contributors' interest. Ultimately, the studies challenge the assumption that there is only one 'legitimate' and homogenous form of English or of any other language.
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