Assessing the role of contact in the history of English

Raymond Hickey

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of English

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199922765
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Assessing the role of contact in the history of English

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  • Linguistics
  • Historical and Diachronic Linguistics



Language contact has long been the subject of extensive research in linguistics, but has recently been the object of increased attention by scholars working on both the history of English and varieties of English worldwide. Most language contact studies that have appeared in recent years rely on databases that differ from those typically used in histories of the English language. Assuming that code-switching refers to instances where bilingual speakers alternate between codes within the same speech event, this process can be hypothesized to be the source of borrowing when the code-switching occurs repeatedly with the same lexical items or sentence structures such that these are no longer felt to be foreign in the receiving code. Both the degree of bilingualism necessary for code-switching and the number of individuals who engage in code-switching are a matter of debate. This article discusses language contact, language ecology, and grammaticalization.

Keywords: language contact; linguistics; history; English; code-switching; borrowing; bilingualism; language ecology; grammaticalization

Article.  4807 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Historical and Diachronic Linguistics

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