Language Contact
presented by
Michael L. Friesner
August 6, 2007
Thank you to Gillian Sankoff for sending me her PPT slides (among other things).
Two Main Types of
Language Contact

Agent: Nonnative speakers affecting a language
they come to speak
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Agent: Native speakers adopting nonnative features
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“language shift”
interference (or sometimes “imposition”)
L2 effects
“language contact through maintenance”
borrowing
influence on L1
(Third type: Extreme Contact = Formation of Contact
Languages—pidgins and creoles)
The Data I’m Using to
Demonstrate

2004-2005: A Sociolinguistic Study of
Northeast Philadelphia (Friesner, Dinkin, and
Wallenberg)

Speakers = native Russian and English
speakers in Northeast Philadelphia
2006-2008:
The Outcomes of Borrowing in
Montréal (Friesner)
Speakers
= native French and Spanish
speakers in Montréal (mostly in French)
1993:
The L2 Corpus of Anglo-Montrealers
(Sankoff et al.)
Speakers
= bilingual native English and
French speakers in Montréal (in both
Reasons for Languages to Be in
Contact
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war/conquest
colonialism
slavery
forced migration
but also...
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voluntary migration
intermarriage
trade
often (always?) results in social inequality between
language groups...
Influence of Contact on
Society

Stable bilingualism (usually a lot of
borrowing, esp. into less dominant
language)
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India, Québec, Belgium, large parts of Africa
Language shift
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immigrant communities, communities that end
up in a different country because of
conquest/border changes
Influence on Language

Interference (L2 effects)
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most frequently affects structure: syntax, phonology
(“accent”), word choices (“interlingual identifications”)
may only be features of nonnative speakers, but in high
contact situations may be incorporated into the
language as a whole (e.g., Irish pronunciation and
structures in Irish English)
bilingual communities also often code-switch
Borrowing (influence on L1)
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most frequently affects lexicon
some words may only be used by those who master
both languages, while others may be used by the
community as a whole
especially used to express concepts that were
introduced through cultural contact (tons of these in
English: taco, lo mein, matzah ball, spaghetti)
Interference: Vincent, Age 24
(1993)
What is Vincent saying?
I work(ed) uh three summer(s) in uh Bitumar -asphált prodúcts
Interference: Marina, Age 25 (2004)
(Did you fight with anyone here?)
a Of course, my neighbor from upstairs.
b He hates my guts.
c He called cops* on me three times.
(Is that the same one with the-- uh-- trash, or a different-- ?)
d Uh-huh! He hates me. Oh he hates me!
(So, when else di- when else did he call the cops on you?)
f Um-- he called once
g and he said that I was throwing the-- uh-- the cooking,
um-- what is it called, the cooking, um-(oil, or the-- ? no--)
______
* Examples of lexical or structural infelicities are in red
Interference: Marina, Age 25 (2004)
h The plita, uh-(the- the oven???)
Yeah. Like that oven, look at it.
i The whole oven. The whole thing!
j --that I was throwin’ it out of the window,
k actually, I threw it out-- threw it out of the window!
l You know what was my question?
m Not that I didn’t do it.
n You know what was the first thing I said?
o “How did I picked it up?” {laugh}
p I mean, it’s the size of me, the damn thing!
q I mean, it takes some moron to come up with something like
that.
Interference: Marina, Age 25 (2004)
r Like, how much can you hate me to come up with
something stupid like that?
(But, it was-- there was no basis for-- where did he get that idea?)
s He was just-- he’s a very lonely man.
t He’s uh-- he’s a-- he likes-[note: CODE SWITCH to Russian, a language spoken by interviewer
M.F., to describe the neighbor in very unflattering terms]
u He’s about fifty-five or sixty.
v He’s very lonely.
w He lives in a very, very small space.
x And, you know, he uses drugs,
y he doesn’t work,
z he says all the time that his back hurts,
aa and he lives on the welfare and stuff--
Borrowing
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What constitutes a borrowing
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e.g., are expressions like “Hasta la vista” and “déjà vu”
part of the English language, or not?
How do words change pronunciation when they are
borrowed into another language? “Clara”
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Phonological adaptation (Spanish r -> English r) “Clara”
Phonetic adaptation (Spanish r -> English d/t)
“Clodda”/”Clotta”
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Importation of nonnative segments (Spanish r ->
Spanish r (in English)) (pronounced as in Spanish)
What factors affect pronunciation & use of loanwords?
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language internal factors (difficulty of the sound,
distance between the two languages, type of word)
external factors (degree of bilingualism of individual and
community, style, age, social class, attitudes)
orthography(=spelling)
Loanwords in French
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Variables in adaptation:
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/r/ (posterior [R], retroflex [r], (or apical))
/h/ (present or absent in loanword)
“hip-hop” / “rap”
h
h
r
Michèle, 22, grad student, int. Eng.
Ø
Ø
R
Nathalie, 32, adv. deg., int. Eng., teacher
h
h
r
Murielle, 24, grad student, int. Eng.
h
h
R
Nathan, 34, univ., low Eng., job placer
Ø
Ø
r
Mélanie, 24, comm. coll., low Eng., baker
h
Ø
r
Variable: Gender Assignment (ex. =
“sandwich”)
Un club-sandwich, puis un sandwich au smoked meat, ça, c’est
vraiment différent...
(Michèle, 22, univ. +, grad student, int.
Eng.)
‘A club sandwich and a smoked meat sandwich, those are really different...’
Euh- club-sandwich, c’est- um- c’est un sandwich, trois étages, au
poulet- euh- tomates, laitue- euh- puis c’est à peu près ça...
(Daniel, 24, univ. +, grad. student, fluent Eng.)
‘A club sandwich is a sandwich with three levels, with chicken, tomatoes, lettuce,
and that’s about it...’
La sandwich au smoked meat, c’est typiquement montréalais, ça, le
smoked meat, euh- c’est un- disons, c’est une sandwich juste avec
deux tranches de pain...
(François, 29, adv. deg., engineer, fluent
Eng.)
‘A smoked meat sandwich is typical of Montreal, smoked meat, and it’s- um- a
sandwich with just two slices of bread.’
Et une sandwich au smoked meat, c’est une sandwich avec de la
viande fumée, donc c’est totalement différent, c’est- euh- c’est une
sandwich ordinaire mais avec de la viande fumée à l’intérieur.
(Nicolas, 24, Grade 11, bartender, int. Eng.)
Borrowing by social class and Level of
English (examples with proper names,
comparing English and French
pronunciations)
“Harper will choose this man” ~ “Harper revoit son cabinet”
(‘Harper reexamines his cabinet’)
“Minister Rona Ambrose” ~ “La ministre Rona Ambrose” (=)
Mireille, 47, Grade 8, bar employee, very little English
Nicolas, 24, Grade 11, bartender, intermediate English
Chantal, 24, univ. +, medical student, low int. English
Daniel, 24, univ. +, graduate student, fluent English
Borrowing = community norms
<ll> (also orthography)
Ben, il fait des ceviches, des- euh- des
paellas.
(Laura, 24, child of Uruguayan immigrants)
‘Well, he makes ceviches, and- uh- paellas.’
...entre unos tres puen- tres punto doce- dos
millones de Montreale(n)ses...
(Laura in Spanish reading passage)
‘...among the approximately 3.2 million Montrealers...’
Ben, les paellas sont- sont bonnes.
(Domingo, 25, Mexican, immigrated at age 21)
‘Well, the paellas are- are good.’
The pronunciation of borrowings is subject to
style shifting (examples from Domingo)
LIST STYLE (most formal):
Uh- burrito, enchilada et fajitas.
READING STYLE:
On aime s’y réchauffer en dégustant des fajitas, un molé typiquement
mexicain, des enchiladas tierra blanca, des burritos ou même des
crevettes sautées à la tequila.
‘People like warming up there while tasting fajitas, a typically Mexican mole,
enchiladas tierra blanca, burritos, or even tequila-sauteed shrimp.’
SPEAKING STYLE:
Mais, c’est quoi, la différence? Uh- les burritos et la fa- les fajitas, c’est
pas de la bouffe mexicaine, c’est de la bouffe du sud des É- des
États-Unis...
‘But, what’s the difference? Uh- burritos and fajitas are not Mexican food, they’re
food from the southern United States...’
Je pense que la différence entre le burrito puis la enchilada, c’est qu’il y
a pas de sauce sur les burritos.
‘I think that the difference between a burrito and an enchilada is that there’s no
There may be variation according to age
in both loanword pronunciation and which
loanwords are used (e.g., “hovercraft”)
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Murielle, age 24 - “J’avais jamais vu le mot hovercraft.”
I’ve never seen the word hovercraft before.
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Nathalie, age 32 - “Hovercraft, je connais pas.”
Hovercraft, I don’t know it.
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Sébastien, age 37 - “Hovercraft- c’est la première fois que je vois ce
mot-là.”
Hovercraft- this is the first time I’ve seen this word.
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Alice, age 53 - “Hovercraft - aéroglisseur, c’est la même chosemême, même, même, même chose.”
Hovercraft - aéroglisseur, it’s the same thing- the same exact thing.
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Maryse, age 58 - “Hovercraft - aéroglisseur, pour moi c’est la même
chose. Au début quand j’en ai entendu parler de l’aéroglisseur, on
l’appelait l’hovercraft, mais voilà.”
Hovercraft - aéroglisseur, for me it’s the same thing. Early on when I heard
Language attitudes may affect
pronunciation and can be gleaned from
interviews
Comments on which language is necessary for a job by two bilingual
speakers:
Daniel, age 24
C’est assez facile d’avoir une job si tu parles juste français; c’est assez
tough d’avoir une job si tu parles juste anglais. Uh- c’est ça, c’est
toujours un atout de parler en anglais, euh- mais c’est pas- c’est pasc’est pas si nécessaire que ça quand même.
‘It’s pretty easy to get a job if you speak only French; it’s pretty tough to
get a job if you speak only English. Uh- that’s right, it’s always an
asset to speak in English, but it’s not all that necessary anyway.’
Philippe, age 26
Je trouve que ça devient de plus en plus dur de parler français à
Montréal...
‘I find that it’s becoming harder and harder to speak French in
Montreal...’
Quelqu’un qui parle pas un mot d’anglais trouvera jamais une job.
‘Someone who doesn’t speak a word of English will never find a job.’
So, in English...
Some cases of variation in adaptation
patterns:
 /x/: Chanukah / Bach / Loch Ness
 bruschetta (/sk/ vs. /∫/)
 stress differences (U.S. garáge vs. Brit.
gárage)
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Language Contact - University of Pennsylvania