The beauty (and use) of the study of language contacts


The article clarifies the importance of contact linguistics in the Estonian context. It is argued that the current sociolinguistic situation is highly relevant for a general contact linguistic research (small size of the country, different linguistic communities, post-Soviet changes in language policies and, subsequently, bilingualization of Russian-speakers, and arrival of English as a new agent on the contact scene). Two recent contact-induced language change models are introduced and compared: the code-copying framework by L. Johanson and the PAT- and MAT-replication model by J. Matras and J. Sakel. The former has been used in the Estonian situation by several researchers. The models share several common features: a holistic, non-constrained approach to language contact phenomena, the same mechanisms (copying/replication) for all language levels (rather than separate models for code-switching and morhposyntactic changes). The latter model is more concerned with functional and cognitive reasons of replication, placing the major site of change into individual speakers. At a descriptive level, Johanson’s code-copying framework appears more accurate since a category of mixed copying is introduced there. Data from Russian-Estonian and English-Estonian language contacts support the relevance of mixed copying.


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