(a) Providing the students with a basic view on the history and the complexity of bilingualism and multilingualism, the perceptions and attitudes formed towards them, the problems that may arise due to these situations as well as ways of overcoming them.
(b) Giving the students the opportunity as well as the skills needed in order to understand where, when and how language contact leads to linguistic change.
(c) Presenting the students how to recognize several mechanisms of contact-induced linguistic change, through examples from relevant bibliography or personal “Balkan” experience.
(d) Enabling the students to critically assess the “linguistic solutions” that were provided in the framework of the Balkan nation states and comprehend the theories that supported those specific choices of linguistic homogenization.
(e) Sensitizing the students on the dangers that so-called “small” languages face due to globalization and the phenomenon of “linguistic imperialism” that derives from it.
Course Content (Syllabus)
GLO398: Language Contact
The proper study of language contact faced a great development during the last decades, being aided and promoted by the broader development of Linguistics while simultaneously benefitting several subfields of the latter, such as Historical Linguistics and Sociolinguistics. As we broaden our field of research in space and time, we observe that, unlike what we might have imagined, bilingualism and multilingualism constitute a rather common situation in human societies. Multilingualism was addressed either as social good or an inevitable “evil”, depending on the era and the dominant perception regarding the phenomenon at the time. What are the reasons that led to such attitudes and how can this kind of issues be handled in organized societies through linguistic policy and planning? Under what conditions can multilingualism lead to linguistic interference and change? Which factors and mechanisms are responsible for contact-induced linguistic change? Are these changes always recognizable and predictable? Is there a widely accepted correlation scale between language contact and the changes that derive from it? Why in the Balkans, a special case of a linguistic area, language contact led to the creation of a Sprachbund and not to the appearance of a pidgin language? What do the terms linguistic death and linguistic ecology signify? Such topics are discussed in this course, using the Balkans as the main point of reference and the basic field of application.
Additional bibliography for study
U. Weinreich, Languages in Contact, The Hague: Mouton 1953, 1968.
S. Thomason, Language Contact, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh 2001.
Assenova, P. 2002. Балканско езикознание. Veliko Ternovo : Faber.
Sandfeld, Kr. 1930. Linguistique Balkanique (Problèmes et Résultats), Paris.
Tzitzilis, Chr. 2001. “Methodische Bemerkungen zu den Lehnübertragungen in den Balkansprachen”, Linguistique Balkanique XLI/1.