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Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. This book is a comprehensive introduction to the study of language contact and its outcomes, as well as the social and linguistic factors involved.

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Provides a comprehensive introduction to the field of contact linguistics. Examines a wide range of language contact phenomena from both general linguistic and sociolinguistic perspectives. Offers an account of current approaches This book is a comprehensive introduction to the study of language contact and its outcomes, as well as the social and linguistic factors involved. Offers an account of current approaches to all of the major types of contact-induced change.

Discusses the general processes and principles that are at work in cases of contact. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title. Other Editions 3. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

The Relationship Between Language and Society - Linguistics

To ask other readers questions about An Introduction to Contact Linguistics , please sign up. See 1 question about An Introduction to Contact Linguistics…. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. All Languages. More filters. Sort order. All these are transmitted from one generation to another through a process known as enculturation. People who identify themselves as members of a social group professional or ethnic affiliation, nation, etc. This is a view of culture that focuses on the ways of thinking, behaving and valuing currently shared by the members of the same social community.

There is also another way of viewing culture — one which takes a more historical perspective. For the cultural ways which can be identified at any one time have evolved and become solidified over time, which is why they are so often taken for natural behavior.

An Introduction to Contact Linguistics by Donald Winford (Hardback, 2002)

The culture of everyday practices draws on the culture of shared history and traditions. This diachronic view of culture focuses on the way in which a social group represents itself and others through its material productions over time — its technological achievements, its monuments, its works of art, popular culture — that punctuate the development of its historical identity. Whereas language is not a culture in this sense — it is a free code, distinct from the way people think and behave, though it plays a major role in the perpetuation of culture, practically in its printed form.

An interesting view of the subject may be found in the manual by R. He traces the emergence of a new way of thinking about culture and society in general. But this later use, which had usually been a culture of something, was changed in the 19th century to culture as such, a thing in itself. Thus we define culture as a certain membership in a discourse community that shares a common social space and history. Even when they have left that community, its members may retain, wherever they are, a common system of standards for perceiving, believing, evaluating and acting.

Thus there is no strictly defined term for the concept of culture. We can only be certain that our cultures and societies are constantly in the process of transition of change and that this change is to a large extent connected with the notion of culture. The statement indicates that there is an obvious link between language the one uses and culture the one belongs to.

Though, according to a well-known linguist Claire Kramsch, the relationship of language and culture in linguistics is one of the most hotly debated issues at present time [Kramsch 79]. We may amplify these words and try to apply them to the notions of cross-, multi- and interculturalism, which are although closely connected with the language and culture evidently do not have precise definition of their own.

Depending on how culture is viewed and which discipline one comes from, various explanations of the above mentioned terms are used to refer to communication between people who do not share the same nationality, social or ethnic origin, gender, age, occupation. Anyway, both terms are used to characterize communication, say, between Chinese-Americans and African-Americans, between working-class and upper- class people, between men and women.

Intercultural cooperation refers to the dialogue between minority cultures and dominant cultures, and is associated with issues of bilingualism and biculturalism. Thus knowing the culture does not mean that one has an obligation to behave in accordance with its conventions. Hence biculturalism assumes that an individual identifies with and accepts the beliefs, values, and practices of particular culture, whereas interculturalism assumes a knowledge of rather than acceptance of another culture. In becoming bicultural an individual would seek to acquire cultural pragmatic rules.

In the case of interculturalism, on the other hand, an individual would seek only to gain knowledge of these rules.


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To acquire an international language clearly does not require biculturalism. In an individual sense, it characterizes persons who belong to various discourse communities, and who therefore have the linguistic resources and social strategies to affiliate and identify with many different cultures and ways of using language. The cultural identity of multicultural individuals is not that of multiple native speakers, but, rather, it is made of a multiplicity of social roles which they occupy selectively, depending on the interactional context in which they find themselves at the time.

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However, as C. We have already specified that members of the community as representatives of some definite culture share sets of beliefs, political or ethical, they share to a large extent the way they construe the world, how they classify objective phenomena, what meaning they give to this classification. Communities share a common history and agree about what is or is not important to them, a common value system.

All these things are their culture. What is the connection between language and culture? Is it always and necessarily the case that languages and cultures go together? May communities with different cultures use the same language?


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  • Or may a culturally homogeneous community use different languages? Historically speaking, it seems to be the case that when two groups of what was a single cultural community lose physical, economic and political contact with each other they begin to diverge [Corder ]. On the other hand, when two culturally different communities come into contact and develop common economic and political systems there appear to be several different things that can happen. They may eventually merge, they may remain culturally distinct whilst being politically and economically a unit.

    Their languages may coalesce, one may supersede the other, or they may both continue side by side suffering some degree of mutual influence [Weinreich 25]. Unity of language is the most figurative of all unities, whether it be historical, geographical, national or personal. But what is the relation between them? Before suggesting an answer to this question we should note one important fact: it is largely, though not exclusively, through the language of the community that the child acquires the attitudes, values and ways of behaving that we call its culture.

    Learning these is the process of socialization and is principally carried out through language, first in the home, later in the school and in the life of the community at large.

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    Language mediates between the individual and the culture. But to do this successfully it must possess certain specific properties which qualify it for this task. For example, it must have codifiability, an economical and easily learned way of referring to objects and events which that culture classifies together or regards as useful or important.

    To take a specific example, if it is regarded as socially valuable, important for the maintenance of social structure, then the language of that community will encode that information in an economical and readily memorizable form, e.

    An Introduction to Contact Linguistics

    In this sense the language of a community will reflect the culture, and serve the needs of that community by making it easy for it to realize distinctions where these are important and useful, whilst disregarding distinctions where they are not important or socially relevant. If, then, languages do reflect cultures, it is easy to see that where there are cultural differences between communities these will be reflected in differences in their linguistic systems.

    So far we have been considering the relations between a language, an individual and a culture. Language is central to social interaction in every society, regardless of location and time period. Language and social interaction have a reciprocal relationship: language shapes social interactions and social interactions shape language. Sociolinguistics is the study of the connection between language and society and the way people use language in different social situations. It asks the question, "How does language affect the social nature of human beings, and how does social interaction shape language?

    The basic premise of sociolinguistics is that language is variable and ever-changing. As a result, language is not uniform or constant.