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CONTACTS — Result In Brief

Project ID: 230310
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Netherlands

The link between language contact in multilingual settings and historical linguistics

An EU initiative explored language contact to advance the state of the art in the historical linguistics domain.
The link between language contact in multilingual settings and historical linguistics
The EU-funded CONTACTS (Traces of contact: Language contact studies and historical linguistics) project set out to establish criteria whereby outcomes from language contact studies can be exploited to further support the field of historical linguistics.

The CONTACTS team focused on five components overall: deep time South America; multilingual development of Suriname; heritage languages in multilingual Netherlands; multilingual processing and convergence; and digitisation and computational modelling.

To achieve its objectives, CONTACTS applied a scenario-based model for language contact studies to several real-life settings that vary considerably in their level of aggregation and time depth. These mainly consist of the languages of the Amazonian fringe in South America, the complex multilingual setting of the Republic of Suriname, the multilingual interaction of immigrant groups in the Netherlands and two groups of multilingual individuals. By applying the scenario-based model in various aggregation levels, researchers were able to establish a stronger link between language contact studies and historical linguistics.

Project partners used new structural phylogenetics techniques, and the same linguistic variables such as tense-modality-aspect and evidentiality marking and argument realisation were examined in all research work. To gather and compare data, they also used a shared questionnaire and shared visual stimuli in elicitation experiments.

Thanks to CONTACTS, all five components generated notable findings, which resulted in meaningful synergies between these different elements. What is more, the relationship between language contact and historical linguistics is clearer than ever before.

Related information


Language contact, multilingual, historical linguistics, CONTACTS
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