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Academic Paper


Title: Colonial dialect contact in the history of European languages: On the irrelevance of identity to new-dialect formation
Author: Peter Trudgill
Institution: Universitet i Agder
Linguistic Field: Linguistic Theories; Sociolinguistics
Abstract: It is often supposed that dialect contact and dialect mixture were involved in the development of new colonial varieties of European languages, such as Brazilian Portuguese, Canadian French, and Australian English. However, while no one has denied that dialect contact took place, the role of dialect mixture has been disputed. Among those who do not accept a role for it, some have also considered the role of identity, especially new national identities, to be self-evident. This article argues for the role of dialect mixture and against the role of identity. It presents case studies from pre-16th-century colonial expansions of European languages, an era when any role for national identities would be very hard to argue for. Instead, it suggests that dialect mixture is the inevitable result of dialect contact, and that the mechanism which accounts for this is quasi-automatic accommodation in face-to-face interaction.

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This article appears IN Language in Society Vol. 37, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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