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Contacts de Langues : Analyses Plurifactorielles assistées par Ordinateur et Conséquences Typologiques – CLAPOTY

Submission summary

Contact linguistics is still little developed in France despite the fact that it is already a thriving area of research in Germany and in Anglophone countries. There are two broad lines of research. The first one, from a diachronic perspective, focuses on the description of the outcomes of contact and its impact on the languages involved. The other one takes a synchronic approach and explores the social and linguistic effects of on- going contact settings involving multilingualism and code alternation. Despite overlapping interests there is relatively little interaction and cross-fertilisation between these two lines of research. This is quite surprising since from the start, researchers have pointed out that language contact phenomena cannot be comprehensively understood without careful attention to both the micro and macro social aspects of the contact situation and careful analysis of the linguistic processes, inputs and outcomes. Both traditions have significantly advanced our knowledge about language contact. It now seems only timely to draw on these advances in an effort to create a unified field of research. The aim of the project CLAPOTY is to fruitfully integrate these two hitherto separate lines of research on language contact. The proposed team of researchers is well suited for this undertaking since we have complementary research experiences and agendas in the area of language contact and have successfully collaborated on related projects over the last couple of years. The project CLAPOTY consists of four parts: The first part involves devising a new analytical approach to analyzing the consequences of language contact. This analysis is based on a review of the literature and on an analysis of a common corpus based on primary language data collected by the researchers involved in the project. The corpus consists of a typologically diverse set of languages: Amerindian languages (Kali'na, Purepecha), English and French-lexified Creole languages, romance languages (French, Spanish), Slavic or Indo- Iranian languages (grec, na'ta, romani), Altaic language (Turkish), Sino-Tibetan and Austronesian languages (Mandarin Chinese, Minnan Chinese, Amis and Taroko). It also involves a range of different contact settings (contact between dialects of the same language, contact between lingua franca and ethnic languages, contact between different kinds of dominant languages) and contact outcomes (borrowing, calquing/transfer, code alternation, grammaticalization and variation in constituent ordering). The second part focuses on developing several computer-based tools for analysing multilingual and linguistically heterogeneous language corpora. It will facilitate identifying zones of grammatical instability that are particularly susceptible or resistant to contact-induced change. These tools and an annotated corpus illustrating outcomes of contact-induced change will be made available to the academic community together with proposals for analysing these data in the form of an interactive website. The third part is dedicated to testing the analytical model based on an analysis of how constituent ordering is affected by contact. The fourth part assesses the implications for existing typologies (Thomason & Kaufman, 1988, Winford, 2003, Heine & Kuteva, 2005) and proposes a new typology of contact settings and contact outcomes. Two important aims of the project are to evaluate the role of structural characteristics of languages and the role of socio-historical factors in conditioning the outcomes of contact-induced change by assessing existing typologies in the light of the analysis of our own data. By developing a unified and multi-factorial analytical approach to language contact, we aim to contribute to the development and greater visibility of language contact studies in general and in France in particular. Moreover, this research will significantly advance current knowledge in the area of corpus linguistics, computer linguistics and typological linguistics.

Project coordinator

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


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Beginning and duration of the scientific project: - 0 Months

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