Theorizing Language Contact: From Synchrony to Diachrony

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


‘Language contact’ is a metaphor that captures the use of multiple languages in the repertoire of individuals and communities, and the possible effects of multilingualism on the structural development of the languages involved. This chapter proposes that we must move away from the traditional metaphor of ‘contact’ as involving fully discrete, separate, and self-contained language systems, and instead to embrace a more holistic and usage-based view of the way bilinguals employ their communicative resources. It provides examples illustrating how users maintain a balance between them, providing snap-shots of synchronic use of language. ‘Angloromani’ is the term that is widely used in the scholarly literature to refer to the incorporation of a Romani-derived lexicon in the English varieties used by Romani Gypsies in Britain and North America. Domari, the Indo-Aryan language of the peripatetic Dom of the Middle East, has absorbed strong influences from the surrounding languages, in particular Arabic.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Handbook of Historical Linguistics, Volume II
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781118732168
ISBN (Print)9781118732212
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


  • Angloromani
  • Bilinguals
  • Domari
  • English varieties
  • Language contact
  • Multilingualism
  • Self-contained language systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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