Trans Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 16. Nr. Februar 2006

1.5. Cultural Dynamism and Language Contact
Herausgeber | Editor | Éditeur: George Echu (University of Yaounde I)

Dokumentation | Documentation | Documentation

Report: Cultural Dynamism and Language Contact

George Echu (University of Yaounde I)


The section entitled "Cultural Dynamism and Language Contact" dwells on the premise that in spite of the negative consequences of language contact, this phenomenon is highly productive and innovative as it gives rise to new forms of expression, new idioms and new cultural realities. The papers presented by the different speakers share virtually the same linguistic preoccupations, given that they dwell on common themes in the area of language contact such as linguistic borrowing, loan translation, code switching, code mixing, interference and linguistic innovation within different socio-cultural contexts and language communities.

In the opening paper, George Echu highlights the situation of the French language in Cameroon today, a language that is undergoing pidginisation as observed through two distinct but related varieties of French: Cameroon Popular French and Camfranglais. Both varieties resort to extensive borrowing, reduplication, simplification at the morphological, lexical and syntactic level, and the use of indigenous language calques. Another paper that examines the French language in Cameroon is that presented by Bernard Mulo Farenkia on the issue of verbal politeness and culture contact as observed through forms of address in Cameroon French. From the speaker's point of view, these polite forms reveal the complex multilingual and multicultural language situation in Cameroon, characterized by innovative forms of address that contribute to language dynamism.

Ellie Boyadzhiva's paper entitled "Language Change and Social Practices - the Mirror Effect" considers borrowing as one of the main sources of language change. Her presentation focuses on the acceptability of recent anglicisms in Bulgarian, and how these anglicisms help to remodel the picture of the world in the minds of the Bulgarian users of English. Closely following this vision is the paper on "The Consequences of Using English as an International Means of Communication: Its Impact on other languages and Its Inner Change". Approaching the problematic from a Bulgarian point of view, Stanislava Kostadinova shows the influence that English and its new world culture exert on Bulgarian.

Another interesting contribution is that presented by Eva Eppler. Using a corpus drawn from the bilingual speech (English/German) of Viennese Jewish refugees living in London, the paper examines code-switches, borrowings, loan shifts and loan blends as productive and innovative processes that create new and subtle shades of cultural meaning.

The paper presented by Julia Epshtein on work ethics of the Russian worker as observed through language probes into the vocabulary and proverbs of the Russian language both through a minimalist and maximalist perspective.

A fascinating and original contribution on "Language Contact in the German-Austrian Language Island of Núcleo João Pinheiro (Brazil)" came from Christiane Pabst. This language island is inhabited by descendants of protestant immigrants from the cities of Hamburg, Stuttgart and Vienna. Thus the Austrian-German dialect used by these immigrants is influenced by Brazilian Portuguese, as evidenced from both linguistic and cultural interference.

The last paper of the panel presented by Ivanka Sakareva dwells on the external influences the Bulgarian language has undergone, especially as far as loanwords are concerned. The speaker observes that such loanwords are more often used to the detriment of Bulgarian words.

The conclusion to be drawn from the contributions and debate that followed is that while enriching language in several ways, the contact phenomenon contributes enormously to cultural dynamism.

© George Echu (University of Yaounde I)

1.5. Cultural Dynamism and Language Contact

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For quotation purposes:
George Echu (University of Yaounde I): Report: Cultural Dynamism and Language Contact. In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 16/2005. WWW:

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