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Proceedings of the 18th Rencontres Jeunes Chercheurs in Linguistics

Language contact: situations, representations, realizations

Paris, 11-12 juin 2015

Created in 1998, the Rencontres Jeunes Chercheurs (RJC) of the Doctoral School « Langage et langues » (ED 268, Sorbonne Nouvelle University - Paris 3) is an opportunity for junior researchers preparing for a Master's degree or a Doctorate, but also for post-doctorates, to present their work in paper or poster sessions.


Introduced by U. Weinreich (1953), the notion of ‘language contact’ has to do with any situation where two languages are simultaneously present, thus affecting an individual’s or a community’s linguistic behavior (Moreau, 1997). ‘Language contact’ is at the heart of both linguistic variation and linguistic change, in their diachronic and synchronic aspects. The phenomenon takes place in spaces the borders of which fluctuate depending on migrations, economic and cultural dynamics, or political policies (colonization, external cultural domination…). The 18th Rencontres Jeunes Chercheurs offer an opportunity to think about connections and interferences between languages on the one hand, and between varieties inside a given language on the other hand, both from a synchronic and from a diachronic perspective.

In recent years, an increasing number of research studies on ‘language contact’ have been led in a renewed methodological and epistemological frame of reference, based on variability awareness and on rooting linguistic data in materiality (Nicolai, 2007). These works are at opposite extremes from those conducted during the nineteenth century, since the latter dismissed the mere idea of ‘language contact’, in order to focus on language filiation instead (Tabouret-Keller, 1988). The conference addresses the issue of ‘language contact’ through three complementary notions: ‘situation’, ‘representation’ and ‘realization’.

Tackling ‘language contact’ implies observing and making an empirical description not only of institutional, social, professional and family circumstances, but also of language learning and language acquisition in plurilinguistic or diglossic contexts. In addition, ‘situation’ is deeply implanted in psycholinguistics as well: mastering several languages impacts brain structure and cognitive processes. The term should therefore be understood in a broader sense, as it can refer to both individual and collective levels of analysis. Regional languages and language choices made by multilingual writers are examples thereof.

Moreover, ‘language contact’ also takes part in the tension between language description and linguistic prescription. The conference will take into consideration the way speakers, as well as linguists and grammarians, build and convey social and metalinguistic representations of languages in contact, based on their own judgement. Studying ‘language contact’ is an invitation to discuss identity construction processes and to examine further notions such as ‘linguistic insecurity’ or ‘imagined communities’ (Anderson, 1983).

Realizations pertaining to language contact are many and diverse. They are indeed compound language productions, some of which may be viewed from a collective standpoint, like borrowings, or Creole and pidgin languages. Others are to be observed from an individual angle, for instance interferences (phonic, syntactic, lexical) caused, in part, by transfers between the various languages known to a multilingual speaker. To this framework belong ‘code switching’ and, in the field of acquisition and didactics, ‘interlanguage’.

The great variety of such realizations sheds new light on current language typologies. Similarly, new problems arise in the area of natural language processing, where multilingual corpora are giving birth to methodological issues that differ from those raised by monolingual corpora. Likewise, translation studies appear as a kind of language contact realization; as a matter of fact, translators have to deal with theoretical and practical difficulties regarding both languages brought into contact through translation and languages already in contact in the original texts (Ballard, 2006).

All of the mentioned theoretical approaches are likely to bring researchers in linguistics to discuss a shared topic, and allow them to reflect on this discipline’s status within the Humanities. Participants are encouraged to consider all means of language expression (oral, written, sign language).


Editorial committee

JORGE Muriel, PRADEAU Coraline, WOTTAWA Jane

Scientific committee

AGUILAR RIO José Ignacio, AMELOT Angélique, AUTHIER-REVUZ Jacqueline, BEACCO Jean-Claude, BEAUMATIN Eric, BEHR Irmtraud, BOULA de MAREUIL Philippe, BRUDERMANN Cédric, CHISS Jean-Louis, DE CHIARA Matteo, DEBAISIEUX Jeanne-Marie, DEMOLIN Didier, DERIVRY Martine, DOQUET Claire, FLEURY Serge, FOUGERON Cécile, FOURNIER Jean-Marie, GERDES Kim, GILE Daniel, GRINSHPUN Yana, HALEVY Olivier, HENRI Agnès, ISEL Frédéric, KAMIYAMA Takeki, KLINGLER Dominique, LACROIX René, LANCIA Leonardo, LEFEUVRE Florence, LEGUY Cécile, MOLINIE Muriel, MORGENSTERN Aliyah, MULLER Catherine, NAIM Samia, NARCY-COMBES Jean-Paul, PARUSSA Gabriella, PEPERKAMP Sharon, PILLOT-LOISEAU Claire, POZDNIAKOV Konstantin, PUECH Christian, QUINT Nicolas, REBOUL-TOURE Sandrine, RENAUD Patrick, RIDOUANE Rachid, SAMAIN Didier, SAVATOVSKY Dan, SPAËTH Valérie, STRATILAKI Sofia, TELLIER Isabelle, TESTENOIRE Pierre-Yves, VALENTINI Andrea, VERONIQUE George-Daniel, VON MÜNCHOW Patricia, WEBER Corinne, YAMAGUCHI Naomi, ZARATE Geneviève.