Contact Languages: Ecology and Evolution in Asia by Umberto Ansaldo

spacestationtrustfund's review

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Originally read for work, but highly recommended. Ansaldo's argument is essentially in support of the idea that contact-based language formation is not only as natural as academic language acquisition but is indeed the standard methodology through which linguistic evolution takes place. This is kind of a "duh" argument in many ways, but you'd be surprised at how reluctant to accept this idea many otherwise knowledgeable figures can be. Ansaldo describes artificial language acquisition as "monolingual acquisition under normative pressure," which is just a delightful way to phrase it. The line between a language, a créole, a pidgin, and a dialect is a well-muddied one, and it's unlikely to run clear any time soon, but Ansaldo's points about the direct political implications of suppression of contact-based linguistic evolution are excellent.