Sarah G. Thomason
Language endangerment almost always involves language contact, but language contact does not always lead to endangerment: safe language contact features balanced bilingualism, and unsafe language contact features transitional bilingualism. In safe contact situations, neither of the languages in contact is likely to disappear unless and until the circumstances that make the situation safe change dramatically. In unsafe contact situations, by contrast, one of the languages is likely to disappear. Finally, attrition in endangered languages is compared with contact-induced change in non-endangered languages: individual changes do not differ significantly in the two processes, but only attrition leads to overall impoverishment of lexicon and structure.