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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

A major reason for language endangerment is intensive contact with another group whose language has gained, or is gaining, greater political, social and economic prestige and advantages. Speakers of an endangered language will gradually lose the capacity to fully communicate in the language, and fully understand it. As a consequence, an endangered language will gradually become obsolescent. The process of language obsolescence ultimately leads to language shift and language loss. The impact of the increasingly dominant language onto an endangered language tends to involve a massive influx of non-native forms from the dominant language; a high amount of structural diffusion; reinforcement of forms and patterns shared with the dominant language; and the loss of forms or patterns absent from the dominant language. Language endangerment and impending language shift may result in dialect leveling, and creating new mixed, or ‘blended’ languages. A major difference between contact-induced language change in ‘healthy’ and in endangered languages lies in the speed of change. A high degree of individual variation between speakers and disintegration of language communities result in the lack of continuity and stability of linguistic change.

Keywords: borrowing, endangerment, obsolescence, merged dialect, blended language, negative borrowing

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