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BA Linguistics and Chinese / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Language Contact

Unit code LELA30291
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Linguistics & English Language
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This module provides an introduction to the study of language contact both as a process (the processing of different languages by multilingual individuals) and as a result (observed language change over time as a result of multilingual language use). Both aspects will be discussed on the basis of a range of case studies involving languages from around the world and different scenarios of multilingualism.


At least one unit out of:
  • LELA20021 Theory of Grammar;
  • LELA20101 Societal Multilingualism;
  • LELA20031 Typology;
  • LELA20502 Variationist Sociolinguistics; 
  • LELA20401 The changing structure of English;
  • LELA20042 Meaning in Grammar;
  • LELA20962 Psycholinguistics–or comparable


Students will:
  • obtain an overview of processes of historical language change
  • obtain an overview of the formation of new languages due to language contact
  • obtain an overview of the relation between the above and multilingual language use
  • critically reflect on the concept of “language” as a delimited system,
  • learn to analyse relevant aspects of the pho nology, grammar and semantics of a range of languages, including non-European ones

Knowledge and understanding

  • understand the role of some key conceptual notions in language contact such as “borrowing”, “code-switching”, and “creole genesis”
  • link historical processes of contact-induced change to the processing of multiple languages by multilingual speakers
  • apply these concepts to data from familiar and unfamiliar languages

Intellectual skills

  • identifying key points in published research papers on different subtopics
  • critical evaluation of the evidence and sources of data underlying theoretical claims
  • identifying conceptual links between synchronic and diachronic phenomena

Practical skills

  • analysis of multilingual conversations
  • use of glosses and translations to analyse structures of unfamiliar languages

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • confidence in discussion and argumentation
  • providing explicit evidence and precise argumentation in written work
  • increased appreciation of linguistic and cultural diversity

Employability skills

The course will have particular benefits for any student interested in pursuing a career which involves teaching and learning, diversity management, intercultural communication and community cohesion. The course will also provide key skills in critical analysis, dissemination of information to specialist (but non-academic) audiences and therefore be of value for a range of career paths. The course content encourages students to critically reflect upon the world outside the university thereby providing confidence to use academic research in a variety of settings.

Assessment methods

Discussion board contribution 20%
Annotated Bibliography for Essay 10%
Essay 70%


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

feedback on contributions to discussion board


formative and summative

feedback during seminars



written feedback via Turnitin on outline of main assignment

fortmative and summative

written feedback via Turnitin on main assignment



additional one-to-one feedback during consultation hours



Recommended reading

  • Bhatia, Tej K. & William C. Ritchie (eds.), The Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism, Second Edition. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Hickey, Raymond (ed.), The Handbook of Language Contact. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Matras, Yaron. 2009. Language contact. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Winford, Donald. 2003. An introduction to contact linguistics. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Wei, Li. ed. 2000. The bilingualism reader. London: Routledge.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 168

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Eva Schultze-Berndt Unit coordinator

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