Language merger

Language merger

Language merger, in linguistics, is a theoretical phenomenon whereby two or more distinct languages combine to form a single language. It is a controversial concept among linguists, who are divided over whether it represents an actual phenomenon, or merely a mistaken view of another process (e.g. language shift, language convergence). Even among those linguists who argue that language merger is a real phenomenon, it is nevertheless considered a monumentally rare occurrence. Language death, in the form of language murder or language suicide, are far more likely outcomes of language contact than a merger.

The term specifically refers to a natural, rather than synthetic, process.

Rumantsch Grischun, a standardized form of Romansh, was developed in 1982 by Heinrich Schmid. This language is in actual spoken use, becoming the standard language of all Rhaetian-speakers in Switzerland. However, as the result of artificial development by Schmid and his colleagues, it is not a product of language merger.

It has been proposed by some linguists that "actual" merger was the source of what would ultimately become the modern German language, arising as a homogenized dachsprache of several regional German dialects. This process, which took place over a period of several centuries, was neither truly natural nor truly artificial. What began as a formal language of the clergy and aristocracy developed progressively into an everyday spoken language, and has now nearly completely displaced the original dialectical forms of German. In most regions, there still exist parallel dialectical forms. However, these are rapidly dying out, and in some regions, such as Hamburg, local dialect is already practically indistinguishable from the standard language.

ee also

*Mixed language

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