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Meanderings Around the Notion of ‘Contact’ in Reference to Languages, their Dynamics, and to ‘WE

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This paper is a linguistic, anthropological and philosophical exploration of language, with particular focus on language contact. The goal is not to address linguistic phenomena from a descriptive perspective, in the classical sense of the term, nor as if they were a “given”, and nothing further. Nor is the goal to craft a model. Instead it is an attempt to account for all relevant elements which (empirically) come into play in ordinary language use, considering them both in terms of language dynamics and in terms of language usage; this necessarily entails taking into consideration our own practices, as actors of communication and as builders of knowledge. We are ever stakeholders in this play (and its plays) because we are the ones who identify and/or attribute relevance.In other words, this text is a reflection on the (our) frameworks established through communication practices (frameworks which naturally have an impact on the form of our tools, including languages!) It highlights that the objectivization of phenomena which underlies our practices (whether academic or not) is closely dependent on the means by which we grasp the phenomena—this is nothing new but is worth noting afresh.Methodologically speaking, observing this point is an essential element in the elaboration of a theory to account for how phenomena are empirically grasped, and more particularly what it entails in the field of ‘language contact’.

Affiliations: 1: Institut Universitaire de France Laboratoire d’Histoire Des Théories Linguistiques (CNRS, Paris)


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