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Applied Linguistics Review

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Writing systems and language contact in the Euro- and Sinocentric worlds

Florian Coulmas
Published Online: 2014-04-11 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2014-0001


On the social level languages contact usually implies hierarchies, reflecting historical processes of adaptation and power relations between groups of speakers. This paper considers language contact in the written mode from the point of view of choice, that is, choice of language and choice of writing system. A wider range of factors that have a bearing on choice in contact situations of languages and their writing systems must be taken into consideration: political, social, linguistic and ideological. Examples of each kind from the Eurocentric and Sinocentric worlds are discussed and compared with each other. Particular attention is paid to the relationship bilingual writers create between the units of two languages and two writing systems which, from a sociolinguistic point of view, is seen as indicative of the status and function of the languages involved.

Keywords: choice of writing systems; language contact; gloss; pseudo-writing

About the article

Florian Coulmas

Florian Coulmas is Director of the German Institute for Japanese Studies Tokyo (www.dijtokyo.org/?lang=en). He has written several books on writing systems and Sociolinguistics. His latest book is entitled, ``Writing and Society'', CUP 2013.

Published Online: 2014-04-11

Published in Print: 2014-04-01

Citation Information: Applied Linguistics Review, Volume 5, Issue 1, Pages 1–21, ISSN (Online) 1868-6311, ISSN (Print) 1868-6303, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2014-0001.

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