Research topic: Language contact

Language contact is contact between different languages which influences vocabulary or expressions in one or more of these languages.

Such contact can have several causes. For example, linguistic contact took place between Semitic and modern European languages as a result of several factors:

  • The Muslim conquests and their cultural influence on the Iberian peninsula and southern Italy
  • The political and economic contacts during the Middle Ages in the Mediterranean region, which resulted in the phenomenon Lingua Franca, which included Romance, Slavic and Semitic elements
  • The activities of the colonial powers Great Britain, France and Italy in the Middle East and North Africa
  • The migration of Arabs from former colonies to European countries, first and foremost England and France
  • The influence of international media languages on Arabic and Hebrew media (newspapers, satellite TV, the internet)
  • The influence of international vocabulary and expressions in other text genres, for example diplomatic language

There is historical evidence for many words and expressions which are found in both Semitic and Indo-European languages, for example Hebrew "yayn" and Greek "oínos" which mean wine.

Semitic loanwords are also found in Germanic languages, for example German "Sippe" (“confederation of families”) from Hebrew “mishpacha" which means “family”, which is a result of the Carthaginians colonizing the North Sea region during the 6th and 3rd centuries BC.

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Published Feb. 5, 2013 12:37 PM - Last modified Jan. 29, 2019 4:00 PM