Article published in:Stability and Divergence in Language Contact: Factors and Mechanisms
Edited by Kurt Braunmüller, Steffen Höder and Karoline Kühl
[Studies in Language Variation 16] 2014
► pp. 39–60
Convergence vs. divergence from a diasystematic perspective
Convergence and divergence are usually defined as changes in opposite directions – convergence increases, divergence decreases interlingual similarities between two given languages or varieties. Additionally, convergence is often explained as the ‘natural’, expectable process in language contact, whereas divergence is associated with psychosocial mechanisms. Based on observations from the recent development of Low German in its present intense contact with High German, this contribution argues that the distinction between convergence and divergence is not as straightforward as it seems and that it is not convergence as such that can be explained without the involvement of any extralinguistic factors, but rather pro-diasystematic change (as opposed to counter-diasystematic change) – i.e. innovations that facilitate the establishment of language-unspecific structures in a common constructional system.
Published online: 26 November 2014
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