This special issue of Americana presents a selection of linguistics papers on language contact of American relevance as well as three book reviews of a wider, sociolinguistic focus.
Four of the five research papers included in this issue deal with immigrant varieties of European (specifically, Finno-Ugric) languages spoken in North America: American Finnish, Canadian Estonian, and American Hungarian. The first paper, “American Finnish and English in contact” by Timo Lauttamus and Pekka Hirvonen, investigates both languages of Finnish Americans on the basis of data collected in Minnesota and in Florida, presenting a widely contextualized picture of both the Finnish and the English side of American Finnish speech. Boglárka Janurik’s paper “Contact induced features of Canadian Estonian: An analysis of forum discussions of the online newspaper Eesti Elu” studies the linguistic features of written Canadian Estonian as occurring in internet discussions. Focusing on written language use, the paper provides a look into a new aspect of immigrant languages, which have so far been studied mostly on the basis of spoken data from sociolinguistic interviews. Two papers, Tímea Kovács’s and Anna Fenyvesi and Gyula Zsigri’s, use Optimality Theoretical approaches to language contact data. In her paper “How Optimality Theory works for bilingual grammar: On the applicability of Optimality Theory for bilingual grammar for the description of English-Hungarian code-switching patterns” Kovács uses an innovative approach, first developed by Bhatt and Bolonyai (2011), in the analysis of code-switching by American Hungarians to explain the sociopragmatic constraints of immigrant Hungarian speech. Fenyvesi and Zsigri analyze American Hungarian loanwords with initial unstressed syllables in their paper “The adaptation of English initial unstressed syllables in American Hungarian loans: Theoretical implications” to explain differences in the phonology of loanwords in Hungary Hungarian vs. American Hungarian speech.
The fifth paper, Erzsébet Balogh’s “Attitudes discussed, explained and revealed: Hungarian students’ perspectives on language attitudes towards American English accent varieties”, discusses methodological issues of language attitude research in a situation of language contact, i.e. the attitudes of English major Hungarian students towards American English.
The book reviews included in this issue are of Gabriella Gahlia Modan’s Turf wars, an ethnography with a discourse perspective, by Éva Misits; Xiao-lei Wang’s Growing up with three languages, a study of child trilingualism, by Timea Molnár; and H. Samy Alim and John Baugh’s Talking Black talk, an edited volume on language rights, by Paulina László.