Convergence vs. divergence from a diasystematic perspective

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Convergence and divergence are usually defined as changes in opposite directions– convergence increases, divergence decreases interlingual similaritiesbetween two given languages or varieties. Additionally, convergence is oftenexplained as the ‘natural’, expectable process in language contact, whereas divergenceis associated with psychosocial mechanisms. Based on observations fromthe recent development of Low German in its present intense contact with HighGerman, this contribution argues that the distinction between convergence anddivergence is not as straightforward as it seems and that it is not convergence assuch that can be explained without the involvement of any extralinguistic factors,but rather pro-diasystematic change (as opposed to counter-diasystematicchange) – i.e. innovations that facilitate the establishment of language-unspecificstructures in a common constructional system.


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