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The study of language contact investigates the ways that language communities interact and the impact of that contact on the languages.
Language contact can occur between a few individuals from one language community and a more dominant language community. These individuals may become multilingual to some degree, but this kind of contact will have very little, if any, impact on the heritage language of the individuals.
Contact will be more significant when a large portion of a language community is having interaction with people from another language community. The kind of interaction will also affect the linguistic impact of the contact. For example, if people from a remote community visit the market where all the people speak another language, the visitors will learn vocabulary necessary for commerce, but possibly little more. If people from a more dominant language community move into the same location as the members of a less dominant culture, there will be interaction in a wider variety of social situations. In such a case, people from both languages may begin adopting phrases and vocabulary from the other language. In some cases, the langugaes merge and become a new language.