Dialect geography Part of map 72 of the Atlas linguistique de la France , recording local forms meaning "today" Dialectologists record variation across a dialect continuum using maps of various features collected in a linguistic atlas , beginning with an atlas of German dialects by Georg Wenker from , based on a postal survey of schoolmasters.
The influential Atlas linguistique de la France —10 pioneered the use of a trained fieldworker. Autonomy and heteronomy sociolinguistics Local dialects of the West Germanic continuum are oriented towards either Standard Dutch or Standard German, depending on which side of the border they are spoken. Speakers of local varieties typically read and write a related standard variety, use it for official purposes, hear it on radio and television, and consider it the standard form of their speech, so that any standardizing changes in their speech are towards that variety.
In such cases the local variety is said to be dependent on, or heteronomous with respect to, the standard variety. As a result, speakers on either side of the boundary may use almost identical varieties, but treat them as dependent on different standards, and thus part of different "languages". Examples of controversies are regions such as the disputed territory of Kashmir , in which local Muslims usually regard their language as Urdu , the national standard of Pakistan , while Hindus regard the same speech as Hindi , an official standard of India.
In the Yugoslav republic of Macedonia , a standard was developed from local varieties within a continuum with Serbia to the north and Bulgaria to the east. The standard was deliberately based on varieties from the west of the republic that were most different from standard Bulgarian. Now known as Macedonian , it is the national standard of the independent Republic of Macedonia , but viewed by Bulgarians as a dialect of Bulgarian. Europe provides several examples of dialect continua, the largest of which involve the Germanic , Romance and Slavic branches of the Indo-European language family , the continent's largest language groups.
The Romance area spanned much of the territory of the Roman Empire , but was split into western and eastern portions by the Slav Migrations into the Balkans in the 7th and 8th centuries. The Slavic area was in turn split by the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin in the 9th and 10th centuries. The Continental North Germanic languages Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian are close enough and intelligible enough for some to consider them to be dialects of the same language, but the Insular ones Icelandic and Faroese are not immediately intelligible to the other North Germanic speakers.
Continental West Germanic continuum Historically, the Dutch , Frisian and German dialects formed a perfect dialect continuum, which has been gradually falling apart since the Late Middle Ages due to the pressures of modern education, standard languages, migration and weakening knowledge of the dialects.
From Central German to Southeastern Dutch Limburgish in the so-called Rhenish fan , an area corresponding largely to the modern Niederrhein in which gradual but geographically compact changes took place.
This sub-continuum also included West Frisian dialects up until the s, but faced external pressure from Standard Dutch and, after the collapse of the Hanseatic League , Standard German which greatly influenced the vocabularies of these border dialects.
Fragmentary areas of the Dutch-German border in which language change is more gradual than in other sections or a higher degree of mutual intelligibility is present still exist, such as the Aachen - Kerkrade area, but the historical chain in which dialects were only divided by minor isoglosses and negligible differences in vocabulary has seen a rapid and ever-increasing decline since the s.
One study concluded that when concerning written language, Dutch speakers could translate The Orcadian dialect of Scots is very different from the various dialects of English in southern England , but they are linked by a chain of intermediate steps.
Romance languages The western continuum of Romance languages comprises, from West to East: This continuum is sometimes presented as another example, but the major languages in the group have had separate standards for longer than the languages in the Continental West Germanic group, and so are not commonly classified as dialects of a common language. Focusing instead on the local Romance lects that pre-existed the establishment of national or regional standard languages, all evidence and principles point to Romania continua as having been, and to varying extents in some areas still being, what Charles Hockett called an L-complex, i.
This is perhaps most evident today in Italy, where, especially in rural and small-town contexts, local Romance is still often employed at home and work, and geolinguistic distinctions are such that while native speakers from any two nearby towns can understand each other with ease, they can also spot from linguistic features that the other is from elsewhere.
In recent centuries, the intermediate dialects between the major Romance languages have been moving toward extinction , as their speakers have switched to varieties closer to the more prestigious national standards. That has been most notable in France, but it has occurred to some extent in all Western Romance speaking countries. Language change has also threatened the survival of stateless languages with existing literary standards, such as Occitan. The Romance languages of Italy are a less arguable example of a dialect continuum.
For many decades since Italy's unification, the attitude of the French government towards the ethnolinguistic minorities was copied by the Italian government.
Romanian is spoken throughout Romania and its dialects meet the Moldovan registers spoken across the border in Moldova. Romanians believe the Moldovan language to be a dialect grai of Romanian, but some separatist political forces in the Republic of Moldova claim that Moldovan is a separate language. Outside Romania, across the other south-east European countries, various Romanian language groups are to be found:
Dialect geography Part of map 72 of the Atlas linguistique de la France , recording local forms meaning "today" Dialectologists record variation across a dialect continuum using maps of various features collected in a linguistic atlas , beginning with an atlas of German dialects by Georg Wenker from , based on a postal survey of schoolmasters. The influential Atlas linguistique de la France —10 pioneered the use of a trained fieldworker.
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