In dialectology, a dialect continuum is understood to be a chain of dialects within which no clear boundaries can be drawn according to internal linguistic structural criteria, since at least two geographically or socially neighboring dialects are mutually understandable.
Geographical dialect continua
Usually the term dialect continuum is used in the sense of a geographical dialect continuum , a coherent geographical area in which related dialects are spoken, between which no clear boundaries can be drawn according to internal linguistic structural criteria, since they are separated from one another by numerous isoglosses , the isoglosses however, for different linguistic phenomena, they generally do not run in the same place.
The dialects usually only change slightly from one place to the next, so that communication with the speakers in the immediate vicinity is always possible without any problems. The greater the distance between the locations, the greater the differences and, accordingly, communication becomes more difficult, until after a certain local distance no more communication on a basilectal basis is possible.
Dialect areas are part of a dialect continuum and have developed through geographical isolation and thus through the development of local communication. (Compare also the related, but not identical, term dialect cluster .)
Geographical dialect continua and umbrella languages
Since a clear breakdown into several individual languages is not possible even with larger geographical dialect continua according to purely internal linguistic structural criteria, the constructed classifications are usually based on political or cultural boundaries, which have led to the use of different umbrella languages in different areas. If the distribution areas of the umbrella languages have changed over time or if their status is itself controversial, this can result in different constructs of classifications of the same dialects.
If dialects of a dialect continuum that are far apart from each other have a common umbrella language, one usually speaks of dialects of the same language, even if the varieties are not mutually understandable. Dialect speakers who are proficient in the umbrella language live in a linguistic situation known as diglossia .
Social dialect continua
In addition to geographical dialect continua, there are also social dialect continua between basilectal and acrolectal language varieties that are spoken in the same geographical area. Here basilect and acrolect can differ from one another to the point of mutual incomprehensibility, but there is a chain of varieties in between, the characteristics of basilect and acrolect mix with each other to different degrees, so that a clear separation of the varieties is not possible.
Examples of large-scale geographical dialect continua
- The continental West Germanic dialect continuum , also referred to by some linguists as the German - Dutch dialect continuum after the overarching literary languages , comprises the Upper German , Central German , Low German and Lower Franconian dialects in a contiguous area of Central and Western Europe . A Dutch study, however, came to the conclusion that the German-Dutch state border in the case of the Kleverland dialects has meanwhile become a sharp language border.
- At the time of Old English also made English a dialect continuum with the West Germanic languages on the mainland, the dialect speakers on the mainland and the island were able to communicate orally and in writing with each other. But after the Norman conquest of the British Isles (1066), the Old English and continental dialects, also due to the geographical separation, diverged to such an extent that this former dialect continuum no longer exists. However, many place names in England are still reminiscent of settlement by Saxons and Angles .
- The mainland Scandinavian dialect continuum today includes Danish , Swedish and the numerous dialects of Norwegian . In the Middle Ages, the Nordic languages of Faroese and Icelandic still formed a dialect continuum with the Scandinavian languages of the mainland, which is no longer available today due to the long separation.
- The (western) Romance languages between the Atlantic, Adriatic and English Channel ( Portuguese , Galician , Asturian , Spanish , Catalan , Occitan , French , Romansh , Italian , Sardinian ) form a dialect continuum. At the transition between the other languages and French but this breaks currently, as the different from standard French native Gallo Romance languages in France and French-speaking Switzerland ( Occitan , Franco-Provençal and peripheral Oïl languages ) were driven in large part from the standard French and are therefore at risk of extinction .
- The North Slavic dialect continuum, which includes the West Slavic languages Czech , Slovak and Polish and the East Slavic languages Ukrainian , Russian and Belarusian .
- The South Slavic Slovene language forms a common language area with Croatian , Bosnian and Serbian (dialect continuum Serbo-Croatian with the dialect groups Kajkavian , Štokavian , Čakavian and Torlakisch - the first three named after the word for "what" - as well as [as a subgroup of Štokavian] Ekavian, Ijekavisch and Ikavisch - named after the pronunciation of the Old Slavic sound jat [* ě]), Macedonian , Aegean-Macedonian and Bulgarian .
- The New Indo-Aryan languages, apart from Sinhala , represent another classic dialect continuum, which , in addition to the same source language, also came about through various migration movements and the associated mixing processes in the Indian heartland, which is barely divided by natural barriers.
- The Arabic- speaking area includes the states from Morocco to Iraq , bordered by the Sahara in the south, the Atlantic in the west, the Mediterranean in the north and Turkish , Kurdish , Lurian and Persian in the east.
- The Quechua language area comprises the languages Quechua I, II a, II b and II c with numerous sub-variants in western South America.
- The languages of the Eskimos form a dialect continuum from easternmost Siberia to Greenland . They are often collectively referred to as Inuktitut .
- JK Chambers, Peter Trudgill: Dialectology. 2nd edition, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1998, ISBN 0-521-59646-7 (Cambridge textbooks in linguistics).
- Alfred Lameli: Structures in the Language Area . Analyzes of the area-typological complexity of dialects in Germany. Berlin / Boston 2013, ISBN 3-11-033123-3 .
- J. K. Chambers, Peter Trudgill: Dialectology. 2nd ed., Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge 1998, pp. 5-7 (Geographical dialect continua).
- JK Chambers, Peter Trudgill: Dialectology. 2nd ed., Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge 1998, pp. 5-7, 9-12.
- JK Chambers, Peter Trudgill: Dialectology. 2nd ed., Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge 1998, pp. 7-9 (Social dialect continua).
- JK Chambers, Peter Trudgill: Dialectology. 2nd ed., Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge 1998, p. 6 (West Germanic dialect continuum).
- Charlotte Giesbers: Dialecten op de grens van twee talen - een dialectologischer en sociolinguïtisch onderzoek in het Kleverlands dialectgebied. Proefschrift, Radboud Universiteit, Nijmegen 2008, p. 187. (Part of this doctoral thesis is a German-language summary from page 233.)
- JK Chambers, Peter Trudgill: Dialectology. 2nd ed., Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge 1998, p. 6 (Scandinavian dialect continuum) .
- JK Chambers, Peter Trudgill: Dialectology. 2nd ed., Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge 1998, p. 6 (West Romance dialect continuum) .
- JK Chambers, Peter Trudgill: Dialectology. 2nd ed., Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge 1998, p. 6 (North Slavic dialect continuum) .
- JK Chambers, Peter Trudgill: Dialectology. 2nd ed., Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge 1998, p. 6 (South Slavic dialect continuum) .