Language area

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A linguistic area (also linguistic area or linguistic landscape ) is a region with a uniform language of its residents ( mother tongue ), including the local dialects .

In everyday language, for example, the term “German language area” is used with the respective dialects of the Upper, Middle and Low German language areas. This German-speaking area in turn belongs to the Germanic-speaking area.

The terms Romance, Slavic or Germanic language area are used, subdivided into the respective languages ​​and language areas such as Italian, Slovene or German language areas.

Creation of language areas

A language area or language area is a region with a uniform language, usually supplemented by an ethnological unit. “Language boundaries” arise when two language areas develop apart. This is how the Teutons came to their own language area through the so-called first or Germanic sound shift . This clearly separated them from their contemporaries, the Celts , Slavs and Balts .

However, language areas can also overlap if two or more language groups inhabit a common area.

Language area and state

Language areas mostly do not coincide with national borders, but are transnational, since states are works of art (constructs) and have arisen in other ways, for example through princely weddings or wars. Linguistic areas, on the other hand, emerged in the course of history through migration movements. The closed Central European German-speaking area is crossed by several national borders and states such as Germany , Austria , Liechtenstein and Luxembourg as well as the regions German-speaking Switzerland in Switzerland, East Belgium in Belgium, South Tyrol in Upper Italy and, to a small extent, Alsace and Lorraine in France belong entirely or partially to it. The Dutch and Flemish Belgians, with their dialects of the West Germanic dialect continuum , were once included, but now have an umbrella language of Dutch . Some relatively closed German-speaking areas, such as that of the Danube Swabia , are external language islands within foreign language areas.

Since language areas exist independently of national borders, states can also comprise several language areas or parts thereof. The national territory of Switzerland, for example, comprises parts of German, French and Italian as well as an ever smaller proportion of the Romansh-speaking area . The language borders within Switzerland mostly have popular names.


  • Joachim Born, Sylvia Dickgießer: German-speaking minorities. An overview of the state of research for 27 countries. Institute for the German Language, Mannheim 1989, ISBN 3-922641-39-3 . The book describes the spread of German outside the contiguous German-speaking area.
  • dtv-Atlas German language . 15th, revised and updated edition. Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-423-03025-9 . This book describes the development and expansion of the German-speaking area in maps and text.
  • Alfred Lameli: Structures in the Language Area . Analyzes of the area-typological complexity of dialects in Germany. Berlin, Boston 2013, ISBN 3-110331-23-3 . The book classifies the dialects in Germany.
  • Wolfgang Viereck, Karin Viereck, Heinrich Ramisch: dtv-Atlas English language. Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-423-03239-1 , pp. 95–99. This book describes the development and expansion of the English-speaking world in maps and text.

Web links

Wiktionary: Language area  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Language area  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations