Comparative Linguistics

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Comparative linguistics is an umbrella term for linguistic disciplines that are dedicated to the comparison of individual languages or of different language levels of a specific individual language. The field is often referred to as comparative linguistics and should not be confused with comparative literature in the sense of comparative literature.

When comparing languages , a distinction can be made between two types of research. On the one hand, it can be a diachronic comparison, i.e. a comparison of a language in the course of its development over time; on the other hand, a comparison can be made from a synchronous point of view, i.e. a linguistic phenomenon or a linguistic system can be examined at a certain point in time and compared with other phenomena or linguistic systems.

Essentially, comparative linguistics is divided into general comparative and historical comparative subjects. The former sub-areas are also considered subjects of general linguistics , the latter are also assigned to historical linguistics .

The following linguistic sub-disciplines belong to comparative linguistics:

The following closely related sub-areas are considered general comparative subjects:

  • the contrastive linguistics (especially in Eastern Europe and confrontational linguistics called), which focuses on the systematic comparison of languages at different linguistic levels of description;
  • the contact linguistics , linguistic phenomena and to explore which describes that arise upon contact between (typically) two languages or upon contact between the users of these languages;
  • the language typology , which typologizes languages ​​on the basis of certain linguistic criteria;
  • the area typology , which u. a. Language federations determined.

See also


  • Guy Deutscher: In the mirror of language. Why the world looks different in other languages , from English by Martin Pfeiffer; Verlag CH Beck, Munich 2010 ISBN 978-3-498-03001-8
  • Theodor Lewandowski: Linguistic Dictionary. 4., rework. Aufl. Quelle & Meyer, Heidelberg 1984. ISBN 3-494-02020-5
  • Harald Wiese: A journey through time to the origins of our language. How Indo-European Studies explains our words. Logos Verlag, Berlin 2010, 2nd edition, ISBN 978-3-8325-1601-7 .