Why do some regions have a greater diversity of languages than others? A process: • original human settlement of area brings original language or languages • subsequent isolation leads to increasing divergence through time • areas with greatest geographic isolation and most limited inter-group contact from each other will see the greatest numbers of dialects and then languages develop • new groups may come into region and dominate and replace local languages, adding their languages to the diversity but possibly eliminating some local languages • following #3, areas with little inter-group contact, tending to have stable and abundant resources, and/or otherwise be separated by geographic barriers, such as mountains, dense jungles, etc… such regions may have high linguistic diversity example: map of Africa - the dry Sahara with high human mobility and sparse resources has low linguistic diversity, while the densely vegetated equatorial areas (associated with less human mobility) have higher linguistic diversity.
Language Classification • language family: collection of individual languages related to each other by virtue of having a common ancestor • language branch: a group of closely related languages • dialect: form of a language spoken in a local or regional area, defined by vocabulary, cadence (rhythm), pronunciation, grammar/syntax (how words make phrases), and pace. Note that accent refers only to distinctive pronunciation. family/branch/language/dialect (Indo-European family/ Romance branch/ Spanish language/ Castilian) Standard language: dialect used for mass communications and education Official language: language adopted for use by the government
Indo-European common words • When we are aware that father corresponds to Dutch vader, Gothic fadar, Old Norse fadir, German Vater, Greek pater, Sanskrit pitar-, and Old Irish athir; • or that English brother corresponds to Dutch broeder, German Bruder, Greek phrater, Sanskrit bhratar-, Old Slavic bratu, Irish Brathair; • Together with many other such similarities and other evidence,we are led to the hypothesis that the languages of a large part of Europe, and even a part of Asia, were at one time from the same origin. • Source http://www.wordinfo.info/words/index/info/view_unit/4184/?letter=E&spage=4
Indo-European (con’t.) • William Jones (1786) studied ancient religious texts of India (in Sanskrit), noticed sim. grammar and vocab. with Latin and Greek • “must have come from a common source”…Where? • regions where words shared by modern Indo-European languages would have a use: • “fish” but not “ocean” • had goats, cows, horses, but not grapes • oak, beech, pine, birch, willow, bear, wolf suggest a cold, forested environment • People, language, culture spread as far as India and Great Britain
Language Change and Survival divergence: differentiation over time and space. Isolated dialects may become languages (eg. Latin to Spanish, French, Portuguese, Romanian, Italian) convergence: the contact of long isolated languages through relocation diffusion. replacement: when the language of a traditional people is replaced or severely modified or simplified by a dominant invader remnant languages: survivors of an invasion usually due to either isolation caused by physical barriers or lack of conquest by invaders
Language Change and Survival (con’t.) Once diffused into isolated areas, language change tends to be slower than in less isolated areas Pidgin: mother tongue simplified and modified by contact with other languages. Typically consists of less than 500 words, and developed by people who do not share a common language, but need to talk to each other Creole: when a pidgin language has become the mother tongue of a community, usually after a few generations. “creolization” involves expansion of vocabulary, grammar, and style Lingua Franca: common language spoken by various groups who need to communicate
Why do languages change through time? • replacement • natural drift in time • borrowing • relocation of speakers • changes in environment
Consonant softening • The story of Indo European