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An Introduction to Human Geography The Cultural Landscape, 9e James M. Rubenstein. Chapter 5. Language. Victoria Alapo, Instructor Geog 1050. Language & Dialects. Language is a major difference in pattern of communication e.g. English, Yoruba, French, etc. Dialects

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chapter 5

An Introduction to Human Geography

The Cultural Landscape, 9e

James M. Rubenstein



Victoria Alapo, Instructor

Geog 1050

language dialects
Language &Dialects
  • Languageis a major difference in pattern of communication e.g. English, Yoruba, French, etc.
  • Dialects
    • Minor variations in pattern within a language. E.g. Pidgin English, American English, British English – differenttypes of the same language.
    • Oyo Yoruba, Ogun Yoruba, Lagos Yoruba.
    • French: standard, Creole, etc
    • Spanish: standard (Spain), Mexican, etc
origin diffusion and dialects of english
Origin, Diffusion, and Dialects of English
  • Origin and diffusion of English
    • Origin of English in England, see text
    • English colonies
  • Dialects of English
    • Dialects in England, text
    • Differences between British and American English (spelling, pronunciation, etc), e.g. Colour, Saviour, etc
    • Dialects in the United States
english speaking countries
English Speaking Countries

English is the official language in 42 countries, including some in which it is not the most widely

spoken language. It is also used and understood in many others.

dialects in the eastern u s
Dialects in the Eastern U.S.

Hans Kurath (1949) divided the eastern U.S. into three dialect regions, whose distribution is similar to that of house types (Fig. 4-9).

indo european language family
Indo-European Language Family

The main branches of the Indo-European language family include Germanic,

Romance, Balto-Slavic, and Indo-Iranian. English is in the West Germanic group

romance branch of indo european
Romance Branch of Indo-European

The Romance branch includes three of the world’s 12 most widely spoken languages

(Spanish, French, and Portuguese), as well as a number of smaller languages and dialects.

south asian languages and language families indo iranian branch
South Asian Languages and Language Families (Indo-Iranian Branch)

Indo-European is the largest of four main language families in South Asia. The country of India has 18 official languages.

distribution of other language families
Distribution of Other LanguageFamilies
  • Classification of languages
  • Distribution of language families
    • Sino-Tibetan language family
    • Other East and Southeast Asian language families
    • Afro-Asiatic language family
    • Altaic and Uralic language families
    • African language families
language families of the world
Language Families of the World

Distribution of the world’s main language families.

Languages with more than 100 million speakers are named.

major language families percentage of world population
Major Language FamiliesPercentage of World Population

The percentage of world population speaking each of the main language families. Indo-European and Sino-Tibetan together represent almost 75% of the world’s people.

language family trees
Language Family Trees

Family trees and estimated numbers of speakers for the main world language families.

chinese ideograms
Chinese Ideograms

Chinese language ideograms mostly represent concepts rather than sounds.

The two basic characters at the top can be built into more complex words.

language families of africa
Language Families of Africa

The 1,000 or more languages of Africa are divided among five main language families,

including Austronesian languages in Madagascar.

languages of nigeria
Languages of Nigeria

More than 400 languages are spoken in Nigeria, the largest country in Africa (by population). English, considered neutral, is the official language, see pg 167.

language diversity and uniformity
Language Diversity and Uniformity
  • Preserving language diversity
    • Hebrew: reviving extinct languages, pg 168
    • Celtic: preserving endangered languages
    • Multilingual states, e.g. Canada, Nigeria, tec
    • Isolated languages – unchanging thru lack of interaction. E.g. Basque & Icelandic.
    • Australian & New Zealand experience; Read pg 173
  • Global dominance of English
    • English is a lingua franca – common language or language of international communication. Others include, Arabic, Swahili, French, Hausa, etc
    • Diffusion to other languages e.g. “Spanglish” & “Franglais” (pg 173-177).
other definitions of languages
Other Definitions of Languages
  • Official Language – the language in which governmentrecords are kept. Includes signage and education.
  • National language – a language tied to just one country. E.g. Japanese, Icelandic, Nepali.
  • Polyglot states – more than one official language recognized. E.g. Israel, Canada, Belgium, India, Switzerland, etc (see next slides). That means a country can be multilingual e.g. Nigeria, and yet only have one official language.
american english should it be the official language
American English: Should it be the Official Language?
  • U.S. Constitution did not specify language
    • U.S. House and Senate disagree
  • Dedication to common language (patriotism) or resentment of changing immigration trends?
language divisions in belgium
Language Divisions in Belgium

There has been much tension in Belgium between the Flemings, who live in the north and speak Flemish (a Dutch dialect), and the Walloons, who live in the south and speak French.

language areas in switzerland
Language Areas in Switzerland

Switzerland remains peaceful with four official languages and a

decentralized government structure.

french english boundary in canada
French-English Boundary in Canada

Although Canada is bilingual, French speakers are concentrated in the province of Québec, where 80% of the population speaks French.

internet hosts by language
Internet Hosts, by Language

The large majority of internet hosts in 1999 used English, Chinese,

Japanese, or European languages.

internet hosts
Internet Hosts

A large proportion of the world’s internet users and hosts are in the developed countries of North

America, Western Europe and Japan. 50% of people online and 75% of websites use English.