HOME

TheInfoList



A dialect continuum or dialect chain is a series of language varieties spoken across some geographical area such that neighboring varieties are
mutually intelligible In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include p ...
, but the differences accumulate over distance so that widely separated varieties may not be. This is a typical occurrence with widely spread languages and language families around the world, when these languages did not spread recently. Some prominent examples include the
Indo-Aryan languages The Indo-Aryan or Indic languages form a major language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages h ...
across large parts of
India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous country, the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest ...

India
,
varieties of Arabic The varieties Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Variety (universal algebra), classes of algebraic structures defined by equations in univers ...
across north Africa and southwest Asia, the Chinese languages or dialects, and subgroups of the
Romance Romance (from Vulgar Latin , "in the Roman language", i.e., "Latin") may refer to: Common meanings * Romance (love) Romance or Romantic love is an emotional feeling of love for, or a strong attraction towards another person, and the Court ...

Romance
,
Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic language, a reconstructed proto-language of ...

Germanic
and
Slavic
Slavic
families in Europe.
Leonard Bloomfield Leonard Bloomfield (April 1, 1887 – April 18, 1949) was an American linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), ges ...
used the name dialect area. Charles F. Hockett used the term L-complex. Dialect continua typically occur in long-settled agrarian populations, as innovations spread from their various points of origin as
waves The United States Naval Reserve (Women's Reserve), better known as the WAVES (for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), was the women's branch of the United States Naval Reserve during World War II World War II or the S ...
. In this situation, hierarchical classifications of varieties are impractical. Instead, dialectologists map variation of various language features across a dialect continuum, drawing lines called
isogloss Image:German dialectal map.PNG">300px, High German subdivides into Upper German (green) and Central German (blue), and is distinguished from Low Franconian and Low German (yellow). The main isoglosses, the Benrath line, Benrath and Speyer lines, ...
es between areas that differ with respect to some feature. A variety within a dialect continuum may be developed and codified as a
standard language A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety In sociolinguistics, a variety, also called an isolect or lect, is a specific form of a language or language cluster. This may include language ...
, and then serve as an authority for part of the continuum, e.g. within a particular political unit or geographical area. Since the early 20th century, the increasing dominance of
nation-states A nation state is a political unit where the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newsp ...
and their standard languages has been steadily eliminating the nonstandard dialects that comprise dialect continua, making the boundaries ever more abrupt and well-defined.


Dialect geography

Dialectologists record variation across a dialect continuum using maps of various features collected in a
linguistic atlas 240px, Isoglosses on the Faroe Islands A linguistic map is a thematic map showing the geographic distribution of the speakers of a language, or isoglosses of a dialect continuum of the same language. A collection of such maps is a linguistic atla ...
, beginning with an atlas of
German dialects German dialects are the various traditional local varieties of the German language. Though varied by region, those of the southern half of Germany beneath the Benrath line are dominated by the geographical spread of the High German consonant sh ...
by
Georg Wenker Georg Wenker (January 25, 1852 – July 17, 1911) was a German linguist who began documenting German dialect geography during the late nineteenth century. He is considered a pioneer in this field and contributed several groundbreaking publicat ...
(from 1888), based on a postal survey of schoolmasters. The influential ''
Atlas linguistique de la France The ''Atlas linguistique de la France'' (ALF, Linguistic Atlas of France) is an influential dialect atlas of Romance languages, Romance varieties in France published in 13 volumes between 1902 and 1910 by Jules Gilliéron and Edmond Edmont. Wherea ...
'' (1902–10) pioneered the use of a trained fieldworker. These atlases typically consist of ''display maps'', each showing local forms of a particular item at the survey locations. Secondary studies may include ''interpretive maps'', showing the areal distribution of various variants. A common tool in these maps is an
isogloss Image:German dialectal map.PNG">300px, High German subdivides into Upper German (green) and Central German (blue), and is distinguished from Low Franconian and Low German (yellow). The main isoglosses, the Benrath line, Benrath and Speyer lines, ...
, a line separating areas where different variants of a particular feature predominate. In a dialect continuum, isoglosses for different features are typically spread out, reflecting the gradual transition between varieties. A bundle of coinciding isoglosses indicates a stronger dialect boundary, as might occur at geographical obstacles or long-standing political boundaries. In other cases, intersecting isoglosses and more complex patterns are found.


Relationship with standard varieties

Standard varieties A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety In sociolinguistics, a variety, also called an isolect or lect, is a specific form of a language or language cluster. This may include language ...
may be developed and codified at one or more locations in a continuum until they have independent cultural status (autonomy), a process the
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
linguist
Heinz KlossHeinz Kloss (30 October 1904, Halle, Saxony-Anhalt Halle (Saale), or simply Halle (; from the 15th to the 17th century: ''Hall in Sachsen''; until the beginning of the 20th century: ''Halle an der Saale'' ; from 1965 to 1995: ''Halle/Saale'') is t ...
called ''
ausbau In sociolinguistics Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural Norm (sociology), norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and society's effect on language. ...
''. Speakers of local varieties typically read and write a related standard variety, use it for official purposes, hear it on radio and television, and consider it the standard form of their speech, so that any standardizing changes in their speech are towards that variety. In such cases the local variety is said to be dependent on, or heteronomous with respect to, the standard variety. A standard variety together with its dependent varieties is commonly considered a "language", with the dependent varieties called "dialects" of the language, even if the standard is mutually intelligible with another standard from the same continuum. The
Scandinavian languages The North Germanic languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages—a sub-family of the Indo-European languages—along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages. The language group is also re ...
,
Danish Danish may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Denmark * A national or citizen of Denmark, also called a "Dane", see Demographics of Denmark * Danish people or Danes, people with a Danish ancestral or ethnic identity * Danis ...
,
Norwegian Norwegian, Norwayan, or Norsk may refer to: *Something of, from, or related to Norway, a country in northwestern Europe *Norwegians, both a nation and an ethnic group native to Norway *Demographics of Norway *The Norwegian language, including the t ...
and
Swedish Swedish or ' may refer to: * Anything from or related to Sweden, a country in Northern Europe * Swedish language, a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Sweden and Finland * Swedish alphabet, the official alphabet used by the Swedish langua ...
, are often cited as examples. Conversely, a language defined in this way may include local varieties that are mutually unintelligible, such as the
German dialects German dialects are the various traditional local varieties of the German language. Though varied by region, those of the southern half of Germany beneath the Benrath line are dominated by the geographical spread of the High German consonant sh ...
. The choice of standard is often determined by a political boundary, which may cut across a dialect continuum. As a result, speakers on either side of the boundary may use almost identical varieties, but treat them as dependent on different standards, and thus part of different "languages". The various local dialects then tend to be leveled towards their respective standard varieties, disrupting the previous dialect continuum. Examples include the boundaries between
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
and
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
, between
Czech Czech may refer to: * Anything from or related to the Czech Republic The Czech Republic (; cs, Česká republika ), also known by its short-form name, Czechia (; cz, Česko ), is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Au ...
,
Slovak Slovak may refer to: * Something from, related to, or belonging to Slovakia (''Slovenská republika'') * Slovaks, a Western Slavic ethnic group * Slovak language, an Indo-European language that belongs to the West Slavic languages * Slovak, Arkans ...
and
Polish Polish may refer to: * Anything from or related to Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Pol ...
, and between
Belarusian Belarusian may refer to: * Something of, or related to Belarus * Belarusians, people from Belarus, or of Belarusian descent * A citizen of Belarus, see Demographics of Belarus * Belarusian language * Belarusian culture * Belarusian cuisine * Byeloru ...
and
Ukrainian Ukrainian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Ukraine * Something relating to Ukrainians an East Slavic people from Eastern Europe * Something relating to Demographics of Ukraine, in terms of demography: population of Ukraine * Somethi ...
. The choice may be a matter of national, regional or religious identity, and may be controversial. Examples of controversies are regions such as the disputed territory of
Kashmir Kashmir, ks, کٔشیٖر, kaśīr () is the northernmost geographical region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term "Kashmir" denoted only the Kashmir Valley The Kashmir Valley, also known as the ''Vale o ...

Kashmir
, in which local
Muslim Muslims () are people who follow or practice Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God) is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic monotheistic religion teaching that Muhammad is a Muhammad in Islam, ...

Muslim
s usually regard their language as
Urdu Urdu (; ur, , ALA-LC: ) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The region consists of the c ...

Urdu
, the national standard of
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, e ...

Pakistan
, while
Hindus Hindus () are persons who regard themselves as culturally, ethnically, or religiously adhering to aspects of Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion and ''dharma'', or way of life. It is the Major religious groups, world's third-l ...

Hindus
regard the same speech as
Hindi Hindi ( Devanagari: हिन्दी, IAST/ ISO 15919: ''Hindī''), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi ( Devanagari: मानक हिन्दी, IAST/ ISO 15919: ''Mānak Hindī''), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in ...

Hindi
, an official standard of
India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous country, the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest ...

India
. Even though, the Eighth Schedule to the Indian Constitution contains a list of 22 scheduled languages and Urdu is among them. During the time of the former
Socialist Republic of Macedonia 250px, Monument of Lazar Koliševski in his hometown Sveti Nikole. Kolishevski was the first Prime Minister of the SR Macedonia. The Socialist Republic of Macedonia ( mk, Социјалистичка Република Македонија, S ...

Socialist Republic of Macedonia
, a standard was developed from local varieties of
Eastern South Slavic The Eastern South Slavic dialects form the eastern subgroup of the South Slavic languages The South Slavic languages are one of three branches of the Slavic languages The Slavic languages, also known as the Slavonic languages, are Indo- ...
, within a continuum with
Torlakian Torlakian, or Torlak ( sh, / , ; bg, Торлашки, Torlashki; mk, Торлачки, Torlački), is a group of South Slavic dialects of southeastern Serbia Serbia (, ; sr, Србија, Srbija, ),, * cs, Srbsko, * ro, Serbia * ...
to the north and
Bulgarian Bulgarian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Bulgaria * Bulgarians, a South Slavic ethnic group * Bulgarian language, a Slavic language * Bulgarian alphabet * A citizen of Bulgaria, see Demographics of Bulgaria * Bulg ...

Bulgarian
to the east. The standard was deliberately based on varieties from the west of the republic that were most different from standard
Bulgarian Bulgarian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Bulgaria * Bulgarians, a South Slavic ethnic group * Bulgarian language, a Slavic language * Bulgarian alphabet * A citizen of Bulgaria, see Demographics of Bulgaria * Bulg ...

Bulgarian
. Now known as
Macedonian Macedonian most often refers to someone or something from or related to Macedonia (disambiguation), Macedonia. Macedonian may specifically refer to: People Modern * Macedonians (ethnic group), the South Slavic ethnic group primarily associated w ...
, it is the national standard of
North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia before February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe ...
, but viewed by Bulgarians as a dialect of Bulgarian.


Europe

Europe provides several examples of dialect continua, the largest of which involve the
Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic language, a reconstructed proto-language of ...

Germanic
,
Romance Romance (from Vulgar Latin , "in the Roman language", i.e., "Latin") may refer to: Common meanings * Romance (love) Romance or Romantic love is an emotional feeling of love for, or a strong attraction towards another person, and the Court ...

Romance
and
Slavic
Slavic
branches of the
Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...
, the continent's largest language groups. The Romance area spanned much of the territory of the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity it included large territorial holdings aro ...

Roman Empire
but was split into western and eastern portions by the Slav Migrations into the Balkans in the 7th and 8th centuries. The Slavic area was in turn split by the
Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin The Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin, also Hungarian conquest or Hungarian land-taking ( hu, honfoglalás: "conquest of the homeland"), was a series of historical events ending with the settlement of the Hungarians Hungarians, also ...
in the 9th and 10th centuries.


Germanic languages


North Germanic continuum

The
Germanic languages and dialects of Scandinavia
Germanic languages and dialects of Scandinavia
are a classic example of a dialect continuum, from Swedish dialects in Finland, to
Swedish Swedish or ' may refer to: * Anything from or related to Sweden, a country in Northern Europe * Swedish language, a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Sweden and Finland * Swedish alphabet, the official alphabet used by the Swedish langua ...
,
Gutnish Gutnish ( ), or rarely Gutnic ( or ), refers to the original language spoken on parts of the islands of Gotland and Fårö. The different dialects of Gutnish, while stemming from the Old Gutnish ( sv, Forngutniska) variety of Old Norse, are somet ...
,
Elfdalian Elfdalian or Övdalian ( or , pronounced in Elfdalian, or in Swedish) is a North Germanic language variety spoken by up to 3,000 people who live or have grown up in the locality of Älvdalen ('), which is located in the southeastern part of ...
, Scanian,
Danish Danish may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Denmark * A national or citizen of Denmark, also called a "Dane", see Demographics of Denmark * Danish people or Danes, people with a Danish ancestral or ethnic identity * Danis ...
,
Norwegian Norwegian, Norwayan, or Norsk may refer to: *Something of, from, or related to Norway, a country in northwestern Europe *Norwegians, both a nation and an ethnic group native to Norway *Demographics of Norway *The Norwegian language, including the t ...
(
Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") is an official written standard for the Norwegian language Norwegian (Norwegian: ''norsk'') is a North Germanic languages, North Germanic language spoken mainly in Norway, where it is an official language. A ...
and
Nynorsk Nynorsk (translates to “Modern Norwegian”, literally “New Norwegian”) is one of the two written standards of the Norwegian language, the other being Bokmål. From 12 May 1885, it became the state-sanctioned version of Ivar Aasen's standa ...
),
Faroese Faroese ( ) or Faroish ( ) may refer to anything pertaining to the Faroe Islands, e.g.: *the Faroese language * the Faroese people {{Disambiguation Language and nationality disambiguation pages ...
,
Icelandic Icelandic refers to anything of, from, or related to Iceland and may refer to: *Icelandic people *Icelandic language *Icelandic alphabet *Icelandic cuisine See also

* Icelander (disambiguation) * Icelandic Airlines, a predecessor of Icelandai ...
, with many local dialects of those languages. The Continental North Germanic languages (Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian) are close enough and intelligible enough for some to consider them to be dialects of the same language, but the Insular ones (Icelandic and Faroese) are not immediately intelligible to the other North Germanic speakers.


Continental West Germanic continuum

Historically, the
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
,
Frisian Frisian usually refers to: *Frisia, a region on the western coasts of Germany and the Netherlands **Frisians, the medieval and modern ethnic group inhabiting Frisia ***Frisii, the ancient inhabitants of Frisia prior to 600 AD **Frisian languages, a ...
and
German dialects German dialects are the various traditional local varieties of the German language. Though varied by region, those of the southern half of Germany beneath the Benrath line are dominated by the geographical spread of the High German consonant sh ...
formed a canonical dialect continuum, which has been gradually falling apart since the
Late Middle Ages The Late Middle Ages or Late Medieval Period was the period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in musical comp ...
due to the pressures of modern education, standard languages, migration and weakening knowledge of the dialects. p. 54. The transition from German dialects to Dutch variants followed two basic routes: * From
Central German Central German (german: mitteldeutsche Dialekte, mitteldeutsche Mundarten, Mitteldeutsch) is a group of High German dialects spoken from the Rhineland in the west to the former eastern territories of Germany. Central German divides into two sub ...
to Southeastern Dutch (
Limburgish Limburgish ( li, Lèmburgs ; nl, Limburgs ; german: Limburgisch ; french: Limbourgeois ), also called Limburgan, Limburgian, or Limburgic, is a West Germanic language spoken in the Dutch and Belgian provinces of Limburg and in the neighbouri ...
) in the so-called Rhenish fan, an area corresponding largely to the modern Niederrhein in which gradual but geographically compact changes took place. * From Low Saxon to Northwestern Dutch (
Hollandic Hollandic or Hollandish ( ) is the most widely spoken dialect of the Dutch language Dutch is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language spoken by about 24 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, c ...
). This sub-continuum also included West Frisian dialects up until the 17th century, but faced external pressure from
Standard Dutch Dutch is a West Germanic language spoken by about 24 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, constituting the majority of people in the Netherlands The Netherlands ( nl, Nederland ), informally referre ...
and, after the collapse of the
Hanseatic League The Hanseatic League (; gml, Hanse, , ; german: label=German language, Modern German, Deutsche Hanse; nl, label=Dutch language, Dutch, De Hanze; la, Hansa Teutonica) was a Middle Ages, medieval commercial and defensive confederation of merchan ...
, from
Standard German Standard High German (SHG), less precisely Standard German or High German (not to be confused with High German The High German languages or High German dialects (german: hochdeutsche Mundarten) comprise the varieties of German spoken south ...
which greatly influenced the vocabularies of these border dialects. Though the internal dialect continua of both Dutch and German remain largely intact, the continuum which historically connected the Dutch, Frisian and German languages has largely disintegrated. Fragmentary areas of the Dutch-German border in which language change is more gradual than in other sections or a higher degree of
mutual intelligibility In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include p ...
is present still exist, such as the
Aachen Aachen ( ; Aachen dialect Aachen dialect (natively ''Öcher Platt'') is a dialect of Ripuarian Franconian spoken in the German Rhineland city of Aachen Aachen ( ; Aachen dialect: ''Oche'' ; French and traditional English: Aix-la-Chap ...

Aachen
-
Kerkrade Kerkrade ( Kerkrade dialect: ''Kirchroa''; german: Kerkrade or ''Kirchrath'') is a town A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages and smaller than city, cities, though the criteria to distinguish between th ...

Kerkrade
area, but the historical chain in which dialects were only divided by minor isoglosses and negligible differences in vocabulary has seen a rapid and ever-increasing decline since the 1850s.
Standard Dutch Dutch is a West Germanic language spoken by about 24 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, constituting the majority of people in the Netherlands The Netherlands ( nl, Nederland ), informally referre ...
(based on the dialects of the principal
Brabantic Brabantian or Brabantish, also Brabantic or Brabantine ( nl, Brabants, Standard Dutch pronunciation: , ), is a dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , , "discourse", from , , "through" and , , "I speak") is use ...
and
Hollandic Hollandic or Hollandish ( ) is the most widely spoken dialect of the Dutch language Dutch is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language spoken by about 24 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, c ...
cities) and
Standard German Standard High German (SHG), less precisely Standard German or High German (not to be confused with High German The High German languages or High German dialects (german: hochdeutsche Mundarten) comprise the varieties of German spoken south ...
(originating at the chanceries of
Meissen Meissen (in German orthography German orthography is the orthography An orthography is a set of conventions for writing Writing is a medium of human communication that involves the representation of a language with written symbols. ...
and
Vienna en, Viennese , iso_code = AT-9 , registration_plate = Vehicle registration plates of Austria, W , postal_code_type = Postal code , postal_code = , timezone ...

Vienna
) are not closely linked with regard to their ancestral dialects and hence do not show a high degree of
mutual intelligibility In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include p ...
when spoken and only partially so when written. One study concluded that when concerning written language, Dutch speakers could translate 50.2% of the provided German words correctly, while the German subjects were able to translate 41.9% of the Dutch equivalents correctly. In terms of orthography, 22% of the vocabulary of Dutch and German is identical or near-identical.


Anglic continuum

The Germanic dialects spoken on the island of Great Britain, which are usually called "English" in England and " Scots" in Scotland, are often mutually intelligible for large areas north and south of the border between England and Scotland. The
Orcadian dialect Orcadian dialect or Orcadian Scots is a dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , , "discourse", from , , "through" and , , "I speak") is used in two distinct ways to refer to two different types of Linguistics, lingu ...
of Scots is very different from the various dialects of
English in southern England English in southern England (also, rarely, Southern English English, or in the UK, simply, Southern English) is the collective set of different dialects and accents of the English spoken in Southern England Southern England, or the South ...
, but they are linked by a chain of intermediate steps.


Romance languages


Western Romance continuum

The western continuum of
Romance languages The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin is a range of informal sociolects of Latin Latin (, or , ) ...

Romance languages
comprises, from West to East: in Portugal,
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
; in Spain,
GalicianGalician may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Galicia (Spain) ** Galician language ** Galician people ** Gallaeci, a large Celtic tribal federation who inhabited Gallaecia (currently Galicia (Spain) * Something of, from, or related to ...
, Leonese or Asturian, Castilian or
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
,
Aragonese Aragonese or Aragones may refer to: * Something related to Aragon, an autonomous community and former kingdom in Spain * the Aragonese people, those originating from or living in the historical region of Aragon, in north-eastern Spain * the Aragone ...
and
Catalan Catalan may refer to: Catalonia From, or related to Catalonia: * Catalan language, a Romance language * Catalans, an ethnic group formed by the people from, or with origins in, Catalonia * Països Catalans, territories where Catalan is spoken * Ca ...
or
Valencian Valencian () or Valencian language () is the official, historical and traditional name used in the Valencian Community The Valencian Community ( ca-valencia, Comunitat Valenciana, es, Comunidad Valenciana), or simply Valencia ( ca-valencia, ...
; in France,
Occitan Occitan (; oc, occitan, link=no ,), also known as ''lenga d'òc'' (; french: langue d'oc) by its native speakers, is a Romance languages, Romance language (or branch of numerous of these) spoken in Southern France, Monaco, Italy's Occitan Vall ...
,
Franco-Provençal Franco-Provençal (also Francoprovençal, Patois, Gaga, Savoyard, Arpitan or Romand) is a dialect group within Gallo-Romance The Gallo-Romance branch of the Romance languages The Romance languages (less commonly Latin languages, or Neo-La ...
, standard
French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consistin ...

French
and
CorsicanCorsican may refer to: *Someone or something from Corsica *Corsicans, inhabitants of Corsica *Corsican language, a Romance language spoken on Corsica and northern Sardinia *Corsican Republic, a former country in Europe *"The Corsicans", the original ...
which is closely related to Italian; in Italy,
Piedmontese Piedmontese (autonym: or , in it, piemontese) is a language spoken by some 700,000 people mostly in Piedmont it, Piemontese , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 ...
,
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...

Italian
,
Lombard The term Lombard refers to members of or things related to Lombardy (man) it, Lombarda (woman) lmo, Lombard (man) lmo, Lombarda (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 ...

Lombard
,
Emilian-Romagnol Emilian-Romagnol (''emiliân-rumagnōl'' or ''längua emiglièna-rumagnôla''), also known as Emiliano-Romagnolo, is an obsolete linguistic classification given to two distinct Gallo-Italic languages, Gallo-Italic language languages: Emilian and R ...
, Venetian, Friulian, Ladin; and in Switzerland,
Lombard The term Lombard refers to members of or things related to Lombardy (man) it, Lombarda (woman) lmo, Lombard (man) lmo, Lombarda (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 ...

Lombard
and Romansh. This continuum is sometimes presented as another example, but the major languages in the group (i.e. Portuguese, Spanish, French and Italian) have had separate
standards Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal identification Norm, convention or requirement * Standard (metrology), an object that bears a defined relationship to a unit of ...
for longer than the languages in the Continental West Germanic group, and so are not commonly classified as
dialect The term dialect (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...
s of a common language. Focusing instead on the local Romance lects that pre-existed the establishment of national or regional standard languages, all evidence and principles point to ''Romania continua'' as having been, and to varying extents in some areas still being, what
Charles Hockett Charles Francis Hockett (January 17, 1916 – November 3, 2000) was an American linguist who developed many influential ideas in American structuralism#Structuralism in linguistics, structuralist linguistics. He represents the post-Leonard Bloomfie ...
called an L-complex, i.e. an unbroken chain of local differentiation such that, in principle and with appropriate caveats, intelligibility (due to sharing of features) attenuates with distance. This is perhaps most evident today in Italy, where, especially in rural and small-town contexts, local Romance is still often employed at home and work, and geolinguistic distinctions are such that while native speakers from any two nearby towns can understand each other with ease, they can also spot from linguistic features that the other is from elsewhere. In recent centuries, the intermediate dialects between the major Romance languages have been moving toward
extinction Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells (cell theory). Organisms are classified by ...
, as their speakers have switched to varieties closer to the more prestigious national standards. That has been most notable in France, owing to the French government's refusal to recognise minority languages, but it has occurred to some extent in all Western Romance speaking countries. Language change has also threatened the survival of stateless languages with existing literary standards, such as Occitan. The Romance
languages of Italy The languages of Italy are Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** ...
are a less arguable example of a dialect continuum. For many decades since Italy's unification, the attitude of the French government towards the ethnolinguistic minorities was copied by the Italian government.


Eastern Romance continuum

The eastern Romance continuum is dominated by
Romanian Romanian may refer to: *anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern Europe, Eastern and Southeast Europe, Southeastern Euro ...
. Outside Romania and Moldova, across the other south-east European countries, various Romanian language groups are to be found: pockets of various Romanian and Aromanian subgroups survive throughout
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria,, ) is a country in Southeast Europe. It occupies the whole eastern part of the Balkans, and is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedonia ...

Bulgaria
,
Serbia Serbia (, ; sr, Србија, Srbija, ),, * cs, Srbsko, * ro, Serbia * rue, Сербия *german: Serbien *french: Serbie * uk, Сербія * hu, Szerbia * bg, Сърбия * sq, Serbia * bs, Srbija * officially the Republic of Serbia,, ...

Serbia
,
North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia before February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe ...
,
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A contin ...

Greece
,
Albania Albania ( ; sq, Shqipëri or Shqipëria), officially the Republic of Albania ( sq, Republika e Shqipërisë), is a country in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is ...

Albania
and
Croatia :* french: link=no, République de Croatie :* hu, Horvát Köztársaság :* it, Repubblica di Croazia :* rue, Републіка Хорватія :* sr, Република Хрватска :* sk, Chorvátska republika :* sl, Republika H ...

Croatia
(in
Istria Istria ( ; Croatian Croatian may refer to: *Croatia *Croatian cuisine *Croatian language *Croatian name *Croats, people from Croatia, or of Croatian descent *Citizens of Croatia, see demographics of Croatia See also * Croatia (disambiguation) ...

Istria
).


Slavic languages

Conventionally, on the basis of extralinguistic features (such as writing systems or the former western frontier of the Soviet Union), the North Slavic continuum is split into East and West Slavic continua. From the perspective of linguistic features alone, only two Slavic (dialect) continua can be distinguished, namely, North and South.


North Slavic continuum

The North Slavic continuum covers the
East Slavic East Slavic may refer to: * East Slavic languages, one of three branches of the Slavic languages * East Slavs, a subgroup of Slavic peoples who speak the East Slavic languages See also

* Old East Slavic, a language used during the 10th–15th ...
and
West Slavic languages The West Slavic languages are a subdivision of the Slavic language group. They include Polish, Czech, Slovak, Kashubian, Upper Sorbian and Lower Sorbian. The languages are spoken across a continuous region encompassing the Czech Republic ...
. East Slavic includes
Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (россияне), Russian language term ...
,
Belarusian Belarusian may refer to: * Something of, or related to Belarus * Belarusians, people from Belarus, or of Belarusian descent * A citizen of Belarus, see Demographics of Belarus * Belarusian language * Belarusian culture * Belarusian cuisine * Byeloru ...
, Rusyn and
Ukrainian Ukrainian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Ukraine * Something relating to Ukrainians an East Slavic people from Eastern Europe * Something relating to Demographics of Ukraine, in terms of demography: population of Ukraine * Somethi ...
; West Slavic languages of
Czech Czech may refer to: * Anything from or related to the Czech Republic The Czech Republic (; cs, Česká republika ), also known by its short-form name, Czechia (; cz, Česko ), is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Au ...
,
Polish Polish may refer to: * Anything from or related to Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Pol ...
,
Slovak Slovak may refer to: * Something from, related to, or belonging to Slovakia (''Slovenská republika'') * Slovaks, a Western Slavic ethnic group * Slovak language, an Indo-European language that belongs to the West Slavic languages * Slovak, Arkans ...
, Silesian, Kashubian, and Upper and
Lower Sorbian Lower may refer to: *Lower (surname)Lower is a surname. Notable people with the surname include: * Arthur R. M. Lower (1889–1988) Canadian historian * Britt Lower (born 1985), American actress * Cyrus B. Lower (1843–1924), American Civil War ...
. Ukrainian dialects and to a lesser degree Belarusian have in been influenced by neighbouring Polish, due to the historical ties with the
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, formally known as the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and, after 1791, the Commonwealth of Poland, was a country and bi-federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is ...
.


South Slavic continuum

All South Slavic languages form a dialect continuum. It comprises, from West to East,
Slovenia Slovenia ( ; sl, Slovenija ), officially the Republic of Slovenia (Slovene: , abbr.: ''RS''), is a country in Central Europe Central Europe is the central region of Europe. Central Europe includes contiguous territories that are sometimes ...

Slovenia
,
Croatia :* french: link=no, République de Croatie :* hu, Horvát Köztársaság :* it, Repubblica di Croazia :* rue, Републіка Хорватія :* sr, Република Хрватска :* sk, Chorvátska republika :* sl, Republika H ...

Croatia
,
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina,, abbreviated BiH or B&H, sometimes called Bosnia–Herzegovina and Pars pro toto#Geography, often known informally as Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, South and Southeast Europe, located within the Balkans. Sar ...

Bosnia and Herzegovina
,
Montenegro Montenegro (; cnr, Црна Гора, Crna Gora, lit. "Black Mountain", ) is a country in Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is o ...

Montenegro
,
Serbia Serbia (, ; sr, Србија, Srbija, ),, * cs, Srbsko, * ro, Serbia * rue, Сербия *german: Serbien *french: Serbie * uk, Сербія * hu, Szerbia * bg, Сърбия * sq, Serbia * bs, Srbija * officially the Republic of Serbia,, ...

Serbia
,
North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia before February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe ...
, and
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria,, ) is a country in Southeast Europe. It occupies the whole eastern part of the Balkans, and is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedonia ...

Bulgaria
. Standard
Slovene Slovene or Slovenian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Slovenia, a country in Central Europe * Slovene language, a South Slavic language mainly spoken in Slovenia * Slovenes, an ethno-linguistic group mainly living in Slovenia * Sla ...
,
Macedonian Macedonian most often refers to someone or something from or related to Macedonia (disambiguation), Macedonia. Macedonian may specifically refer to: People Modern * Macedonians (ethnic group), the South Slavic ethnic group primarily associated w ...
, and
Bulgarian Bulgarian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Bulgaria * Bulgarians, a South Slavic ethnic group * Bulgarian language, a Slavic language * Bulgarian alphabet * A citizen of Bulgaria, see Demographics of Bulgaria * Bulg ...

Bulgarian
are each based on a distinct dialect, but the Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian
standard varieties A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety In sociolinguistics, a variety, also called an isolect or lect, is a specific form of a language or language cluster. This may include language ...
of the pluricentric
Serbo-Croatian language Serbo-Croatian () – also called Serbo-Croat (), Serbo-Croat-Bosnian (SCB), Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian (BCS), and Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian (BCMS) – is a South Slavic language The South Slavic languages are one of three branches ...
are all based on the same dialect,
Shtokavian Shtokavian or Štokavian (; sh, / , ) is the prestige dialect of the pluricentric Serbo-Croatian language and the basis of its Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin standards. It is a part of the South Slavic dialect continuum. Its ...
. Therefore,
Croats Croats (; hr, Hrvati, ), also known as Croatians, are a nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common language, history, ethnicity, or a common culture, and, in many cases, a shared territory. A nation is more over ...

Croats
,
Serbs Serbs ( sr-Cyr, Срби, Srbi, ) are a South Slavic ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups such as a comm ...
,
Bosniaks The Bosniaks or Bosniacs ( bs, Bošnjaci, ; , ) are a South Slavs, South Slavic nation and ethnic group native to the Southeast European historical region of Bosnia (region), Bosnia, which is today part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. A native m ...
and
Montenegrins Montenegrins (Montenegrin language, Montenegrin and Serbian language, Serbian: Crnogorci / Црногорци, or ; literal translation, lit. "Black Mountain People") are a South Slavs, South Slavic ethnic group native to Montenegro. Genetic orig ...
communicate fluently with each other in their respective standardized varieties. In
Croatia :* french: link=no, République de Croatie :* hu, Horvát Köztársaság :* it, Repubblica di Croazia :* rue, Републіка Хорватія :* sr, Република Хрватска :* sk, Chorvátska republika :* sl, Republika H ...

Croatia
, native speakers of Shtokavian may struggle to understand distinct
Kajkavian Kajkavian (Kajkavian noun: ''kajkavščina''; Shtokavian adjective: ''kajkavski'' , noun: ''kajkavica'' or ''kajkavština'' ) is a South Slavic languages, South Slavic regiolect or language spoken primarily by Croats in much of Central Croatia, G ...
or
Chakavian Chakavian or Čakavian (, , , sh-Latn, čakavski proper name: or own name: ''čokovski, čakavski, čekavski'') is a South Slavic regiolect or language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speec ...

Chakavian
dialects, as might the speakers of the two with each other. Likewise in
Serbia Serbia (, ; sr, Србија, Srbija, ),, * cs, Srbsko, * ro, Serbia * rue, Сербия *german: Serbien *french: Serbie * uk, Сербія * hu, Szerbia * bg, Сърбия * sq, Serbia * bs, Srbija * officially the Republic of Serbia,, ...

Serbia
, the
Torlakian Torlakian, or Torlak ( sh, / , ; bg, Торлашки, Torlashki; mk, Торлачки, Torlački), is a group of South Slavic dialects of southeastern Serbia Serbia (, ; sr, Србија, Srbija, ),, * cs, Srbsko, * ro, Serbia * ...
dialect differs significantly from Standard Serbian. Serbian is a Western South Slavic standard, but Torlakian is largely transitional with the Eastern South Slavic languages (Bulgarian and Macedonian). Collectively, the Torlakian dialects with Macedonian and Bulgarian share many grammatical features that set them apart from all other Slavic languages, such as the complete loss of its
grammatical case Grammatical case is a linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguist ...
systems and adoption of features more commonly found among
analytic languages In linguistic typology Linguistic typology (or language typology) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for ...
. The barrier between ''East South Slavic'' and ''West South Slavic'' is historical and natural, caused primarily by a one-time geographical distance between speakers. The two varieties started diverging early on (circa 11th century CE) and evolved separately ever since without major mutual influence, as evidenced by distinguishable
Old Bulgarian Old Church Slavonic or Old Slavonic () was the first Slavic literary language A literary language is the form of a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Si ...
, while the western dialect of common Old Slavic was still spoken across the modern Serbo-Croatian area in the 12th and early 13th centuries. An intermediate dialect linking western and eastern variations inevitably came into existence over time –
Torlakian Torlakian, or Torlak ( sh, / , ; bg, Торлашки, Torlashki; mk, Торлачки, Torlački), is a group of South Slavic dialects of southeastern Serbia Serbia (, ; sr, Србија, Srbija, ),, * cs, Srbsko, * ro, Serbia * ...
– spoken across a wide radius on which the tripoint of
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria,, ) is a country in Southeast Europe. It occupies the whole eastern part of the Balkans, and is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedonia ...

Bulgaria
,
North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia before February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe ...
and
Serbia Serbia (, ; sr, Србија, Srbija, ),, * cs, Srbsko, * ro, Serbia * rue, Сербия *german: Serbien *french: Serbie * uk, Сербія * hu, Szerbia * bg, Сърбия * sq, Serbia * bs, Srbija * officially the Republic of Serbia,, ...

Serbia
is relatively pivotal.


Uralic languages

The other major language family in Europe besides Indo-European are the
Uralic languages The Uralic languages (; sometimes called Uralian languages ) form a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writin ...

Uralic languages
. The
Sami languages Places * Sápmi (, smj, Sábme / Sámeednam, sma, Saepmie, sju, Sábmie, , ) is the cultural region traditionally inhabited by the Sámi people. Sápmi is in Northern Europe Northern Europe is a loosely defined Geography, geographic ...

Sami languages
, sometimes mistaken for a single language, are a dialect continuum, albeit with some disconnections like between
North North is one of the four compass points or cardinal directions. It is the opposite of south and is perpendicular to East and West. ''North'' is a noun, adjective, or adverb indicating Direction (geometry), direction or geography. Etymology The ...
, Skolt Sami language, Skolt and Inari Sami language, Inari Sami. The Baltic-Finnic languages spoken around the Gulf of Finland form a dialect continuum. Thus, although Finnish language, Finnish and Estonian language, Estonian are separate languages, there is no definite linguistic border or isogloss that separates them. This is now more difficult to recognize because many of the intervening languages have declined or become extinct.


Celtic languages

Historically, two Celtic dialect continuums existed in North-West Europe. These chains of dialects have been broken in several places due to language death but several continue to be mutually intelligible.


Goidelic continuum

The Goidelic languages consist of Irish language, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Scottish and Manx language, Manx. Prior to the 19th and 20th centuries, the continuum existed throughout Ireland, the Isle of Mann and Scotland. Many intermediate dialects have become extinct or have died out leaving major gaps between languages such as in the islands of Rathlin, Isle of Arran, Arran or Kintyre and also in the Counties of Ireland, Irish counties or County Antrim, Antrim, County Londonderry, Londonderry and County Down, Down. The current Goidelic speaking areas of Ireland are also separated by extinct dialects but remain mutually intelligible.


Brythonic continuum

The Brythonic languages consist of Breton language, Breton, Cornish language, Cornish, Welsh language, Welsh and Cumbric. Cumbric went extinct in the medieval era, while Cornish died out in the 18th century but has since been revived.


Middle East


Arabic

Arabic is a standard case of diglossia. The standard written language, Modern Standard Arabic, is based on the Classical Arabic of the Qur'an, while the Varieties of Arabic, modern vernacular dialects (or languages) branched from ancient Arabic dialects, from North Western Africa through Egypt, Sudan, and the Fertile Crescent to the Arabian Peninsula and Iraq. The dialects use different analogues from the Arabic language inventory and have been influenced by different substrate and superstrate languages. Adjacent dialects are mutually understandable to a large extent, but those from distant regions are more difficult to be understood. The difference between the written standard and the vernaculars is apparent also in the written language, and children have to be taught Modern Standard Arabic in school to be able to read it.


Assyrian Neo-Aramaic

In Assyrian Neo-Aramaic the continuum starts from the Assyrian tribes in northern Iraq (Alqosh, Batnaya), which are at times considered part of the Chaldean Neo-Aramaic language. Nearing the northern Iraqi-Turkey border, the Barwari, Barwar and Tyari dialects would begin to sound "traditionally Assyrian". The Barwar and Tyari dialects are "transitional", having both Chaldean and Assyrian phonetic features. In Hakkari (historical region), Hakkari, as one goes eastbound towards Iran, the Gawar, Baz, Turkey, Baz, Jilu and Nochiya Tribe, Nochiya dialects would respectively begin to sound slightly distinct to the Tyari/Barwar dialects in the west and more like the prestigious "Urmian" dialect in Urmia, West Azerbaijan Province, Western Azerbaijan, which is considered the ''Standard Assyrian'' dialect, alongside the ''Iraqi Koine''. The dialects in northern Iraq (or "far west" in this continuum), such as those of ''Alqosh'' and ''Batnaya'', would not be completely intelligible to those in Western Iran ("far east") even if the same language is spoken. Going further westward, the "dialect" of Tur Abdin in Turkey, known as Turoyo, has a very distinct pronunciation of words and a different vocabulary to some extent. Turoyo is usually considered to be a discrete language rather than a mere dialect of Assyrian Neo-Aramaic. Finally, both Assyrian and Turoyo are considered to be dialects of the Syriac language.


Kurdish

The Kurdish language considered as a dialect continuum of many varieties and the three main varieties are Northern Kurdish (Kurmanji), Central Kurdish (Sorani), and Southern Kurdish (Xwarîn).


Persian

The Persian language in its various varieties (Tajik language, Tajiki and Dari language, Dari), is representative of a dialect continuum. The divergence of Tajik was accelerated by the shift from the Perso-Arabic alphabet to a Cyrillic one under the Soviets. Western dialects of Persian show greater influence from Arabic and Oghuz Turkic languages, but Dari and Tajik tend to preserve many classical features in grammar and Vocabulary. Also Tat language (Caucasus), Tat language, a dialect of Persian, is spoken in Azerbaijan.


Turkic

Turkic languages are best described as a dialect continuum. Geographically this continuum starts at the Balkans in the west with Balkan Gagauz Turkish language, Balkan Turkish, includes Turkish language, Turkish in Turkey and Azerbaijani language in Azerbaijan, extends into Iran with Azerbaijani language, Azeri and Turkic Khalaj language, Khalaj, into Iraq with Turkmen language, Turkmen, across Central Asia to include Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, to southern Regions of Tajikistan and into Afghanistan. In the south, the continuum starts in northern Afghanistan, northward to the Chuvashia Republic, Chuvashia. In the east it extends to the Republic of Tuva, the Xinjiang autonomous region in Western China with the Uyghur language and into Mongolia with Khoton. The entire territory is inhabited by Turkic speaking peoples. There are three varieties of Turkic geographically outside the continuum: Chuvash language, Chuvash, Sakha language, Yakut and Dolgan language, Dolgan. They have been geographically separated from the other Turkic languages for an extensive period of time, and Chuvash language stands out as the most divergent from other Turkic languages. There are also Gagauz language, Gagauz speakers in Moldavia and Urum language, Urum speakers in Georgia (country), Georgia. The Turkic continuum makes internal genetic classification of the languages problematic. Chuvash language, Chuvash, Khalaj and Sakha language, Yakut are generally classified as significantly distinct, but the remaining Turkic languages are quite similar, with a high degree of mutual intelligibility between not only geographically adjacent varieties but also among some varieties some distance apart. Structurally, the Turkic languages are very close to one another, and they share basic features such as Subject–object–verb, SOV word order, vowel harmony and agglutination.


Indo-Aryan languages

Many of the
Indo-Aryan languages The Indo-Aryan or Indic languages form a major language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages h ...
of the Indian subcontinent form a dialect continuum. What is called "
Hindi Hindi ( Devanagari: हिन्दी, IAST/ ISO 15919: ''Hindī''), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi ( Devanagari: मानक हिन्दी, IAST/ ISO 15919: ''Mānak Hindī''), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in ...

Hindi
" in India is frequently Standard Hindi, the Sanskritized register of the colloquial Hindustani language, Hindustani spoken in the Delhi area, the other register being
Urdu Urdu (; ur, , ALA-LC: ) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The region consists of the c ...

Urdu
. However, the term Hindi is also used for the different dialects from Bihar to Rajasthan and, more widely, some of the Eastern and Northern dialects are sometimes grouped under Hindi. The Indo-Aryan Prakrits also gave rise to languages like Gujarati language, Gujarati, Assamese language, Assamese, Maithili language, Maithili, Bengali language, Bengali, Odia language, Odia, Nepali language, Nepali, Marathi language, Marathi, Konkani language, Konkani and Punjabi language, Punjabi.


Chinese

Chinese consists of hundreds of local varieties, many of which are not mutual intelligibility, mutually intelligible. p. 72. The differences are similar to those within the
Romance languages The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin is a range of informal sociolects of Latin Latin (, or , ) ...

Romance languages
, which are similarly descended from a language spread by imperial expansion over substrate languages 2000 years ago. Unlike Europe, however, Chinese political unity was restored in the late 6th century and has persisted (with interludes of division) until the present day. There are no equivalents of the local standard literary languages that developed in the numerous independent states of Europe. Chinese dialectologists have divided the local varieties into a number of dialect groups, largely based on phonological developments in comparison with Middle Chinese. Most of these groups are found in the rugged terrain of the southeast, reflecting the greater variation in this area, particularly in Fujian. Each of these groups contains numerous mutually unintelligible varieties. Moreover, in many cases the transitions between groups are smooth, as a result of centuries of interaction and multilingualism. The boundaries between the northern Mandarin Chinese, Mandarin area and the central groups, Wu Chinese, Wu, Gan Chinese, Gan and Xiang Chinese, Xiang, are particularly weak, due to the steady flow of northern features into these areas. Transitional varieties between the Wu, Gan and Mandarin groups have been variously classified, with some scholars assigning them to a separate Huizhou Chinese, Hui group. The boundaries between Gan, Hakka Chinese, Hakka and Min Chinese, Min are similarly indistinct. Pinghua and Yue Chinese, Yue form a dialect continuum (excluding urban enclaves of Cantonese). There are sharper boundaries resulting from more recent expansion between Hakka and Yue, and between Southwestern Mandarin and Yue, but even here there has been considerable convergence in contact areas.


Cree and Ojibwa

Cree language, Cree is a group of closely related Algonquian languages that are distributed from Alberta to Labrador in Canada. They form the Cree-Montagnais-Naskapi dialect continuum, with around 117,410 speakers. The languages can be roughly classified into nine groups, from west to east: * Plains Cree language, Plains Cree (y-dialect) * Woods Cree or Woods/Rocky Cree (ð-dialect) * Swampy Cree (n-dialect) ** Eastern Swampy Cree ** Western Swampy Cree * Moose Cree (l-dialect) * East Cree or James Bay Cree (y-dialect) ** Northern East Cree ** Southern East Cree * Atikamekw language, Atikamekw (r-dialect) * Western Montagnais (l-dialect) * Innu language, Innu-aimun or Eastern Montagnais (n-dialect) * Naskapi language, Naskapi (y-dialect) Various Cree languages are used as languages of instruction and taught as subjects: Plains Cree, Eastern Cree, Montagnais, etc. Mutual intelligibility between some dialects can be low. There is no accepted standard dialect. Ojibwe language, Ojibwa (Chippewa) is a group of closely related Algonquian languages in Canada, which is distributed from British Columbia to Quebec, and the United States, distributed from Montana to Michigan, with diaspora communities in Kansas and Oklahoma. With Cree, the Ojibwe language, Ojibwe dialect continuum forms its own continuum, but the Oji-Cree language of this continuum joins the Cree–Montagnais–Naskapi dialect continuum through Swampy Cree language, Swampy Cree. The Ojibwe continuum has 70,606 speakers. Roughly from northwest to southeast, it has these dialects: * Ojibwa-Ottawa ** Algonquin language, Algonquin ** Oji-Cree language, Oji-Cree (Northern Ojibwa) or Severn ** Ojibwa *** Western Ojibwa language, Western Ojibwa or Saulteaux *** Chippewa language, Chippewa (Southwestern Ojibwa) *** Northwestern Ojibwa *** Central Ojibwa language, Central Ojibwa or Nipissing *** Eastern Ojibwa language, Eastern Ojibwa or Mississauga ** Ottawa dialect, Ottawa (Southeastern Ojibwa) * Potawatomi language, Potawatomi Unlike the Cree–Montagnais–Naskapi dialect continuum, with distinct n/y/l/r/ð dialect characteristics and noticeable west-east k/č(ch) axis, the Ojibwe continuum is marked with Syncope (phonetics), vowel syncope along the west-east axis and ∅/n along the north-south axis.


See also

* Dialect levelling * Dialectometry * Diasystem * Diglossia * Koine language * Language secessionism * Post-creole speech continuum


Notes


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:Dialect Continuum Dialects Comparative linguistics Dialectology Language geography