Pop vs Soda
What Patterns can you
identify? Why do they
Why geographers study language
Provides the single most common variable
by which cultural groups are identified
Provides the main means by which learned
customs and skills pass from one
generation to the next
Facilitates cultural diffusion of innovations
Because languages vary spatially, they
reinforce the sense of region and place
Study of language called linguistic
geography and geolinguistics by
Terms used in the study of language
Language — tongues that cannot be
mutually understood
Dialects — variant forms of a language that
have not lost mutual comprehension
A speaker of English can understand the
various dialect of the language
A dialect is distinctive enough in vocabulary
and pronunciation to label its speaker
Some 6,000 languages and many more
dialects are spoken today
Terms used in the study of language
Pidgin language — results when different
linguistic groups come into contact
Serves the purposes of commerce
Has a small vocabulary derived from the
various contact groups
Speakers of different languages need to
communicate but don't share a common
Official language of Papua, New Guinea is a
largely English-derived pidgin language, which
includes Spanish, German, and Papuan words
Terms used in the study of language
Lingua franca — a language that spreads
over a wide area where it is not the mother
A language of communication and commerce
Swahili language has this status in much of
East Africa
English is Lingua franca of international
business world-wide
Kenya has two official
languages: Swahili and
English. These lingua
franca facilitate
communication among
Bantu, Nilotic, and
Cushitic language
Swahili developed along
the coast of East Africa
where Bantu came in
contact with Arabic spoken
by Arab sea traders.
English became
important during the
British colonial period
and is still associated
with high status.
This shopping center
caters to Maasai
herders who speak a
Nilotic language and
Kikuyu farmers who
speak a Bantu
Jambo means “hello”
in Swahili.->
On your
copy outline
with hi-liter
that speak
On the left page of
your notebook
language map of
Africa- Color the
countries the
following colors
French- Blue
English - Red
Portuguese- Yellow
Italian- Green,
Spanish - Orange -
The Mosaic of Languages
Linguistic Culture Regions
Linguistic Diffusion
Linguistic Ecology
Culturo-Linguistic Integration
Linguistic Landscapes
Language characteristics used to
define linguistic culture regions
isoglosses — borders of individual
word usages or pronunciations
No two words, phrases, or
pronunciations have exactly the same
spatial distribution
Spatially isoglosses crisscross one
Typically cluster together in “bundles”
Bundles serve as the most satisfactory
dividing lines among dialects and
English dialects in the United States
Dialects reveal a vivid geography
American English is hardly uniform from
region to region
At least three major dialects, corresponding
to major culture regions, developed in the
eastern United States by the time of the
American Revolution
Dialect Activity http://polyglot.lss.wisc.edu/dare/Audio.html
English dialects in the United States
The three subcultures expanded
westward and their dialects spread
and fragmented
Retained much of their basic character
even beyond the Mississippi River
Have distinctive vocabularies and
Drawing dialect boundaries is often
English dialects in the United States
Today, many regional words are becoming
old-fashioned, but new words display
regional variations
The following words are all used to
describe a controlled-access divided
Freeway — a California word
Turnpike and parkway — mainly northeastern
and Midwestern words
Thruway, expressway, and interstate
English dialects in the United States
Many African-Americans speak their own
form of English — Black English
Once dismissed as inferior substandard English
Grew out of a pidgin that developed on early
slave plantations
Today, spoken by about 80 percent of AfricanAmericans
Used by ghetto dwellers who have not made
their compromises with mainstream American
Many features separate it from standard
speech, for example:
Lack of pronoun differentiation between genders
Use of undifferentiated pronouns
English dialects in the United States
Many African-Americans speak their own
form of English — Black English
Not recognized as part of the proper grammar
of a separate linguistic group
Considered evidence of verbal inability or
In the Southern dialect, African-Americans have
made substantial contributions to speech
Southern dialect is becoming increasingly
identified with African-Americans
Caucasians in the Southern region are shifting
to Midland speech
English dialects in the United States
American dialects suggest we are not
becoming a more national culture by
overwhelming regional cultures
Linguistic divergence is still under way
Dialects continue to mutate on a regional
Local variations in grammar and
pronunciation proliferate
The homogenizing influence of radio,
television, and other mass media is
being defied
London, England
London, England
While English is spoken
in many parts of the
world, all English words
are not mutually
This London tube
(subway) sign say that
anyone performing there
(eg singing or playing
for money) is subject to
a fine of subsection.
Are tubes, subway, and
busking dialect words?
The Mosaic of Languages
Linguistic Culture Regions
Linguistic Diffusion
Linguistic Ecology
Culturo-Linguistic Integration
Linguistic Landscapes
Indo-European diffusion
Earliest speakers apparently lived in
southern and southeastern Turkey
(Anatolia) about eight or nine
thousand years ago
Diffused west and north into Europe
Represented expansion of farming
people at expense of hunters and
As people dispersed and lost contact,
different variant forms of the language
caused fragmentation of the family
Indo-European diffusion
Later language diffusion occurred with the
spread of great political empires, especially
Latin, English, and Russian
Relocation and expansion diffusion were
not mutually exclusive
Relocation diffusion by conquering elite
implanted their language
Implanted language often gained wider
acceptance by expansion diffusion
Conqueror’s language spread hierarchically
Spread of Latin with Roman conquests
Spanish in Latin America
Austronesian diffusion
Presumed hearth in the interior of
Southeast Asia 5,000 years ago
Initially spread southward into the Malay
In a process lasting several thousand
years, people sailed in tiny boats across
the. uncharted vast seas to New Zealand,
Easter Island, Hawaii, and Madagascar
Sailing and navigation was the key to
Austronesian spread, not agriculture
Austronesian diffusion
The remarkable diffusion of the Polynesian
Form the eastern part of the Austronesian culture region
Occupy hundreds of Pacific islands in a triangularshaped realm
New Zealand, Easter Island, and Hawaii form the three
apexes of the realm
Made a watery leap of 2,500 miles from the South Pacific
to Hawaii
Used outrigger canoes
Went against prevailing winds into a new hemisphere with
different navigational stars
No humans had previously found the isolated Hawaiian
Sailors had no way of knowing that land existed in the area
Austronesian diffusion
Geographers John Webb and Gerard Ward
studied the prehistoric Polynesian diffusion
Their method involved the development of a
computer model building in data on:
Ocean currents
Vessel traits and capabilities
Island visibility
Duration of voyage, etc.
Both drift and navigated voyages were considered
Austronesian diffusion
Over one hundred thousand voyage
simulations were run through the computer
Their conclusions
Triangle was probably entered from the west—
direction of the ancient Austronesian hearth
“Island hopping”—migrated from one visible
island to another
Core of eastern Polynesia likely reached by
navigated voyages
Outer arc from Hawaii through Easter Island to
New Zealand reached by intentionally
navigated voyages
Searching for the primordial tongue
Using controversial techniques,
linguists seek the more elusive
prehistoric tongues
Nostratic—ancestral speech of the
Middle East 12,000 to 20,000 years
Ancestral to nine modern language
A 500-word dictionary has been
Contemporary with Nostratic were
Searching for the primordial tongue
Dene-Caucasian reputedly gave rise
to Sino-Tibetan, Basque, and one
form of early Native-American called
Scholars are attempting to find the
original linguistic hearth area from
which all modern languages have
It is believed the original language
hearth arose in Africa perhaps
250,000 years ago and diffused from
The Mosaic of Languages
Linguistic Culture Regions
Linguistic Diffusion
Linguistic Ecology
Culturo-Linguistic Integration
Linguistic Landscapes
The environment and vocabulary
How the environment affects vocabulary
Spanish language derived from Castile
Rich in words describing rough terrain (Table
Distinguishes subtle differences in shape and
configuration of mountains
Scottish Gaelic
Describes types of rough terrain
Common attribute spoken by hill people
Romanian tongue
Also from a region of rugged terrain
Words tend to be keyed to use of terrain for
livestock herding
The environment and vocabulary
Developed in wet coastal plains
Very poor in words describing
mountainous terrain
Abounds with words describing flowing
Rural American South—river, creek,
branch, fork, prong, run, bayou, and
The environment and vocabulary
Vocabularies develop for features of
the environment that involve
Detailed vocabularies are necessary
to communicate sophisticated
information relevant to the adaptive
The environment provides refuge
Inhospitable environments offer protection and
Provide outnumbered linguistic groups refuge from
aggressive neighbors
Linguistic refuge areas
Rugged bill and mountain areas
Excessively cold or dry climates
Impenetrable forests and remote islands
Extensive marshes and swamps
Unpleasant environments rarely attract conquerors
Mountains tend to isolate inhabitants of one valley
from another
Examples of linguistic refuge areas
Rugged Caucasus Mountains and nearby
ranges in central Eurasia are populated by
a large variety of peoples
Alps, Himalayas, and highlands of Mexico
are linguistic shatter belts — areas where
diverse languages are spoken
American Indian tongue Quechua clings to
a refuge in the Andes Mountains of South
In the Rocky Mountains of northern New
Mexico, an archaic form of Spanish
survives due to isolation that ended in the
early 1900s
Examples of linguistic refuge areas
The Dhofar, a mountain tribe in
Oman, preserve Hamitic speech that
otherwise has vanished from Asia
Tundra climates of the far north have
sheltered certain Uralic, Altaic, and
Inukitut (Eskimo) speakers
On Sea Islands, off the coast of South
Carolina and Georgia, some remnant
of an African language, Gullah, still
are spoken
Switzerland has
four recognized
national languages:
French, German,
Italian, and
Romansch, a
language of Latin
origin, is spoken by
only 1.1% of the
Nevertheless, it
has survived in the
alpine linguistic
refuge of the upper
Rhine and Inn
Rivers and was
given official
recognition in
This traditional
Engadine (Inn
valley) house is
decorated by
sgraffito whereby
designs are
scratched through
a white limewash
coating to expose
the underlying grey
Linguistic Ecology
Today environmental isolation is no
longer the linguistic force it once was
Inhospitable lands and islands are
reachable by airplanes
Marshes and forests are being
drained and cleared by farmers
The world is interactive
The environment guides migration
Migrants were often attracted to new lands
that seemed environmentally similar to
their homelands
They could pursue adaptive strategies known to
Germanic Indo-Europeans chose familiar
temperate zones in America, New Zealand, and
Semitic peoples rarely spread outside arid and
semiarid climates
Ancestors of modern Hungarians left
grasslands of inner Eurasia for new homes in
the grassy Alföld, one of the few prairie areas of
The environment guides migration
Environmental barriers and natural
routeways guided linguistic groups along
certain paths
Indo-Europeans traveled through low
mountain passes to the Indian
subcontinent, avoiding the Himalayas and
barren Deccan Plateau
In India today, the IndoEuropean/Dravidian language boundary
seems to approximate an ecological
The environment guides migration
Mountain barriers frequently serve as
linguistic borders
In part of the Alps, speakers of German
and Italian live on opposite sides of a
major ridge
Portions of mountain rim along the
northern edge of the Fertile Crescent
form the border between Semitic and
Indo-European tongues
The environment guides migration
Linguistic borders that follow such
physical features tend to be stable
and endure for thousands of years
Language borders that cross plains
and major routes of communication
are frequently unstable — GermanicSlavic boundary on the North
European Plain
Language characteristics used to
define linguistic culture regions
Overlap of languages complicates
drawing of linguistic borders
In any given area more than one
tongue may be spoken — Ecuador
Language barriers are rarely sharp
Language characteristics used to
define linguistic culture regions
Geographers encounter a
core/periphery pattern
rather than a dividing line
Dominance of language
diminishes away from the
center of the region
Outlying zone of
Linguistic “islands” often
further complicate the
drawing of language
Language characteristics used to
define linguistic culture regions
Dialect terms often overlap considerably,
making it difficult to draw isoglossess
Linguistic geographers often disagree about
how many dialects are present
Disagreement also occurs on where lines
should be drawn
Boundaries are necessarily simplified and
at best generalizations
Language families
The Indo-European language family
Largest most wide-spread family
Spoken on all continents
Dominant in Europe, Russia, North and South
America, Australia, and parts of southwestern
Asia and India
Subfamilies—Romance, Slavic, Germanic,
Indic, Celtic, and Iranic
Subfamilies are divided into individual
Seven Indo-European tongues are among the
top 10 languages spoken in the world
By comparing vocabularies in various
languages one can see the kinship
Language families
The Afro-Asiatic family
Has two major divisions—Semitic and Hamitic
Semitic covers the area from Tigris-Euphrates
valley westward through most of the north half
of Africa to the Atlantic coast
Domain is large but consists of mostly sparsely
populated deserts
Arabic is the most widespread Semitic language
Arabic has the most number of native speakers—
about 186 million
Hebrew was a “dead” language used only in religious
Today Hebrew is the official language of Israel
Amharic a third major Semitic tongues has 20 million
speakers in the mountains of East Africa
Language families
The Afro-Asiatic family
Has two major divisions—Semitic and Hamitic
Smaller number of people speak Hamitic languages
Share North and East Africa with Semitic speakers
Spoken by the Berbers of Morocco and Algeria
Spoken by the Tuaregs of the Sahara and Cushites of
East Africa
Originated in Asia but today only spoken in Africa
Expansion of Arabic decreased the area and number of
Other major language families
Africa south of the Sahara Desert is
dominated by the Niger-Congo family
Spoken by about 200 million people
Greater part of the Niger-Congo culture
region belongs to the Bantu subgroup
Includes Swahili—the lingua franca of
East Africa
Other major language families
Altaic language family
Includes Turkic, Mongolic, and several other
Homeland lies largely in deserts, tundras, and
coniferous forests of northern and central Asia
Uralic family
Finnish and Hungarian are the two most
important tongues
Both have official status in their countries
Other major language families
Austronesian language family
Most remarkable language family in terms of
Speakers live mainly on tropical islands
Ranges from Madagascar, through Indonesia
and the Pacific Islands, to Hawaii and Easter
Longitudinal span is more than half way around
the world
Latitudinally, ranges from Hawaii and Taiwan in
the north to New Zealand in the south
Largest single language in this family is
Indonesian —5O million speakers
Most widespread language is Polynesian
Other major language families
Sino-Tibetan language family
One of the major language families of
the world
Extends throughout most of China and
Southeast Asia
Han Chinese is spoken in a variety of
dialects as a mother tongue by 836
million people
Han serves as the official form of speech
in China
Other major language families
Japanese/Korean language family
Another major Asian family with nearly
200 million speakers
Seems to have some kinship to both the
Altaic and Austronesian
Other major language families
Austro-Asiatic language family
Found in Southeast Asia, Vietnam,
Cambodia, Thailand, and spoken by
some tribal people of Malaya and parts
of India
Occupies a remnant peripheral domain
Has been encroached upon by SinoTibetan, Indo-European, and
Other major language families
Occupy refuge areas after retreat before rival
Khoisan — found in the Kalahari Desert of southwestern
Africa, characterized by clicking sounds
Dravidian — spoken by numerous darker-skinned people
of southern India and northern Sri Lanka
Others include — Papuan, Caucasic, Nilo-Saharan,
Paleosiberian, Inukitut, and a variety of Amerindian
Basque — spoken on the borderland between Spain and
France is unrelated to any other language in the world
London, England
This display of
newspapers illustrates
the fact that London is
an international city as
well as a major
migration destination.
In South Kensington,
sizable foreign
contribute complexity
London, England
to the linguistic
Both IndoEuropean (e.g.
French, Spanish
and Swedish) and
Afro-Asiatic (Arab)
language families
are represented

The Mosaic of Languages - White River High School