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Subject: parent and daughter languages
Question: I have read in several publications that the further the daughter
language is from the ''epicentre'' the less change it undergoes. (I am
not thinking of isolated language communities eg welsh in patagonia,
but mainstream eg romance languages in europe) why is this?

Reply: Hi, Carolyn,

In reality, this is just a question of geographical linguistics.
We now know that almost all languages are in fact a bundle of
coexisting 'dialects': socioeconomic ones, situational ones and
literally geographic ones (boundaries -- physical, social or
otherwise -- impede communication and therefore, since all
languages are in a constant state of (partial) change, impede
*common* change. Now, at the 'epicenter' of this situation,
change will have been going on for the longest time, and
'capsules' of common change (ie, subdialects) will be more
densely packed, that is, there will be more of them in less
space. Meanwhile, in the 'suburbs' (outlying areas), there will
have been, in a given area, less time for the changes to
accumulate, and therefore less overall apparent change.

So in a way it is not that there is less change, but rather that
the change is less 'dense', so to speak, or noticeable. [Note:
this is a partial and way oversimplified summary of how much of
linguistic change seems to work.]


James L. Fidelholtz
Graduate Program in Language Sciences
Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades
Benem'erita Universidad Aut'onoma de Puebla, M'EXICO

Reply From: James L Fidelholtz      click here to access email
Date: 13-Oct-2012
Other Replies:
  1. Re: parent and daughter languages    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (15-Oct-2012)

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