Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
|Subject:||parent and daughter languages|
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?
I would say that this statement is half accurate. Languages furthest from an
"epicentre" do preserve many features lost in the center, but they ALSO innovate in
As Dr Fidelholtz indicates, this is a question of geography and the closer to the
center, the more the language communities are in contact with each other and the
more likely changes are to diffuse.
Languages at the edge are isolated from common changes, but they don't remain in
a vacuum. They do change on their own path, especially if they are in contact with
other language communities. Even languages on their own (e.g. Hawaiian, Icelandic)
do shift over time.
Note though that a language at the edge has much of the same characteristics
whether it is separated by a geographic barrier or not. It's a matter of degree.
You mention the Romance languages and two sets of peripheral languages include
Romanian and the Iberian languages (Spanish/Portugal).
Romanian is particularly notable for the many different changes it has undergone,
partly as a result of being in contact with Central & Eastern European languages,
including Slavic languages. Yet Romanian is the only language to preserve all 4 Latin
verbal conjugations. The languages in the center have generally dropped down to 3.
Even Spanish, which could be considered "mainstream" is a mix archaic features and
unique innovations. Some archaic Latin words are preserved, but it also includes
borrowings from Arabic, Celtic and Basque.
|Reply From:||Elizabeth J Pyatt click here to access email|