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The Mosaic of Languages

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1 The Mosaic of Languages
Chapter 5 The Human Mosaic

2 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 geographers

3 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

4 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 Official language of Papua, New Guinea is a largely English-derived pidgin language, which includes Spanish, German, and Papuan words

5 Terms used in the study of language
Lingua franca — a language that spreads over a wide area where it is not the mother tongue A language of communication and commerce Swahili language has this status in much of East Africa

6 Kenya

7 Kenya Kenya has two official languages: Swahili and English. These lingua franca facilitate communication among Bantu, Nilotic, and Cushitic language speakers. Swahili developed along the coast of East Africa where

8 Kenya 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.

9 Kenya This shopping center caters to Maasai herders who speak a Nilotic language and Kikuyu farmers who speak a Bantu language. Jambo means “hello” in Swahili.

10 The Mosaic of Languages
Linguistic Culture Regions Linguistic Diffusion Linguistic Ecology Culturo-Linguistic Integration Linguistic Landscapes

11 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 another Typically cluster together in “bundles” Bundles serve as the most satisfactory dividing lines among dialects and languages


13 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


15 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 bilingualism Linguistic “islands” often further complicate the drawing of language borders

16 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



19 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 languages 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

20 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 ceremonies Today Hebrew is the official language of Israel Amharic a third major Semitic tongues has 20 million speakers in the mountains of East Africa

21 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 speakers

22 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

23 Other major language families
Altaic language family Includes Turkic, Mongolic, and several other subgroups 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

24 Other major language families
Austronesian language family Most remarkable language family in terms of distribution Speakers live mainly on tropical islands Ranges from Madagascar, through Indonesia and the Pacific Islands, to Hawaii and Easter Island 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

25 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

26 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

27 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 Sino-Tibetan, Indo-European, and Austronesian


29 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

30 London, England to the linguistic landscape.
Both Indo-European (e.g. French, Spanish and Swedish) and Afro-Asiatic (Arab) language families are represented here.

31 Other major language families
Occupy refuge areas after retreat before rival groups 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

32 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 Northern Midland Southern


34 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 pronunciations Drawing dialect boundaries is often tricky


36 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 highway Freeway — a California word Turnpike and parkway — mainly northeastern and Midwestern words Thruway, expressway, and interstate

37 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 African-Americans Used by ghetto dwellers who have not made their compromises with mainstream American culture Many features separate it from standard speech, for example: Lack of pronoun differentiation between genders Use of undifferentiated pronouns

38 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 impoverishment 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

39 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 level Local variations in grammar and pronunciation proliferate The homogenizing influence of radio, television, and other mass media is being defied

40 London, England

41 London, England While English is spoken in many pats of the world, all English words are not mutually intelligible. This London tube (subway) sign say that anyone performing there (eg singing or playing for money) is subject to a fine of subsection. Are tubs, subway, and busking dialect words?

42 The Mosaic of Languages
Linguistic Culture Regions Linguistic Diffusion Linguistic Ecology Culturo-Linguistic Integration Linguistic Landscapes

43 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 gatherers As people dispersed and lost contact, different variant forms of the language caused fragmentation of the family

44 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

45 Austronesian diffusion
Presumed hearth in the interior of Southeast Asia 5,000 years ago Initially spread southward into the Malay Peninsula 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


47 Austronesian diffusion
The remarkable diffusion of the Polynesian people Form the eastern part of the Austronesian culture region Occupy hundreds of Pacific islands in a triangular-shaped 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 Islands Sailors had no way of knowing that land existed in the area


49 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: Winds Ocean currents Vessel traits and capabilities Island visibility Duration of voyage, etc. Both drift and navigated voyages were considered

50 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 area “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


52 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 ago Ancestral to nine modern language families A 500-word dictionary has been compiled Contemporary with Nostratic were other ancient tongues including Dene-Caucasian


54 Searching for the primordial tongue
Dene-Caucasian reputedly gave rise to Sino-Tibetan, Basque, and one form of early Native-American called Na-Dene Scholars are attempting to find the original linguistic hearth area from which all modern languages have derived It is believed the original language hearth arose in Africa perhaps 250,000 years ago and diffused from there

55 The Mosaic of Languages
Linguistic Culture Regions Linguistic Diffusion Linguistic Ecology Culturo-Linguistic Integration Linguistic Landscapes

56 The environment and vocabulary
How the environment affects vocabulary Spanish language derived from Castile Rich in words describing rough terrain (Table 5.3) 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

57 The environment and vocabulary
English Developed in wet coastal plains Very poor in words describing mountainous terrain Abounds with words describing flowing streams Rural American South—river, creek, branch, fork, prong, run, bayou, and slough


59 The environment and vocabulary
Vocabularies develop for features of the environment that involve livelihood Detailed vocabularies are necessary to communicate sophisticated information relevant to the adaptive strategy

60 The environment provides refuge
Inhospitable environments offer protection and isolation 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

61 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 America In the Rocky Mountains of northern New Mexico, an archaic form of Spanish survives due to isolation that ended in the early 1900s


63 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

64 Switzerland Switzerland has four recognized national languages: French, German, Italian, and Romansch. Romansch, a language of Latin origin, is spoken by only 1.1% of the population.

65 Switzerland Nevertheless, it has survived in the alpine linguistic refuge of the upper Rhine and Inn Rivers and was given official recognition in 1938.

66 Switzerland This traditional Engadine (Inn valley) house is decorated by sgraffito whereby designs are scratched through a white limewash coating to expose the underlying grey plaster.

67 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

68 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 them Germanic Indo-Europeans chose familiar temperate zones in America, New Zealand, and Australia 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 Europe

69 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 Indo-European/Dravidian language boundary seems to approximate an ecological boundary

70 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

71 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 — Germanic-Slavic boundary on the North European Plain

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