Dialect continuum

dialect clusterdialect chaincontinuumdialect continualanguage clusterlanguage continuumdialectal continuumlinguistic continuumSouth Slavic dialect continuumcontinuum of dialects
A dialect continuum or dialect chain is a spread of language varieties spoken across some geographical area such that neighboring varieties differ only slightly, but the differences accumulate over distance so that widely separated varieties are not mutually intelligible.wikipedia
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Mutual intelligibility

mutually intelligiblemutually unintelligibleintelligible
A dialect continuum or dialect chain is a spread of language varieties spoken across some geographical area such that neighboring varieties differ only slightly, but the differences accumulate over distance so that widely separated varieties are not mutually intelligible.
It exists in differing degrees among many related or geographically proximate languages of the world, often in the context of a dialect continuum.

Variety (linguistics)

varietiesvarietylect
A dialect continuum or dialect chain is a spread of language varieties spoken across some geographical area such that neighboring varieties differ only slightly, but the differences accumulate over distance so that widely separated varieties are not mutually intelligible.
In sociolinguistics, a variety, also called a lect, is a specific form of a language or language cluster.

German dialects

German dialectdialectsdialectal
It also happened between Portugal, southern Belgium (Wallonia) and southern Italy (Western Romance languages) and between Flanders and Austria (German dialects). Dialectologists record variation across a dialect continuum using maps of various features collected in a linguistic atlas, beginning with an atlas of German dialects by Georg Wenker (from 1888), based on a postal survey of schoolmasters.
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 shift, and the dialect continua that connect German to the neighboring varieties of Low Franconian (Dutch) and Frisian.

Norwegian language

NorwegianNeutralNorwegian:
The Scandinavian languages, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, are often cited as examples. The Germanic languages and dialects of Scandinavia are a classic example of a dialect continuum, from Swedish dialects in Finland, to Swedish, Gutnish, Elfdalian, Scanian, Danish, Norwegian (Bokmål and Nynorsk), Faroese, Icelandic, with many local dialects of those languages.
Along with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a dialect continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional varieties; some Norwegian and Swedish dialects, in particular, are very close.

Dialectology

dialectologistdialectologicaldialectologists
Instead, dialectologists map variation of various language features across a dialect continuum, drawing lines called isoglosses between areas that differ with respect to some feature.
Commonly studied concepts in dialectology include the problem of mutual intelligibility in defining languages and dialects; situations of diglossia, where two dialects are used for different functions; dialect continua including a number of partially mutually intelligible dialects; and pluricentrism, where what is essentially a single genetic language exists as two or more standard varieties.

Indo-Aryan languages

Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan languageIndic
That happens, for example, across large parts of India (the Indo-Aryan languages), Iran and its neighbors such as Afghanistan and Tajikistan (the Persian language), or the Arab world (Arabic).
The Indo-Aryan languages of North India and Pakistan form a dialect continuum.

Belarusian language

BelarusianBelorussianbe
Examples include the boundaries between Dutch and German, between Czech, Slovak and Polish, and between Belarusian and Ukrainian.
To some extent, Russian, Rusyn, Ukrainian, and Belarusian are all mutually intelligible, effectively forming a dialect continuum.

Abstand and ausbau languages

DachspracheAusbauspracheabstand
Standard varieties may be developed and codified at one or more locations in a continuum until they have independent cultural status (autonomy), a process the German linguist Heinz Kloss called ausbau.
This framework addresses situations in which multiple varieties from a dialect continuum have been standardized, so that they are commonly considered distinct languages even though they may be mutually intelligible.

Macedonian language

MacedonianMacedonian CyrillicMacedonian Slavic
Now known as Macedonian, it is the national standard of North Macedonia, but viewed by Bulgarians as a dialect of Bulgarian.
Macedonian dialects form a continuum with Bulgarian dialects; they in turn form a broader continuum with Serbo-Croatian through the transitional Torlakian dialects.

Swedish language

SwedishSwedish-languageSwedish-speaking
The Scandinavian languages, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, are often cited as examples. The Germanic languages and dialects of Scandinavia are a classic example of a dialect continuum, from Swedish dialects in Finland, to Swedish, Gutnish, Elfdalian, Scanian, Danish, Norwegian (Bokmål and Nynorsk), Faroese, Icelandic, with many local dialects of those languages.
Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish are thus from a linguistic perspective more accurately described as a dialect continuum of Scandinavian (North Germanic), and some of the dialects, such as those on the border between Norway and Sweden, especially parts of Bohuslän, Dalsland, western Värmland, western Dalarna, Härjedalen, Jämtland, and Scania, could be described as intermediate dialects of the national standard languages.

Persian language

PersianNew PersianFarsi
That happens, for example, across large parts of India (the Indo-Aryan languages), Iran and its neighbors such as Afghanistan and Tajikistan (the Persian language), or the Arab world (Arabic).
The more detailed standard ISO 639-3 uses the name "Persian" (code ) for the dialect continuum spoken across Iran and Afghanistan.

Polish language

PolishplPolish-language
Examples include the boundaries between Dutch and German, between Czech, Slovak and Polish, and between Belarusian and Ukrainian.
Polish, along with Czech and Slovak, forms the West Slavic dialect continuum.

North Germanic languages

ScandinavianScandinavian languagesNorth Germanic
The Scandinavian languages, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, are often cited as examples. The Germanic languages and dialects of Scandinavia are a classic example of a dialect continuum, from Swedish dialects in Finland, to Swedish, Gutnish, Elfdalian, Scanian, Danish, Norwegian (Bokmål and Nynorsk), Faroese, Icelandic, with many local dialects of those languages.
The term "North Germanic languages" is used in comparative linguistics, whereas the term "Scandinavian languages" appears in studies of the modern standard languages and the dialect continuum of Scandinavia.

Linguistic map

linguistic atlasdialect atlasatlas
Dialectologists record variation across a dialect continuum using maps of various features collected in a linguistic atlas, beginning with an atlas of German dialects by Georg Wenker (from 1888), based on a postal survey of schoolmasters.
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.

Scanian dialect

ScanianScanian dialectsSkånska
The Germanic languages and dialects of Scandinavia are a classic example of a dialect continuum, from Swedish dialects in Finland, to Swedish, Gutnish, Elfdalian, Scanian, Danish, Norwegian (Bokmål and Nynorsk), Faroese, Icelandic, with many local dialects of those languages.
Older Scanian formed part of the old Scandinavian dialect continuum and are by most historical linguists considered to be an East Danish dialect group, but due to the modern-era influence from Standard Swedish in the region and because traditional dialectology in the Scandinavian countries normally has not considered isoglosses that cut across state borders, the Scanian dialects have normally been treated as a South Swedish dialect group in Swedish dialect research.

Standard language

standardstandardizedstandard dialect
Standard varieties may be developed and codified at one or more locations in a continuum until they have independent cultural status (autonomy), a process the German linguist Heinz Kloss called ausbau. A variety within a dialect continuum may be developed and codified as a standard language, and then serve as an authority for part of the continuum, e.g. within a particular political unit or geographical area. 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 for longer than the languages in the Continental West Germanic group, and so are not commonly classified as dialects of a common language.
Different national standards, derived from a continuum of dialects, might be treated as discrete languages (along with heteronomous vernacular dialects ), even if there are mutually intelligible varieties among them, such as the North Germanic languages of Scandinavia (Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish).

Wave model

wave theorywaves Wave model of language change
Dialect continua typically occur in long-settled agrarian populations, as innovations spread from their various points of origin as waves.
During the 20th century, the wave model has had little acceptance as a model for language change overall, except for certain cases, such as the study of dialect continua and areal phenomena; it has recently gained more popularity among historical linguists, due to the shortcomings of the Tree model.

Ukrainian language

UkrainianUkrainian-languagemodern Ukrainian language
Examples include the boundaries between Dutch and German, between Czech, Slovak and Polish, and between Belarusian and Ukrainian.
The southwestern Ukrainian dialects are transitional to Polish.

Dutch language

DutchDutch-languagenl
Examples include the boundaries between Dutch and German, between Czech, Slovak and Polish, and between Belarusian and Ukrainian.
In most cases, the heavy influence of the standard language has broken the dialect continuum.

Dialect

dialectsregiolectdialectal
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 for longer than the languages in the Continental West Germanic group, and so are not commonly classified as dialects of a common language.
Under this definition, the dialects or varieties of a particular language are closely related and, despite their differences, are most often largely mutually intelligible, especially if close to one another on the dialect continuum.

Languages of Italy

Italian dialectsItalianItalian languages
The Romance languages of Italy are a less arguable example of a dialect continuum.
Although they are sometimes colloquially referred to as dialects or regional languages, they are almost all distributed in a continuum across the regions' administrative boundaries, and speakers from one locale within a single region are typically aware of the features distinguishing their own variety from one of the other places nearby.

Galician language

GalicianGalegoGalician speaking
The western continuum of Romance languages comprises, from West to East: in Portugal, Portuguese; in Spain, Galician, Leonese or Asturian, Castilian or Spanish, Aragonese and Catalan or Valencian; in France, Occitan, Franco-Provençal, standard French and Corsican which is closely related to Italian; in Italy, Piedmontese, Italian, Lombard, Venetian, Friulian, Ladin; and in Switzerland, Lombard and Romansh.
Currently, at the level of rural dialects, Galician form a dialect continuum with Portuguese in the south, and with Astur-Leonese in the east.

Leonese dialect

LeoneseLeonese languageLeonese proper
The western continuum of Romance languages comprises, from West to East: in Portugal, Portuguese; in Spain, Galician, Leonese or Asturian, Castilian or Spanish, Aragonese and Catalan or Valencian; in France, Occitan, Franco-Provençal, standard French and Corsican which is closely related to Italian; in Italy, Piedmontese, Italian, Lombard, Venetian, Friulian, Ladin; and in Switzerland, Lombard and Romansh.
The westernmost fringes of the provinces of León and Zamora are in the territory of the Galician language, although there is dialectal continuity between the linguistic areas.

Aragonese language

AragoneseAra.Aragonese orthography
The western continuum of Romance languages comprises, from West to East: in Portugal, Portuguese; in Spain, Galician, Leonese or Asturian, Castilian or Spanish, Aragonese and Catalan or Valencian; in France, Occitan, Franco-Provençal, standard French and Corsican which is closely related to Italian; in Italy, Piedmontese, Italian, Lombard, Venetian, Friulian, Ladin; and in Switzerland, Lombard and Romansh.
The union of the Catalan counties and the Kingdom of Aragon which formed the 12th-century Crown of Aragon did not merge the languages of the two territories; Catalan continued to be spoken in the east and Navarro-Aragonese in the west, with the boundaries blurred by dialectal continuity.

Romansh language

RomanshRomanschRumantsch Grischun
The western continuum of Romance languages comprises, from West to East: in Portugal, Portuguese; in Spain, Galician, Leonese or Asturian, Castilian or Spanish, Aragonese and Catalan or Valencian; in France, Occitan, Franco-Provençal, standard French and Corsican which is closely related to Italian; in Italy, Piedmontese, Italian, Lombard, Venetian, Friulian, Ladin; and in Switzerland, Lombard and Romansh.
These dialects form a dialect continuum without clear-cut divisions.