Areal feature


Areal feature

In linguistics, an areal feature is any typological feature shared by languages within the same geographical area.

Resemblances between two or more languages (whether typological or in vocabulary) can be due to genetic relation (descent from a common ancestor language), or due to borrowing at some time in the past between languages that were not necessarily genetically related. When little or no direct documentation of ancestor languages is available, it can be hard to determine whether a similarity is genetic or areal.

A related concept is a sprachbund (also known as a linguistic area, convergence area or diffusion area), a group of languages that have become similar in some features because of geographical proximity.

Examples

* the use of the plural pronoun as a polite word for "you" in much of Europe (the "tu-vous" distinction)
* the spread of the uvular R from French to several Germanic languages
* the presence of the vowels y, ø, and œ (known as "front rounded vowels") in languages of northern Eurasia, most especially Scandinavia. This almost certainly originated in the Uralic or Altaic languages
* the change of Proto Indo-European *kw into *p in P-Celtic, Oscan, and Greek
* possibly the Satem sound change
* postposed article, avoidance of the infinitive, merging of genitive and dative, and superessive number formation in languages of the Balkans
* the lack of a p in many of the languages around the Sahara, such as Arabic
* the occurrence of click consonants in Bantu languages of southern Africa, which originated in the Khoisan languages
* the tendency for the relative clause to precede the noun (very rare elsewhere) in languages of South and East Asia
* the prevalence of contrasting phonemic tone in East and Southeast Asia, which may have started with the Miao-Yao or Tai-Kadai languages
* the lack of fricatives in Australian languages
* the spread of a verb-final word order to the Austronesian languages of New Guinea.
* and the prevalence of ejective and lateral fricatives and affricates in the Pacific Northwest of North America

ee also

*Sprachbund
*Comparative method
*Mass lexical comparisonExamples:
*Balkan sprachbund
*Native American languages#Linguistic areas
*East Asian language#Areal linguistic features
*African languages#Linguistic features
*Australian Aboriginal languages#Common features

Bibliography

* Campbell, Lyle. (In press). Areal linguistics. In K. Brown (Ed.), "Encyclopedia of language and linguistics" (2nd ed.). Oxford: Elsevier. (Online version: http://www.linguistics.utah.edu/Faculty/campbell/CampbellArealLingEnc.doc).


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