Chapter published in:Processes of Change: Studies in Late Modern and Present-Day English
Edited by Sandra Jansen and Lucia Siebers
[Studies in Language Variation 21] 2019
► pp. 247–259
Borders and language
We expect to find dialect differences dispersed along a geographic continuum, under normal circumstances. That is, unless some contingency disrupts the geography, we expect to find only minor differences in the speech of one community and the communities on either side. The differences proliferate as distance increases, so that dialect differences are greater in communities further away. This pattern of dispersion is known as a dialect continuum (Chambers and Trudgill 1998: 5–7). It is a model that has not aroused much critical scrutiny presumably because it follows from the common-sense observation that people tend to speak more like their neighbors than people further away. The most rigorous examination of the concept, the dialectometric analysis of a chain of Dutch villages by Heeringa and Nerbonne (2001), corroborated the main tenets of the model.
Keywords: dialectology, dialect continuum, linguistic borders, lexical variables, pronunciation variables
Published online: 13 August 2019
Chambers, J. K.
Creswell, Thomas J.
Gordon, Matthew J.