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8 - Geography and distribution of the Romance languages in Europe

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 October 2013

John Charles Smith
Affiliation:
St Catherine's College, Oxford
Adam Ledgeway
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
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Summary

Romance languages are in immediate contact with a number of other language varieties. As for Indo-European languages, the Celtic language Breton, spoken in Brittany, is the result of medieval colonization from the British Isles, and there are numerous German-speaking outcrops in Italy, due to medieval or modern colonization in the valleys. The Romance languages continue in situ the Latin spoken in the western part of the Roman Empire. The dialectal variety within Italy is unparalleled in Romance or in any other linguistic domain in Europe. The modern sociolinguistic situation of the Romance varieties may be efficiently described in terms of bilingualism and diglossia. Romance-speaking Europe played the major part in nineteenth- and twentieth-century migrations. North American and British sociolinguistics, which mainly studied urban language, appeared both a dangerous competitor and a potentially fertile model for traditional linguistic geography to follow, perhaps the answer to the crisis.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2013

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