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See also: Sprachbund


Alternative forms[edit]


Borrowed from German Sprachbund (literally language alliance, language association), from Sprache (language; way of speaking, speech) (ultimately from Proto-West Germanic *sprāku (language; speech)) + Bund (alliance) (from binden (to bind, to tie up), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *bʰendʰ- (to bind)). The German word was coined by Russian linguist Nikolai Trubetzkoy (1890–1938) in a paper he presented to the inaugural International Congress of Linguists in 1928[1] as a calque of the Russian term языково́й сою́з (jazykovój sojúz, literally language union), which he had introduced in a 1923 article.[2]



sprachbund (plural sprachbunds or sprachbünde)

  1. (linguistics) A group of languages sharing a number of areal features (similar grammar, vocabulary, etc.) which are primarily due to language contact rather than cognation.
    • 1948, F[ranciscus] B[ernardus] J[acobus] Kuiper, “Introduction”, in Proto-Munda Words in Sanskrit (Verhandelingen der Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen. Afd. Letterkunde, Nieuwe Reeks [Treatises of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Department of Literature, New Series]; deel [part] LI, number 3), Amsterdam: Noord-Hollandsche Uitgevers Maatschappij [North-Holland Publishing Society], OCLC 879149912, page 5:
      The introduction of the new term Proto-Munda is justified by the fact that, as early as the Vedic period, the Munda languages had departed considerably from the Austro-Asiatic type of language and developed a character of their own brought about by a number of dialectal phonetic changes and the introduction of suffixes in the word-formation. Both phenomena mark the beginning of a process of "Dravidization" of the Munda tongues which has ultimately given them the character of agglutinating languages and has thus contributed to the growth of the Indian linguistic league (Sprachbund).
    • 1988, Jacek Fisiak, editor, Historical Dialectology: Regional and Social (Trends in Linguistics, Studies and Monographs; 37), New York, N.Y.: Mouton de Gruyter, →ISBN, page 308:
      [] Certainly it is 'nicer' to define a sprachbund by what appear to be exclusively shared features with differentiate it from its neighbors – just as it is 'nicer' to be able to define a dialect by a set of innovations which clearly mark it off from other, related dialects. In the case of dialect continua, it has been known for a long time that this approach is unrealistic and historically inaccurate []
    • 1997, Malcolm Ross, “Social Networks and Kinds of Speech-Community Event”, in Roger Blench and Matthew Spriggs, editors, Archaeology and Language I: Theoretical and Methodological Orientations (One World Archaeology; 27), London; New York, N.Y.: Routledge, →ISBN, page 243:
      The linguist reader will recognize that the Takia/Waskia, Mixe Basque/Gascon, Romansch/Swiss German and Sauris German/Friulian pairs each form a small Sprachbund ('language alliance'). Probably the best-known Sprachbund consists of modern Greek, Albanian, Romanian, and the southern Slav languages Macedonian, Bulgarian, Serbian and Croatian, which through centuries of contact have undergone metatypy to the extent that there are very close semantic and syntactic []
    • 2005, Bernd Heine; Tania Kuteva, “On Linguistic Areas”, in Language Contact and Grammatical Change (Cambridge Approaches to Language Contact), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, section 5.1 (Types of Linguistic Areas), page 173:
      Substantial work has been done to define sprachbunds, with the result that there now are a few regions in all major macro-regions of the world that can be defined in terms of language contact. With regard to defining sprachbunds, two different stances can be distinguished. On the one hand it is argued that a definition of sprachbunds should highlight the fact that they are the result of language contact, that is, of historical processes; [] On the other hand, sprachbunds are defined exclusively in terms of linguistic parameters without reference to the historical forces that gave rise to them.
    • 2013, Thomas Stolz, “Contemporary Europe”, in Competing Comparative Constructions in Europe (Studia Typologica; 13), [Berlin]: Akademie Verlag, →ISBN, section 5.3.4 (The Internal Geolinguisics of Europe), page 196:
      The research program took shape after the Pragian structuralists made public their definition of the concept of Sprachbund. Since then various hypotheses have been put forward as to the subdivision of the continent into a number of distinct areas which are commonly termed Sprachbünde, linguistic areas or contact superposition zones [].
    Synonyms: area of linguistic convergence, diffusion area, language crossroads, linguistic area

Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ Nikolai S. Trubetzkoy (1930), “Proposition 16. Über den Sprachbund”, in Actes du premier congrès international des linguistes à la Haye, du 10–15 avril 1928, Leiden: A[lbertus] W[illem] Sijthoff, OCLC 1000530353, pages 17–18.
  2. ^ Nikolai S. Trubetzkoy (1923), “Vavilonskaja bašnja i smešenie jazykov [The Tower of Babel and the Confusion of Languages]”, in Petr Savicky, P. P. Suvčinsky, and N. S. Trubeckoy, editors, Evrazijskij vremennik, volume 3, Berlin: Evrazijskoe knigoizdatel'stvo, OCLC 82847276, pages 107–124.

Further reading[edit]