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date: 05 December 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the role of isolation as an important sociolinguistic variable in the evolution of language varieties. We outline three dimensions of isolation: geographic, social, and socio-psychological isolation. In insular settings, for example, geographic isolation is the most influential factor in the independent evolution of a variety, whereas in so-called Sprachinseln and immigrant communities, social and socio-psychological isolation may be more important. Moreover, the chapter discusses sociolinguistic changes in isolated communities, both in terms of retention of linguistic features as well as in local innovation. We argue that isolated communities and their individual histories lend themselves ideally to investigations in dialectology, contact linguistics, and diachronic processes of language change.

Keywords: isolation, language change, lesser known varieties, Sprachinseln, immigrant languages, linguistic conservatism

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