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.


* 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

*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


* Campbell, Lyle. (In press). Areal linguistics. In K. Brown (Ed.), "Encyclopedia of language and linguistics" (2nd ed.). Oxford: Elsevier. (Online version:

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • East Asian languages — describe two notional groupings of languages in East and Southeast Asia: * Languages which have been greatly influenced by Classical Chinese and the Chinese writing system, in particular Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese (also known as… …   Wikipedia

  • Nilo-Saharan languages — Group of perhaps 115 African languages spoken by more than 27 million people from Mali to Ethiopia and from southernmost Egypt to Tanzania. The concept of Nilo Saharan as a single stock combining a number of earlier groupings was introduced in… …   Universalium

  • Natural language — This article is about natural language in neuropsychology and linguistics. For natural language in computer systems, see Natural language processing. Neuropsychology …   Wikipedia

  • Glottalic consonant — A glottalic consonant is a consonant produced with some important contribution (a movement, a closure) of the glottis (the opening that leads from the nose and mouth cavities into the larynx and the lungs).Glottalic sounds may involve motion of… …   Wikipedia

  • Voiceless bilabial plosive — The voiceless bilabial plosive is a type of consonantal sound used in many spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is IPA|p, and the equivalent X SAMPA symbol is p. The voiceless bilabial… …   Wikipedia

  • Central Atlas Tamazight — This article is about the Berber dialect of Central Morocco called Tamazight exclusively. For other uses of the word Tamazight , see Berber language. TZM redirects here. For the organisation, see The Zeitgeist Movement Central Atlas Tamazight… …   Wikipedia

  • Centum-Satem isogloss — The Centum Satem division is an isogloss of the Indo European language family, related to the evolution of the three dorsal consonant rows reconstructed for Proto Indo European, *Unicode|kʷ (labiovelars), *Unicode|k (velars), and *Unicode|ḱ ;… …   Wikipedia

  • Totonacan languages — Infobox Language family name = Totonacan region = Mexico familycolor = American family = isolated language family (part of the Mesoamerican Linguistic Area) child1 = Tepehua child2 = Totonac iso2 = The Totonacan Languages are a family of closely… …   Wikipedia

  • Proto-Indo-European language — PIE redirects here. For other uses, see PIE (disambiguation). Indo European topics Indo European languages (list) Albanian · Armenian · Baltic Celtic · Germanic · Greek Indo Ira …   Wikipedia

  • Substratum in Vedic Sanskrit — Vedic Sanskrit has a number of linguistic features which are alien to most other Indo European languages. Prominent examples include: phonologically, the introduction of retroflexes, which alternate with dentals; morphologically, the formation of …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”