Differentiation, Linguistic

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Differentiation, Linguistic


one of the fundamental processes characterizing the development of cognate languages; the opposite of linguistic integration. Although the process is conditioned by social rather than linguistic factors (its rate slows with increased consolidation of society), it leads to the material and structural divergence of languages through a gradual loss of common elements and an acquisition of specific traits. For example, Russian, Byelorussian, and Ukrainian are all based on Old Russian.

The process of linguistic differentiation affects all aspects of language structure. Systematic tendencies of divergence, which are manifested in the presence of regular sound correspondences in material common to the cognate languages, make possible the ascertainment of the very fact of linguistic differentiation. The general course of linguistic differentiation within the limits of the language family is modeled on the scheme of the so-called genealogical tree, whose initial point designates the parent language and whose terminal points designate the sum total of the cognate languages.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.