Linguistic Alliance

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Linguistic Alliance


a type of areal linguistic community.

A linguistic alliance consists of several languages that have been in linguistic contact; it is characterized by common structural and typological features that result from interaction between the languages. An example is the Balkan linguistic alliance, which comprises languages from different groups; these languages—Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbo-Croatian (in part), Rumanian, Albanian, and Modern Greek—have developed a number of similar phonetic, morphological, and syntactic features, which are termed Balkanisms. The languages in a linguistic alliance also have a considerable number of lexical and phraseological elements in common.

In addition to linguistic alliances in the strict sense of the term, which may labeled intensive, there exist linguistic alliances that may be termed extensive. The languages in extensive linguistic alliances, including the Eurasian and Central Asian linguistic alliances, have common phenomena that occur on one level of language, such as the phonological level.


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Jakobson, R. “K kharakteristike evrazaiskogo iazykovogo soiuza.” In Selected Writings, vol. 1. The Hague-Paris, 1962. Pages 144–201.
Trubetzkoy, N. S. “Phonologie und Sprachgeographie.” Travaux du Cercle linguistique de Prague, 1931, no. 4.


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