How long does it take for a language to split or evolve into different languages?
For example, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese had Latin roots, but now they're different languages. How long does it take for that to happen?
- PontusLv 74 weeks agoFavorite Answer
The rate of linguistic evolution varies.
Latin evolved into new languages fairly quickly. Most took between 500-1000 years. It has dozens of daughter languages. The five major ones include the three you listed plus French & Romanian, but there are many minor ones.
Some languages, though, change very little over 2000 years. Speakers at the beginning and end of that time period would still understand each other with little to no difficulty. Tamil is an example of one such language.
Many factors affect the rate of change. The more isolated a culture is, the less it tends to change, but internal political, religious, social (etc) changes can speed it up.
When a culture spreads quickly and encounters new cultures or new technology or ideas, the rate of change is accelerated.
Latin was the language of the Roman empire. As its people spread out, linguistic changes in one place often didn't make it to many other places. That resulted in dialects. Over several centuries, the changes in those dialects accumulated to the point that they were no longer mutually intelligible, for the most part, and so they had become new yet related languages.
The British Empire has spread English all around the world. There are many dialects of English. In 500 years or so, English will have become at least a few if not many dozens of new yet related Anglic languages.
However, all languages evolve given enough time, even isolated ones. The rate of change is just much slower in some, but never completely absent.
Every single language we know about, living or dead, evolved from a previous language. Nobody knows what the first language or languages was/were.Source(s): studied linguistics and the history of languages; taught French; intermediate German, Italian, & Japanese
- Don VertoLv 74 weeks ago
Spanish and Portuguese were standardized much earlier than Italian because they became a united nation much earlier.
Also before printing , schools ,easy travel,radio and T.V. many local dialects were everywhere.
- BillLv 64 weeks ago
less than 200 years considering that America has split the english language
- ZirpLv 74 weeks ago
there is no fixed time for it. Some languages with taboos change pretty fast, languages like aymara go for centuries without even adopting loanwords.
Sometimes the main factor is politics. When Yugoslavia fell apart, some politicians suddenly acted as if serb-croat was now several different languages: serbian, croat, bosnian.... They even changed the vocabularies by preferring words that didn't exist in the other dialects.
Flemish and Dutch are separate languages the same way. Some expressions in one don't make any sense in the other
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- A Yahoo UserLv 74 weeks ago
With modern education (printed textbooks, near-universal literacy)
very, very slowly.
In "the old days", all it takes is an isolated population and probably three or four generations. I'd say: 100 years is probably sufficient, though more usual would be several centuries (because complete isolation is not the usual situation).
- 4 weeks ago
About a couple hundred years, I would say