Chapter 10. Types of spread zones

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Spread zones are areas where any resident language is likely to spread out widely, so overall linguistic diversity is low at any time (though over time different languages spread out, giving the area a diverse diachronic profile). This chapter subclassifies spread systems into four types: (1) mountain ranges, where languages tend to spread uphill gradually; (2) altiplanos, upland closed spread zones where the distinctive climate and ecology require special adaptation and a language, once established there, is hard to dislodge, and descendants of the first language in tend to undergo later spreads, giving the altiplano a very low diversity profile even diachronically; (3) lowland open spread zones, where a language can enter from any direction and any entering language has some chance of spread, so structurally and genealogically different languages spread over time and give the zone a diverse profile diachronically; (4) lowland closed spread zones, where natural or other barriers make entry difficult; here the history of spreads is rather like that in altiplanos.


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