Sprachraum  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Sprachraum is a linguistic term used to designate a geographical region/district where a language, dialect, group or family of languages is spoken. The German word Sprachraum (Template:IPA-de; plural Sprachräume) literally means "language area".

Most Sprachräume do not follow national borders. For example, half of South America is part of the Spanish Sprachraum, while a single, small country like Switzerland is at the intersection of four such language spheres. A Sprachraum can also be separated by oceans. The English Sprachraum spans the globe, from the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to the many former British colonies where English has official language status alongside local languages, such as Ireland, India and South Africa. The French Sprachraum, which also spans several continents, is known as La Francophonie. The Francophonie is also the name of an international organisation composed of countries with French as an official language. The Portuguese Sprachraum for example, includes countries that don't border each other. The four major Western Sprachräume are those of English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

By extension, a Sprachraum can also include a group of related languages. Thus the Scandinavian Sprachraum includes Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands, while the Finnic Sprachraum is Finland, Estonia and adjacent areas of Scandinavia and Russia.

Even within a single Sprachraum, there can be different, but closely related, languages, otherwise known as dialect continua. A classic example is the Chinese Languages, which can be mutually unintelligible in spoken form, but belong to the same language family and have a unified non-phonetic writing system. Arabic has a similar situation, but its writing system is phonetic (an abjad) and there is a neutral standard spoken language (Modern Standard Arabic).

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Sprachraum" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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