Talk:Stratum (linguistics)

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Altaic superstrata[edit]

I removed two paragraphs in their entirety, because they do not seem to benefit this article:

  • "For instance, some linguists contend that Japanese consists of a Altaic superstratum projected onto an Austronesian substratum, or that the Insular Celtic languages resulted from a Celtic superstratum over an Afroasiatic substratum." -- Both of these hypotheses are highly speculative, and only supported by a handful of fringe scholars; it does not seem like a good idea to illustrate a common and general term with speculative examples when numerous well-established cases are known.
  • "When the influence of another language is too remote in the past for its influence on the surviving language to be adequately characterized, 'substrate' is used by default, though the situation might have really been that of an adstratum or even a superstratum. With Japanese, even 'adstrate' is probably too narrow a term to adequately describe the situation." -- This is just incorrect; in reality there is no practice of using 'substrate' as some kind of "default" term.

--AAikio 06:57, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Sorry to disagree, but I know this practice from Indo-Europeanist usage in particular and can even point to an example: Indo-Iranian substratum, right on page 1, on the bottom. The problem seems to be that there is no neutral term which does not imply a sociolinguistic dominance relation, which, for prehistoric times, is often difficult to reconstruct. Florian Blaschke 19:45, 25 September 2006 (UTC)
I strongly disagree withAltaic superstrata denials and I will restore and source the relevant information. Best, Eklir (talk) 02:25, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
The question of a possible Altaic component in Japanese has its place under Japanese and under Altaic, but not under Stratum. By the way, component could be used as that neutral term. And the notion of cultural prestige is not a part of the definition of substratum or superstratum (neither of adstratum, I think), it is just one factor of the phenomenon. --Zxly (talk) 15:16, 10 March 2012 (UTC)

Merge with Language contact[edit]

Merged discussion: I am opposing the merge with language contact, because this article presents the model of Substratum-Superstratum-Adstratum specifically and not any language contact in general, although any language contact may be classified by this model. But it is worth to keep seperate articles. If you do not want to have seperate articles for each term (sub- super- adstratum) than why not make a general lemma for all the three of them? --El bes (talk) 15:21, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

There is obviously a lot of overlap but not all scholars support this hypothesis therefore its best kept separate. However the discussion is more than just on "substrate" so the title needs changing or a general lemma used. Adresia (talk) 12:49, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

Creole references[edit]

I deleted "The boundary case where neither language quite succeeds in displacing the other results in a Creole." There are many competing theories as toward creolgenesis and this describes none of them, at least not at all accurately enough. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:14, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

Name change[edit]

Substratum → Stratum (linguistics)

The page is not only about substrata - it also deals with superstrata and adstrata too. However, the current name of the page seems to suggest that this takes preference over the others. Mingeyqla (talk) 16:00, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

fact check?[edit]

Re: When one language succeeds another, the former is termed the superstratum and the latter the substratum. In the case of French, for example, Vulgar Latin is the superstrate and Gaulic is the substrate.

is it saying that vulgar latin succeeded French? I am not sure I am reading it correctly. Is the meaning that vulgar latin is the superstrate of French? (talk) 22:57, 7 May 2009 (UTC)

It means that Vulgar Latin is the superstrate of French. On the other hand, Gaulish has very little influence on French. Frankish is the substrate. Munci (talk) 08:14, 8 May 2009 (UTC)

This article needs to differentiate between the superstrate and the resulting language. For example, we should say that French contains a Vulgar Latin superstrate and a Gaulish/Frankish substrate. This matters not only because French is different from Vulgar Latin, but also because the resulting language does not have to descend from the superstrate; the result can also be a creole, or a descendant of the substrate (tho I've rarely seen the term "substrate" used in that case). --Trɔpʏliʊmblah 09:46, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Uhmm, Latin was introduced to Gaul long before Frankish was. Frankish is a classical example of a superstrate: In Northern Gaul, it was the language of the élite from the 6th to the 9th century or so, while Old French (or older stages of it) were spoken by the remaining majority of the population. If Gaulish was still spoken at the time of the Frankish conquest, it was certainly on the brink of extinction at the time. In most of Gaul, Frankish eventually disappeared, but it can hardly be called a substrate because it was never a language of the lower classes (except perhaps for occasional settlements of Frankish peasants which may have existed, but I don't know anything about that). In the northeast, along the Rhine, the development was different, though: Here, French/Romance was the substrate, and eventually disappeared in the course of the Early Middle Ages, being replaced by Franconian dialects. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 01:28, 31 October 2011 (UTC)


I do not agree to the definition "An adstratum (...) refers to a language which is equal in prestige to another." Are French and German adstrates ? Are Dutch and Rumanian adstrates? (it's hard to say which of the two has more prestige). Rather, adstrata are two languages that are spoken "side by side", either in one community, or in a small area (in Western Switzerland, German can be considered as an adstrate of French, though not in France). And it seems a bit speculative to talk of the respective prestige of English and Norse in Medieval Britain. --Zxly (talk) 15:31, 10 March 2012 (UTC)


I wonder if it's accurate to say that stratum with this meaning is the Latin word for "layer". It may as well be an English back-formation like burger. That is: first, the word substratum "underlayer", which already existed in the language, was used metaphorically in a linguistic sense. Then, the word superstratum was created on its model as the opposite of it. Then the word adstratum was coined to refer to a third possible situation. Finally, stratum was extracted from these words as a cover term. I'm not even sure if the creation of the three specific terms took place in English, in French (substrat etc.) or in German (Substrat etc.). In these two languages, on the other hand, the cover term strat, Strat is not or hardly used. --Zxly (talk) 15:49, 10 March 2012 (UTC)

Adstratum (or Adstrat in German, where, as you correctly state, Strat is not in use) can also be used as a cover term, when it is not clear (or of secondary importance) what the relationship between the languages in question was like. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 20:44, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

History of concept[edit]

Should be something about how this was overused in the early 20th century, when many scholars were quick to propose a hypothetical "substratum" to supposedly explain every historical linguistic anomaly or enigma... AnonMoos (talk) 19:24, 24 May 2012 (UTC)

Turning to the real history of the concept: This has originally been developed by Graziadio Isaia Ascoli (1829-1907), hence the Romance touch of the word. I regrettably do not have his studies at hand. HJJHolm (talk) 07:19, 26 May 2014 (UTC)


From all I know Modern English is not a romance language nor is it regarded as creole so is it fair to say that Middle English is substrate language of an Old French superstrate ? I do not think it is valid and I am thinking about deleting it from the list but I wish to hear other counter arguments to why it should be in the list for me it is as stupid to have Middle Persian as substrate language with Arabic superstrate resulting in Modern Persian. — Preceding unsigned comment added by JK flower (talkcontribs) 01:22, 21 July 2012 (UTC)

I recommend that you mark the examples you question with {{citation needed}}. Give editors a reasonable amount of time to come up with a citation that backs up the claim and remove if if no sources are brought to the table. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 02:34, 21 July 2012 (UTC)

Altaic influence on Chinese[edit]

Similarly, some scholars suggest that the Chinese language of Northern China underwent Altaicization to different degrees,

Yep, and "Altaicisation" in this context can mean nothing else than Altaic contacts/substrata in Chinese.

though this has also been attributed to contact, specifically substrate effects.Hashimoto (1986), Janhunen (1996), McWhorter (2007).

Uhm, that's exactly the idea. Where is the contradiction?

However, the existence of Altaic itself as a valid genetic taxon remains debated.Georg, Stefan, Peter A. Michalove, Alexis Manaster Ramer, and Paul J. Sidwell. 1999. "Telling general linguists about Altaic." Journal of Linguistics 35:65–98.

True, but irrelevant. "Altaic" in this context refers to the areal group. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 20:40, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

Ah, OK. The section is talking about Altaic superstrates. I have now tried to clarify the matter. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 21:00, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

Portuguese Substatum?[edit]

Portuguese (Superstrate) and Lusitanian (Substrate) should be included in the Notable Examples list. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:14, 9 June 2013 (UTC)