Is there a word for a "language community," especially a minority language embedded with in a larger one?

For example, speakers of Catalán, Irish Gaelic, or perhaps immigrant groups that form communities such as Little Italy or Chinatown?

My mind always reaches for "sprachbund," but that's not correct.

  • "speech community" is the normal term I think. It would be better than "language community" because it doesn't suggest that the community is marked by speaking a language (rather than a dialect or variety etc.)
    – curiousdannii
    Sep 14, 2016 at 14:52
  • @xxxxxx en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speech_community
    – curiousdannii
    Sep 14, 2016 at 14:59
  • @curiousdannii - good job, don't forget to support what you say with reliable reference.
    – Mr. Black
    Sep 14, 2016 at 15:00
  • 1
    If you want a word with Sprach-, then perhaps Sprachgemeinschaft (lit community) or Sprachinsel. Sep 14, 2016 at 18:25
  • 1
    @A.M.Bittlingmayer After reading the WP page on Sprachinsel I would totally accept that answer if it was used in any literature. Sep 30, 2016 at 22:24

2 Answers 2


The normal term is speech community.

This has the advantage over "language community" in that it can be used for communities for which the common factor isn't that they all speak some language, but also for communities which speak a particular dialect, or even some minor language variation.

The term is used to focus on identifiable communities of people with shared behaviours. In a context where two languages are in contact, many speakers will be L1 speakers of one language and L2 speakers of the other. Categorising people by the languages they know and speak is not likely to be very productive because of the overlaps. Instead distinct speech communities can be identified based on the languages its members speak at home, in school, in the workplace, the languages they hear on TV etc.


You may consider the term enclave:

  • any small, distinct area or group enclosed or isolated within a larger one: a Chinese-speaking enclave in London.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.