According to jknappen, there's a dialect continuum stretching from Rome to Lisbon without interruption. This is a wonderfully interesting piece of trivia that I wouldn't have believed before seeing the answer.

But are there longer dialect continua anywhere in the world? "Longer" can mean either geographical distance, or dissimilarity between the languages at its endpoints—or preferably both.

  • 5
    Cree, Arabic and Western Desert Language are all very long/wide dialect continuums. Chinese probably was in the past, but I don't know how much standard Mandarin has dissolved that.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 5:44
  • Some more candidates for maximal linguistic distance: Indoarian languages of India, Pakistan, Bangla Desh and Myanmar, Bantu languages in Africa Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 10:56
  • @jknappen. A quibble: It is "Indoaryan" not "Indoarian". The Arians were an early Christian sect.
    – fdb
    Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 11:50
  • @fdb Guessing the correct English spelling from a German term is always risky. Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 13:43
  • See this fine map commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/…
    – vectory
    Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 14:36

1 Answer 1


For geographical distance, I think a Slavonic dialect continuum from the westernmost dialects of Czech via Slovak, Ruthenian, Ukrainian, Southern Russian, and Russian up to Vladivostok cannot be beaten.

Because Slavonic languages are still relatively close to each other, it can probably be beaten in terms of linguistic distance.

  • 1
    It's also interrupted, by large stretches of tundra unless the coast is where its at, I wouldn't know. Similar could be said about anything africa, the desert and rainforest.
    – vectory
    Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 13:54
  • 4
    There is a chain of Russian settlements along the Transsiberian Railroad, it does not run along the cost of the Artic Ocean. Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 14:23

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.