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I've always just used the term "homeland effect" for this, but websearches suggest that that is not actually its name and probably something I made up at some point.

What I'm talking about is definitely a recognised effect that actually happens--I'm certain I learned about it from a reputable source some years ago, just can't recall what that source was or what they called it. It's the reason that dialects vary so wildly in the British Isles compared to in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, where the English language was only introduced comparatively recently. I've also heard it said that this applies to other languages as well, like European French and Canadian French or European Spanish and Latin American Spanish, but since I don't speak any of those languages I can't comment on its accuracy.

  • I question that. I am fortunate enough to have been born in South-central Pennsylvania, the only place in the USA where people speak English the Right Way. Everywhere else they have accents. – Conrado Aug 3 at 16:21
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    @Conrado You don't get variation as severe as that between, for instance, a London accent and an Edinburgh accent in the US, though, and certainly not between two places as close together as that. In the UK they even have Scots, a dialect/language that's so distinct from standard English that people will argue with you about whether it even counts as English! (and yes, I realize your comment is at least somewhat facetious.) – Hearth Aug 3 at 16:24
  • Straightforward natural selection without mixing. It's the same phenomenon as species evolution (only much much faster, of course); diversity collects in habitats over long periods, as long as there's not much mixing (which is the case for all human cultures before modern times, for a relevant instance, in England up till printing arrived). Consequently there's more English speech variation in any 100 mile square of England than there is in all of North America. They've just been speaking it longer there, that's all. – jlawler Aug 4 at 1:57
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    @jlawler Yeah, I understand the reasoning behind it--I'm just looking for if there's a word for it. Unless you mean to say that "straightforward natural selection without mixing" is the technical term? Bit of a mouthful, that, but if it is, please do post that as an answer! – Hearth Aug 4 at 11:35
  • Specifically from population genetics, there is the concept of centre of diversity or centre of origin, originally coined for plant domestication by Vavilov. – Michaelyus Aug 6 at 8:39

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