Language Key Terms Menu

By Ashley H. and Emma S.

Standard Language

A dialect in a language that has many dialects that is well known and recognized by all speakers of that language.

Example: British Received Pronounciation (BRP)


A regional variation of a language that has slightly different vocabulary, pronounciation, and spelling.

Example: The American southern dialect uses the word y'all


A vernacular boundary that separates regions where certain words are used.

Example: In the Midwest, people call soda pop, while in the south people call it coke.

Language family

Group of languages that share a common ancestral language that was spoken before written history.

Example: The Indo-European Language Family

Language branch

A group of languages that has a common ancestral language that existed thousands of years ago. These are not as extensive and old as language families.

Example: The Germanic Language Branch

Language Group

A group of languages that share a common ancestral language from a relatively recent time. These languages have few differences in vocabulary and grammar.

Example: The West Germanic Language Group

Creole/Creolized Language

A language that resulted from the mixing of a location's native language and the language of those who colonized it.

Example: French Creole

Extinct Language

A language no longer spoken or read by anyone alive on a daily basis.

Example: Old Prussian

Isolated Language

A language that is not related to any other languages and therefore isn't in a language family.

Example: Basque

Lingua Franca

A language that is used to communicate internationally.

Examples: English

Pidgin Langauge

A simplified version of a lingua franca.

Example: English learned in other countries