September 25, 2009
Romani is split up in a great number of dialects and dialect groups, but it is not clear when and under what circumstances linguistic diversification took place. It is controversial whether innovations mainly spread by “diffusion” over a once homogeneous continuum or were transported to other places mainly by the split-up of groups of speakers and subsequent migration. The diffusion model explains diversification in general, but it cannot explain how mere diffusion would bring about the emergence of well-delimited dialect groups or families. Most probably, differentiation began very early accumulating during the European history of the language, effected both by linguistic (innovations and diffusion of innovations) and extralinguistic (split and migration) processes.