The isonymy structure of Germany was studied using the surname distributions of 5,150,310 private telephone users selected from 39,000,000 users registered in a 1996 commercial CD-ROM, which contains all telephone users in the country. The users were distributed in 106 towns selected on a geographic basis. Germany was subdivided into 50 adjacent rectangles, each 115 X 80 km, and at least the largest town in the rectangle was selected for study; the private telephone users in that district were downloaded from the CD-ROM and included in the analysis. The shortest distance between nearest neighbor towns was 10.7 km (Travemunde and Liibeck), and the largest distance was 69.8 km (Meppen and Osnabruck). The number of different surnames found in the whole analysis was 462,526. Lasker’s distance, the negative value of the logarithm of isonymy between localities, was found to be linearly and significantly correlated with geographic distance (r = 0.51 ± 0.010). A dendrogram was built with the matrix of isonymy distances, using UPGMA. This method separates the German towns into two main clusters, one in the southern half of the country and the other in the northern half. Within each cluster small subclusters with specific geographic distributions could be delimited. The two main clusters correspond fairly well to the north-south division of German sublanguages (Nieder- and Mitteldeutsch in the north vs. Frankisch-Alemannisch in the south). The other clusters are related to minor sublanguages. Comparisons with the results of a previous analysis of Switzerland’s structure are given. From the present analysis isolation by distance emerges clearly, although it is less strong than in Switzerland and indicates that Germany has a fairly homogeneous isonymy structure. The random component of inbreeding estimated from isonymy indicates that eastern Germany is on average more inbred than western Germany.
Rodriguez-Larralde, A.; Barrai, I.; Nesti, C.; Mamolini, E.; and Scapoli, C.
"Isonymy and Isolation by Distance in Germany,"
6, Article 6.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/humbiol/vol70/iss6/6