What would the most efficient way for a language to spread over a large area over a short period of time (about 600 years)? Imagine this is a medieval type world, and the goal is to spread the language from say, New York down to Florida (basically just the east coast).
History has shown three major ways of spreading culture (and therefore, our language):
- Conquest: Through warfare, the tribe that speaks language A can conquer language B and C speaking tribes. By forcing them to work as slaves in the field and only giving them basic rights if they learn language A, over many generations, the captured peoples would learn how to speak language A. This can occur on a small scale (within tribes), or on a much larger scale (British India spread English all throughout the subcontinent).
Pros: Quick and easy. Guaranteed language spreading.
Cons: Lots of people dying. A fairly large price to pay if you're a small tribe trying to spread your language.
- Survival of the Fittest: This is a far more passive approach. Through farming and sustainable agriculture, the tribe that speaks language A can spread its language by simply surviving. When other tribes around this group are dying of starvation and disease, this small yet well-developed society has enough food and medicine to go around for everyone. After most people in surrounding tribes are dead, this tribe can claim this land as farmland, and as such, any survivors of the dying tribes will be forced to learn language A.
Pros: Far fewer deaths.
Cons: Not guaranteed language spreading; what if other tribes flourish as well? what if this tribe is conquered by another or dies out? Also, farmers tend to be isolated so language spreading can be quiet difficult at times.
- Trade/Missionaries: Through trade, the tribe that speaks language A can spread its language. Basically, merchants go by foot/horse/ship to any remote trading post to trade their goods. In the process, the people they are trading with will need to create new words for items not in their language (Example: squash and skunk are two words that were added into English after trading with Native Americans. Squashes and skunks did not exist in England, so they didn't have a word for either of them). In addition, some of these merchants may permanently choose to live near the trading post. By doing this, the merchants are peacefully inducting their language into a foreign society. Over time, as this minority becomes the majority, language A dominates. Also, by spreading their religion, missionaries indirectly force new adherents to learn a new language if that religion is dominated by a certain language (language A).
Pros: No one is dying.
Cons: Definitely not guaranteed diffusion; what if the minority never becomes a majority?
My question is, Which one of these methods is the most effective/efficient way to spread a language over a large area over a time of about 600 years? Take into account human lives lost, any costs involved, and how much time it would take for this language to be in widespread use in a foreign land. Cheers!