Sociolinguistics

Dialect

Characteristics of the dialects

DIALECT

It is known as a dialect to the linguistic system that derives from another but does not exhibit sufficient differentiation from others of common origin. Dialects, therefore, are usually considered in relation to a set of several linguistic systems of a common trunk or that are in the same geographical boundary. Another definition of dialect refers to the linguistic structure that does not reach the social category of language .

If you want to know what the dialect is, you have to take into account that it is a regional variant that shows a language that is spoken in large geographical areas , but that does not affect the linguistic system of that language. This means that the dialect is simply a variant of the language in a specific geographical area.

Some linguists have expressed that the word dialect is a language modality that is used by a small group of speakers and does not reach the language category . A clear example of this is Murcia. Murcia is a variant of Spanish spoken by a small group of people in a specific geographical area. Despite having its differences, Murcia does not modify the Spanish language in any of its variants and does not have the category of language.

Characteristics of the dialects

Dialects, like language, have their own characteristics that help to understand their definition:

  • The dialect must not show a great differentiation of the main language from which it derives. At least not in the structural plane. Yes it can be differentiated in its oral form.
  • A dialect is, in short, a sociocultural element that helps different speaking groups communicate with each other.
  • On some occasions, the dialect is used “pejoratively”. A clear example of this is the Andalusian. The Andalusian is one of the richest dialects that exist in the Spanish language and, even so, speaking with certain characteristics of the Andalusian dialect (such as ceceo), is considered a derogatory and mocking act.
  • There are two types of dialects, geographical and social . The geographical dialect is the variation of the same language that occurs in different populations that speak it and that arises as a result of the passage of time and geographical separation. On the other hand, the social dialect is the variation of the same language depending on the social stratum to which the speaker belongs.

How to recognize a dialect

Now that you know what a dialect is, let’s find out how to recognize it. And how do you know if two dialects come from the same language? Although it seems a complex task, we just have to take into account some points that give us clues about it:

  • Common writing : Although dialects do not have a written structure, two dialects share the same writing, that of the common language. In addition, they also usually have a common literary tradition. The Andalusian and Murcia, for example, are two dialects that come from the Spanish language, while Catalan is not a dialect because it has a literary tradition, a grammar and an official form of writing.
  • Shared geography : dialects, in addition, usually share the same geographical area and, as a general rule, the same political unit, at present or at some point in history.
  • Common ground : two dialects of the same language may be different in appearance. However, they will present a common terrain or characteristics that will help them to recognize and understand each other. An Asturian can be understood perfectly with an Andalusian despite having two completely different dialect units.

Properties of the dialect

Dialects, despite being a modality of the language , have their properties by living several dialects in the same geographical area. Which are?

  • Local properties : dialects belong to a specific group of speakers of a language. Of course, other speakers of that same language can understand or recognize it as part of the same language. Example: an Andalusian can be understood perfectly with a canary, despite having different dialects since the same language is shared, Spanish.
  • Historical properties : each dialect has its own historical development that characterizes it.
  • Contextual properties : depending on the context of use, the dialect of the same area is presented in one way or another. A person who works in the field will not speak the same Andalusian dialect as someone who is in the university, for example. In addition, it is also necessary to take into account registration (formal, informal or colloquial), language proficiency or personal style.

How to recognize a language

In order to correctly recognize a dialect, we must first recognize what a language is. Language is the coding system that allows an understanding between two people. That is, it is part of the communicative process that must be handled by both the sender and the receiver. For this to be possible, the language must have a number of characteristics:

  • Collective : language cannot be spoken by a single individual. It must be used by a community that, in turn, use the different dialects depending on the area in which they are located. Spanish, which is the language, has several dialects that are spread throughout the Spanish territory and by some of the countries of South America. On the peninsula we find, for example, Murcia, Andalusian, Canary, Manchego or Extremadura. It is necessary to clarify that Galician, Catalan and Euskera are not dialects of Spanish, but are recognized languages. Hence, it is said that four different languages ​​coexist in Spain.
  • Solid : a language is basically a linguistic model. It is made up of norms and these cannot be changed. In Spanish, for example, after period we always use uppercase. That is one of the norms that cannot be changed within the Spanish language. Even so, for the dialects to exist, the language must have a certain flexibility when it comes to being spoken than not written. We can pronounce servesa, something common in the Andalusian dialect of Seville, but we cannot write it with that spelling. We must write beer, regardless of geographic location.

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