Sociolinguistics

Dialects and their types and properties in detail

Dialects

A dialect or dialect variant is one of the possible manifestations of a specific language or language. It occurs within the framework of a specific context (usually geographical) and does not present radical differences with respect to the language that make understanding impossible. Dialects and their types and properties

In other words, dialects are each of the specific ways of speaking a language that is distinguished in their speech, although they belong to the same system of meanings and the same grammatical logic, that is, to the same language.

It is not easy to distinguish the dialects of a language from each other, nor is it easy to determine who speaks a language and who speaks a dialect. These distinctions are generally of a socio-political, rather than a linguistic, kind, since “neutral” or objective forms do not really exist in verbal language.

Differences between dialect  a language

  1. In principle, a language is the sum of all the dialects, styles, variants, and manifestations in which its speakers put it into practice.
  2. In that sense, a language is an abstraction.
  3. This means that dialects form a sector within the order of the language, that is, they are an internal category, but not for that reason negligible or of lesser value.
  4. It could be said that if the language is an ideal way of speaking, each dialect is a real way of doing it.

Types of Dialects

Two types of dialect are recognized:

1-Geographical

Called “diatopic variants” or “geolects”, they are the variations of the same language that take place in the different populations that speak it, as a consequence of the passage of time and geographical separation. Dialects and their types and properties

2-Social

Called “diastratic variants” or “sociolects”, they are the variations of the same language that take place between different strata, social classes, professions, or social and cultural circuits.

Importance of Dialects

  1. Dialects are the language in its most alive state.
  2. They are the specific way in which we practitioners of a language speak, attending to our historical, cultural, and anthropological context, that is, making the language a reflection of our existence.
  3. Far from being a secondary category, dialects are the “truth” of the language.

Dialect characteristics

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

  • The dialect should not show much differentiation from the main language from which it is derived. At least not structurally. Yes, it can be differentiated in its oral form.
  • A dialect is, in short, a sociocultural element that helps different speaking groups to communicate with each other.
  • Sometimes the dialect is used in a “pejorative” way. A clear example of this is the Andalusian. 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 lisp), is considered a pejorative and mocking act.
  • There are two types of dialects, the geographic and the social . The geographical dialect is the variation of the same language that occurs in different populations that speak it and that arises as a consequence 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 only have to take into account a few points that give us clues about it:

  • Common writing: although the dialects do not have a written structure, two dialects share the same writing, that of the common language. In addition, they also tend to have a common literary tradition. Andalusian and Murcian, for example, are two dialects that come from the Spanish language, while Catalan is not a dialect as it has a literary tradition, grammar and an official form of writing.
  • Shared geography: dialects also tend to share the same geographical area and, as a general rule, the same political unit, in the present or at some point in history.
  • Common ground: two dialects of the same language can 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 will be able to understand perfectly with an Andalusian despite having two completely different dialect units.

Dialect properties

The dialects, despite being a form of the language , have their properties when several dialects coexist in the same geographical area. Which are?

  • Local properties : dialects belong to a specific group of speakers of a language. Of course, the rest of the speakers of the same language will be able to understand or recognize it as part of the same language. Example: an Andalusian will be able to understand perfectly with a Canary, despite having different dialects since they share the same language, 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 fields will not speak the same Andalusian dialect as another who is in university, for example. In addition, it is also necessary to take into account the register (formal, informal or colloquial), the command of the language or the personal style.

Examples of dialects

Some examples of dialects are:

  • From Italian. Tuscan, Piedmontese, Sardinian, Abruzzo, Milanese, Pugliese, etc.
  • From French. Haitian Creole, Cajun, Camfranglais, West Indian Creole, Quebec French, etc.
  • From Chinese-Mandarin.  Yángzhöu dialect, Xï’än dialect, Chéngdü dialect, etc.

Dialects and their types and properties

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