Linguistic variation are the changes that the language presents , due to its ability to transform and adapt. Language variations occur because the language is used by speakers inserted in a complex society, formed by different social groups, with different cultural habits and different levels of schooling.
Linguistic variations occur in geographic, temporal, social and situational areas:
- Regional or geographic variation (diatopic) : linguistic variations existing between different places and regions.
- Historical variation (diachronic) : linguistic variations existing between different times, from the most archaic to the most modern.
- Social variation (diastratic) : linguistic variations existing between different social groups.
- Situational variation (diaphasic) : existing linguistic variations according to the situation or context of the communicative act, from the most informal to the most formal.
Usage makes the rule and speakers use the language in order to meet their communicative needs, adapting it according to their intentions and needs. Thus, the Portuguese language is constantly changing, evolving and updating, not being a static and closed system.
Check out the different types of linguistic variation and examples:
Regional or geographic linguistic variation (diatopic)
Diatopic variations, also called regional or geographic variations , are variations that occur according to where the speakers live, suffering their influence. This type of variation occurs because different regions have different cultures, with different habits, manners and traditions, thus establishing different linguistic structures.
Examples of diatopic variations
Different words for the same concepts :
- cassava, manioc, cassava;
- pumpkin, jerimum, pumpkin;
- bagel, dindim, ice cream;
- geek, foosball, table football;
- custard apple, custard apple, ata, custard apple.
Different accents, dialects and speeches :
- hillbilly dialect;
- gaucho dialect;
- Bahian dialect;
- carioca dialect;
- mountain dialect;
- northeastern dialect.
Word reductions and loss or change of phonemes :
- old (old);
- hi (look);
- muié (female);
- sing (sing);
- trousseau (layette);
- oncotô (where am I);
- pertim (nearby);
- let’s go (let’s go)
Historical linguistic variation (diachronic)
Diachronic variations, also called historical variations , are variations that occur according to the different times lived by the speakers, making it possible to distinguish archaic Portuguese from modern Portuguese, as well as several words that are in disuse.
Examples of diachronic variations
Words that have fallen into disuse :
Spellings that have fallen into disuse :
Vocabulary and expressions typical of a certain age group :
- You are a shitty bastard!
- He’s the biggest barber.
- Go pick up a little coke.
- This quindim is superb!
- I think there’s a marmot there…
- He slapped his cousin.
Social linguistic variation (diastratic)
Diastratic variations, also called social variations , are variations that occur according to the habits and culture of different social groups. This type of variation occurs because different social groups have different knowledge, modes of action and communication systems.
Examples of diastratic variations
Slang typical of a group with a common interest , such as skaters:
- I prefer freestyle.
- The gringo has an awesome cart.
- The silk of the skate is insane.
Jargon specific to a professional group , such as the police and military:
- He gave soup on the ridge.
- Let’s go on his route.
- Don’t mess with my fish.
Language shared by a specific group , such as the LGBTQIA+ community:
- I’m out of here, honey! I can’t go to the concert!
- So, did you leave the house to come here and woo me?
- This boy only knows how to do Alice, he lives in the moon world!
Situational linguistic variation (diaphasic)
Diaphasic variations, also called situational variations , are variations that occur according to the context or situation in which the communicative process takes place. There are times when a formal record is used and others when an informal record is used.
Examples of diaphasic variations
Informal language , considered less prestigious and cultured, used when there is familiarity between the communication interlocutors or in relaxed situations.
- Speak, boy! Beauty?
- Is there a cinema today?
- Where’s Pedro? Did you see him?
- We like him.
- Where are you looking?
- Way to go, Luisa!
Formal language , considered more prestigious and cultured, used when there is no familiarity between the communication interlocutors or in situations that require greater seriousness.
- Good morning! Are you all right?
- Do you want to go to the cinema today?
- Where is Pedro? Have you seen it?
- We like him.
- Where are you looking?
- Thank you very much, Luisa!
Linguistic Variation and Linguistic Prejudice
Linguistic prejudice arises because not all linguistic variations enjoy the same prestige. Some are considered superior, more correct and cultured and others are considered less cultured or even incorrect.
Linguistic prejudice occurs whenever a certain variety is referred to with a pejorative and derogatory tone, being associated with situations of mockery or even violence, which contributes to the social exclusion of various individuals and groups.
It is urgent to understand and accept that all linguistic varieties are factors of enrichment and culture, and should not be seen as errors or deviations.