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This article is about dialects of spoken and written languages. Dialect_sentence_0

For other uses, see Dialect (disambiguation). Dialect_sentence_1

The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , diálektos, "discourse", from , diá, "through" and , légō, "I speak") is used in two distinct ways to refer to two different types of linguistic phenomena: Dialect_sentence_2


  • One usage refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers. Under this definition, the dialects or varieties of a particular language are closely related and, despite their differences, are most often largely mutually intelligible, especially if close to one another on the dialect continuum. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors, such as social class or ethnicity. A dialect that is associated with a particular social class can be termed a sociolect, a dialect that is associated with a particular ethnic group can be termed an ethnolect, and a geographical/regional dialect may be termed a regiolect (alternative terms include 'regionalect', 'geolect', and 'topolect'). According to this definition, any variety of a given language can be classified as "a dialect", including any standardized varieties. In this case, the distinction between the "standard language" (i.e. the "standard" dialect of a particular language) and the "nonstandard" (vernacular) dialects of the same language is often arbitrary and based on social, political, cultural, or historical considerations or prevalence and prominence. In a similar way, the definitions of the terms "language" and "dialect" may overlap and are often subject to debate, with the differentiation between the two classifications often grounded in arbitrary or sociopolitical motives. The term "dialect" is however sometimes restricted to mean "non-standard variety", particularly in non-specialist settings and non-English linguistic traditions.Dialect_item_0_0
  • The other usage of the term "dialect", specific to colloquial settings in a few countries like Italy (see ), France (see ) and the Philippines, carries a pejorative undertone and underlines the politically and socially subordinated status of a non-national language to the country's single official language. In other words, these "dialects" are not actual dialects in the same sense as in the first usage, as they do not derive from the politically dominant language and are therefore not one of its varieties, but they evolved in a separate and parallel way and may thus better fit various parties’ criteria for a separate language. Despite this, these "dialects" may often be historically cognate and share genetic roots in the same subfamily as the dominant national language and may even, to a varying degree, share some mutual intelligibility with the latter. In this sense, unlike in the first usage, the national language would not itself be considered a "dialect", as it is the dominant language in a particular state, be it in terms of linguistic prestige, social or political (e.g. official) status, predominance or prevalence, or all of the above. The term "dialect" used this way implies a political connotation, being mostly used to refer to low-prestige languages (regardless of their actual degree of distance from the national language), languages lacking institutional support, or those perceived as "unsuitable for writing". The designation "dialect" is also used popularly to refer to the unwritten or non-codified languages of developing countries or isolated areas, where the term "vernacular language" would be preferred by linguists.Dialect_item_0_1

Features that distinguish dialects from each other can be found in lexicon (vocabulary) and grammar, as well as in pronunciation (phonology, including prosody). Dialect_sentence_3

Where the salient distinctions are only or mostly to be observed in pronunciation, the more specific term accent may be used instead of dialect. Dialect_sentence_4

Differences that are largely concentrated in lexicon may be creoles in their own right. Dialect_sentence_5

When lexical differences are mostly concentrated in the specialized vocabulary of a profession or other organization, they are jargons; differences in vocabulary that are deliberately cultivated to exclude outsiders or to serve as shibboleths are known as cryptolects (or "cant") and include slangs and argots. Dialect_sentence_6

The particular speech patterns used by an individual are referred to as that person's idiolect. Dialect_sentence_7

Dialects do not always correspond with a standard written system this is the case for most spoken dialects. Dialect_sentence_8

For example, spoken dialects of the Arabic Language do not have their own writing system that is distinguishable from other dialects. Dialect_sentence_9

However, these dialects are not always mutually intelligible from one another. Dialect_sentence_10

For example, speakers of the Levantine Dialect of Arabic may have trouble understanding speakers of the Egyptian Dialect. Dialect_sentence_11

This leads to some debate among scholars of the status of Arabic dialects as their own regionalects or their own separate languages. Dialect_sentence_12

To classify subsets of language as dialects, linguists take into account linguistic distance. Dialect_sentence_13

Standard and non-standard dialect Dialect_section_0

A standard dialect (also known as a "standardized dialect" or "standard language") is a dialect that is supported by institutions. Dialect_sentence_14

Such institutional support may include any or all of the following: government recognition or designation; formal presentation in schooling as the "correct" form of a language; informal monitoring and policing of everyday usage; published grammars, dictionaries, and textbooks that set forth a normative spoken and written form; and/or an extensive formal literature that employs that variety (prose, poetry, non-fiction, etc.). Dialect_sentence_15

There may be multiple standard dialects associated with a single language. Dialect_sentence_16

For example, Standard American English, Standard British English, Standard Canadian English, Standard Indian English, Standard Australian English, and Standard Philippine English may all be said to be standard dialects of the English language. Dialect_sentence_17

A nonstandard dialect, like a standard dialect, has a complete grammar and vocabulary, but is usually not the beneficiary of institutional support. Dialect_sentence_18

Examples of a nonstandard English dialect are Southern American English, Western Australian English, New York English, New England English, Mid-Atlantic American or Philadelphia / Baltimore English, Scouse, Brummie, Cockney, and Tyke. Dialect_sentence_19

The Dialect Test was designed by Joseph Wright to compare different English dialects with each other. Dialect_sentence_20

Dialect or language Dialect_section_1

See also: Abstand and ausbau languages and A language is a dialect with an army and navy Dialect_sentence_21

Dialect and accent Dialect_section_2

John Lyons writes that "Many linguists [...] subsume differences of accent under differences of dialect." Dialect_sentence_22

In general, accent refers to variations in pronunciation, while dialect also encompasses specific variations in grammar and vocabulary. Dialect_sentence_23

Examples Dialect_section_3

See also: Mesoamerican languages § Language vs. dialect Dialect_sentence_24

Arabic Dialect_section_4

Main article: Arabic Language Dialect_sentence_25

See also: Varieties of Arabic Dialect_sentence_26

There are around three geographical zones in which Arabic is spoken (Jastrow 2002). Dialect_sentence_27

Zone I is categorized as the area in which Arabic was spoken before the rise of Islam, it is the Arabian Peninsula, excluding the areas where southern Arabian was spoken. Dialect_sentence_28

Zone II is categorized as the areas to which Arabic speaking peoples moved as a result of the conquests of Islam. Dialect_sentence_29

Included in zone II are the Levant, Egypt, North Africa, Iraq, and some parts of Iran. Dialect_sentence_30

Zone III are the areas in which Arabic is spoken that are located outside the continuous Arabic Language area. Dialect_sentence_31

There is a large amount of documentation of the Arabic dialects of Zone II. Dialect_sentence_32

Among these dialects are the Levant or Levantine Dialect. Dialect_sentence_33

This includes Syrian dialect. Dialect_sentence_34

Egyptian and Sudanese dialects are also widely spoken and studied. Dialect_sentence_35

German Dialect_section_5

See also: German dialects Dialect_sentence_36

When talking about the German language, the term German dialects is only used for the traditional regional varieties. Dialect_sentence_37

That allows them to be distinguished from the regional varieties of modern standard German. Dialect_sentence_38

The German dialects show a wide spectrum of variation. Dialect_sentence_39

Some of them are not mutually intelligible. Dialect_sentence_40

German dialectology traditionally names the major dialect groups after Germanic tribes from which they were assumed to have descended. Dialect_sentence_41

The extent to which the dialects are spoken varies according to a number of factors: In Northern Germany, dialects are less common than in the South. Dialect_sentence_42

In cities, dialects are less common than in the countryside. Dialect_sentence_43

In a public environment, dialects are less common than in a familiar environment. Dialect_sentence_44

The situation in Switzerland and Liechtenstein is different from the rest of the German-speaking countries. Dialect_sentence_45

The Swiss German dialects are the default everyday language in virtually every situation, whereas standard German is only spoken in education, partially in media, and with foreigners not possessing knowledge of Swiss German. Dialect_sentence_46

Most Swiss German speakers perceive standard German to be a foreign language. Dialect_sentence_47

The Low German and Low Franconian varieties spoken in Germany are often counted among the German dialects. Dialect_sentence_48

This reflects the modern situation where they are roofed by standard German. Dialect_sentence_49

This is different from the situation in the Middle Ages when Low German had strong tendencies towards an ausbau language. Dialect_sentence_50

The Frisian languages spoken in Germany are excluded from the German dialects. Dialect_sentence_51

Italy Dialect_section_6

Main article: Italian dialects Dialect_sentence_52

Italy is an often quoted example of a country where the second definition of the word "dialect" (dialetto) is most prevalent. Dialect_sentence_53

Italy is in fact home to a vast array of separate languages, most of which lack mutual intelligibility with one another and have their own local varieties; twelve of them (Albanian, Catalan, German, Greek, Slovene, Croatian, French, Franco-Provençal, Friulian, Ladin, Occitan and Sardinian) underwent Italianization to a varying degree (ranging from the currently endangered state displayed by Sardinian and Southern Italian Greek to the vigorous promotion of Germanic Tyrolean), but have been officially recognized as minority languages (minoranze linguistiche storiche), in light of their distinctive historical development. Dialect_sentence_54

Yet, most of the regional languages spoken across the peninsula are often colloquially referred to in non-linguistic circles as Italian dialetti, since most of them, including the prestigious Neapolitan, Sicilian and Venetian, have adopted vulgar Tuscan as their reference language since the Middle Ages. Dialect_sentence_55

However, all these languages evolved from Vulgar Latin in parallel with Italian, long prior to the popular diffusion of the latter throughout what is now Italy. Dialect_sentence_56

During the Risorgimento, Italian still existed mainly as a literary language, and only 2.5% of Italy's population could speak Italian. Dialect_sentence_57

Proponents of Italian nationalism, like the Lombard Alessandro Manzoni, stressed the importance of establishing a uniform national language in order to better create an Italian national identity. Dialect_sentence_58

With the unification of Italy in the 1860s, Italian became the official national language of the new Italian state, while the other ones came to be institutionally regarded as "dialects" subordinate to Italian, and negatively associated with a lack of education. Dialect_sentence_59

In the early 20th century, the vast conscription of Italian men from all throughout Italy during World War I is credited with having facilitated the diffusion of Italian among the less educated conscripted soldiers, as these men, who had been speaking various regional languages up until then, found themselves forced to communicate with each other in a common tongue while serving in the Italian military. Dialect_sentence_60

With the popular spread of Italian out of the intellectual circles, because of the mass-media and the establishment of public education, Italians from all regions were increasingly exposed to Italian. Dialect_sentence_61

While dialect levelling has increased the number of Italian speakers and decreased the number of speakers of other languages native to Italy, Italians in different regions have developed variations of standard Italian specific to their region. Dialect_sentence_62

These variations of standard Italian, known as "regional Italian", would thus more appropriately be called dialects in accordance with the first linguistic definition of the term, as they are in fact derived from Italian, with some degree of influence from the local or regional native languages and accents. Dialect_sentence_63

The most widely spoken languages of Italy, which are not to be confused with regional Italian, fall within a family of which even Italian is part, the Italo-Dalmatian group. Dialect_sentence_64

This wide category includes: Dialect_sentence_65


Modern Italian is heavily based on the Florentine dialect of Tuscan. Dialect_sentence_66

The Tuscan-based language that would eventually become modern Italian had been used in poetry and literature since at least the 12th century, and it first spread outside the Tuscan linguistic borders through the works of the so-called tre corone ("three crowns"): Dante Alighieri, Petrarch, and Giovanni Boccaccio. Dialect_sentence_67

Florentine thus gradually rose to prominence as the volgare of the literate and upper class in Italy, and it spread throughout the peninsula and Sicily as the lingua franca among the Italian educated class as well as Italian travelling merchants. Dialect_sentence_68

The economic prowess and cultural and artistic importance of Tuscany in the Late Middle Ages and the Renaissance further encouraged the diffusion of the Florentine-Tuscan Italian throughout Italy and among the educated and powerful, though local and regional languages remained the main languages of the common people. Dialect_sentence_69

Aside from the Italo-Dalmatian languages, the second most widespread family in Italy is the Gallo-Italic group, spanning throughout much of Northern Italy's languages and dialects (such as Piedmontese, Emilian-Romagnol, Ligurian, Lombard, Venetian, Sicily's and Basilicata's Gallo-Italic in southern Italy, etc.). Dialect_sentence_70

Finally, other languages from a number of different families follow the last two major groups: the Gallo-Romance languages (French, Occitan and its Vivaro-Alpine dialect, Franco-Provençal); the Rhaeto-Romance languages (Friulian and Ladin); the Ibero-Romance languages (Sardinia's Algherese); the Germanic Cimbrian, Southern Bavarian, Walser German and the Mòcheno language; the Albanian Arbëresh language; the Hellenic Griko language and Calabrian Greek; the Serbo-Croatian Slavomolisano dialect; and the various Slovene languages, including the Gail Valley dialect and Istrian dialect. Dialect_sentence_71

The language indigenous to Sardinia, while being Romance in nature, is considered to be a specific linguistic family of its own, separate from the other Neo-Latin groups; it is often subdivided into the Centro-Southern and Centro-Northern dialects. Dialect_sentence_72

Though mostly mutually unintelligible, the exact degree to which all the Italian languages are mutually unintelligible varies, often correlating with geographical distance or geographical barriers between the languages; some regional Italian languages that are closer in geographical proximity to each other or closer to each other on the dialect continuum are more or less mutually intelligible. Dialect_sentence_73

For instance, a speaker of purely Eastern Lombard, a language in Northern Italy's Lombardy region that includes the Bergamasque dialect, would have severely limited mutual intelligibility with a purely Italian speaker and would be nearly completely unintelligible to a Sicilian-speaking individual. Dialect_sentence_74

Due to Eastern Lombard's status as a Gallo-Italic language, an Eastern Lombard speaker may, in fact, have more mutual intelligibility with an Occitan, Catalan, or French speaker than with an Italian or Sicilian speaker. Dialect_sentence_75

Meanwhile, a Sicilian-speaking person would have a greater degree of mutual intelligibility with a speaker of the more closely related Neapolitan language, but far less mutual intelligibility with a person speaking Sicilian Gallo-Italic, a language that developed in isolated Lombard emigrant communities on the same island as the Sicilian language. Dialect_sentence_76

Today, the majority of Italian nationals are able to speak Italian, though many Italians still speak their regional language regularly or as their primary day-to-day language, especially at home with family or when communicating with Italians from the same town or region. Dialect_sentence_77

The Balkans Dialect_section_7

The classification of speech varieties as dialects or languages and their relationship to other varieties of speech can be controversial and the verdicts inconsistent. Dialect_sentence_78

Serbo-Croatian illustrates this point. Dialect_sentence_79

Serbo-Croatian has two major formal variants (Serbian and Croatian). Dialect_sentence_80

Both are based on the Shtokavian dialect and therefore mutually intelligible with differences found mostly in their respective local vocabularies and minor grammatical differences. Dialect_sentence_81

Certain dialects of Serbia (Torlakian) and Croatia (Kajkavian and Chakavian), however, are not mutually intelligible even though they are usually subsumed under Serbo-Croatian. Dialect_sentence_82

How these dialects should be classified in relation to Shtokavian remains a matter of dispute. Dialect_sentence_83

Macedonian, although largely mutually intelligible with Bulgarian and certain dialects of Serbo-Croatian (Torlakian), is considered by Bulgarian linguists to be a Bulgarian dialect, in contrast with the contemporary international view and the view in North Macedonia, which regards it as a language in its own right. Dialect_sentence_84

Nevertheless, before the establishment of a literary standard of Macedonian in 1944, in most sources in and out of Bulgaria before the Second World War, the southern Slavonic dialect continuum covering the area of today's North Macedonia were referred to as Bulgarian dialects (see Bulgarian language#Relationship to Macedonian). Dialect_sentence_85

Sociolinguists agree that the question whether Macedonian is a dialect of Bulgarian or a language is a political one and cannot be resolved on a purely linguistic basis, because dialect continua do not allow for either/or judgments. Dialect_sentence_86

Lebanon Dialect_section_8

See also: Lebanese Arabic Dialect_sentence_87

In Lebanon, a part of the Christian population considers "Lebanese" to be in some sense a distinct language from Arabic and not merely a dialect thereof. Dialect_sentence_88

During the civil war, Christians often used Lebanese Arabic officially, and sporadically used the Latin script to write Lebanese, thus further distinguishing it from Arabic. Dialect_sentence_89

All Lebanese laws are written in the standard literary form of Arabic, though parliamentary debate may be conducted in Lebanese Arabic. Dialect_sentence_90

North Africa Dialect_section_9

See also: Maghrebi Arabic Dialect_sentence_91

In Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco, the Darijas (spoken North African languages) are sometimes considered more different from other Arabic dialects. Dialect_sentence_92

Officially, North African countries prefer to give preference to the Literary Arabic and conduct much of their political and religious life in it (adherence to Islam), and refrain from declaring each country's specific variety to be a separate language, because Literary Arabic is the liturgical language of Islam and the language of the Islamic sacred book, the Qur'an. Dialect_sentence_93

Although, especially since the 1960s, the Darijas are occupying an increasing use and influence in the cultural life of these countries. Dialect_sentence_94

Examples of cultural elements where Darijas' use became dominant include: theatre, film, music, television, advertisement, social media, folk-tale books and companies' names. Dialect_sentence_95

Ukraine Dialect_section_10

The Modern Ukrainian language has been in common use since the late 17th century, associated with the establishment of the Cossack Hetmanate. Dialect_sentence_96

In the 19th century, the Tsarist Government of the Russian Empire claimed that Ukrainian (or Little Russian, per official name) was merely a dialect of Russian (or Polonized dialect) and not a language on its own (same concept as for Belarusian language). Dialect_sentence_97

That concepted was enrooted soon after the partitions of Poland. Dialect_sentence_98

According to these claims, the differences were few and caused by the conquest of western Ukraine by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Dialect_sentence_99

However, in reality the dialects in Ukraine were developing independently from the dialects in the modern Russia for several centuries, and as a result they differed substantially. Dialect_sentence_100

Following the Spring of Nations in Europe and efforts of the Brotherhood of Saints Cyril and Methodius, across the so called "Southwestern Krai" of Russian Empire started to spread cultural societies of Hromada and their Sunday schools. Dialect_sentence_101

Themselves "hromadas" acted in same manner as Orthodox fraternities of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth back in 15th century. Dialect_sentence_102

Around that time in Ukraine becoming popular political movements Narodnichestvo (Narodniks) and Khlopomanstvo. Dialect_sentence_103

Moldova Dialect_section_11

There have been cases of a variety of speech being deliberately reclassified to serve political purposes. Dialect_sentence_104

One example is Moldovan. Dialect_sentence_105

In 1996, the Moldovan parliament, citing fears of "Romanian expansionism", rejected a proposal from President Mircea Snegur to change the name of the language to Romanian, and in 2003 a Moldovan–Romanian dictionary was published, purporting to show that the two countries speak different languages. Dialect_sentence_106

Linguists of the Romanian Academy reacted by declaring that all the Moldovan words were also Romanian words; while in Moldova, the head of the Academy of Sciences of Moldova, Ion Bărbuţă, described the dictionary as a politically motivated "absurdity". Dialect_sentence_107

Greater China Dialect_section_12

Main article: Varieties of Chinese § Classification Dialect_sentence_108

Unlike languages that use alphabets to indicate their pronunciation, Chinese characters have developed from logograms that do not always give hints to their pronunciation. Dialect_sentence_109

Although the written characters have remained relatively consistent for the last two thousand years, the pronunciation and grammar in different regions have developed to an extent that the varieties of the spoken language are often mutually unintelligible. Dialect_sentence_110

As a series of migration to the south throughout the history, the regional languages of the south, including Gan, Xiang, Wu, Min, Yue and Hakka often show traces of Old Chinese or Middle Chinese. Dialect_sentence_111

From the Ming dynasty onward, Beijing has been the capital of China and the dialect spoken in Beijing has had the most prestige among other varieties. Dialect_sentence_112

With the founding of the Republic of China, Standard Mandarin was designated as the official language, based on the spoken language of Beijing. Dialect_sentence_113

Since then, other spoken varieties are regarded as fangyan (regional speech). Dialect_sentence_114

Cantonese is still the most commonly-used language in Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Macau and among some overseas Chinese communities, whereas Hokkien has been accepted in Taiwan as an important local language alongside Mandarin. Dialect_sentence_115

Interlingua Dialect_section_13

Main article: Interlingua Dialect_sentence_116

One language, Interlingua, was developed so that the languages of Western civilization would act as its dialects. Dialect_sentence_117

Drawing from such concepts as the international scientific vocabulary and Standard Average European, linguists developed a theory that the modern Western languages were actually dialects of a hidden or latent language. Dialect_sentence_118

Researchers at the International Auxiliary Language Association extracted words and affixes that they considered to be part of Interlingua's vocabulary. Dialect_sentence_119

In theory, speakers of the Western languages would understand written or spoken Interlingua immediately, without prior study, since their own languages were its dialects. Dialect_sentence_120

This has often turned out to be true, especially, but not solely, for speakers of the Romance languages and educated speakers of English. Dialect_sentence_121

Interlingua has also been found to assist in the learning of other languages. Dialect_sentence_122

In one study, Swedish high school students learning Interlingua were able to translate passages from Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian that students of those languages found too difficult to understand. Dialect_sentence_123

The vocabulary of Interlingua extends beyond the Western language families. Dialect_sentence_124

Selected list of articles on dialects Dialect_section_14

See also Dialect_section_15

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialect.