There are all sorts of identity and self-esteem issues here that are worth investigating. The "standard" is a human choice that could have been otherwise (like driving on the right or left). It is not in any intrinsic way better or worse than other dialects. Nor are the historic regional dialects corrupt variants. Indeed, in many cases they preserve far older lexis, meanings or grammar than the so-called standard. Back to top Historical and contemporary changes In studying dialect forms, as they exist now, you should be aware of the history behind them. Regional varieties of English have historical causes that may go as far back as the Old English period. They may embody or reflect much of the history of the places where they are used.
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(This does not mean that a dialect emerged from people who took standard English and then changed it; it is more likely that the standard variety and the dialect variety developed from some common and some locally distinctive influences over time, or that the dialect. In the case of plan spoken English, we have good evidence that such prejudice exists - so there is an exaggerated danger that, in referring to a standard, we will strengthen what is already a tyranny. It may help to note that Standard English, too, is a dialect - albeit one that is no longer found in any one region of Britain. Barrie rhodes notes: This is what has been termed ".the tyrrany of the standard" which gives the impression that there is something called "English" and all other varieties are, somehow, degraded, deficient, "incorrect" forms of this. The idea of convergence towards this standard for me, reinforces the impression that there is some set-in-stone ideal towards which people should strive. Some observers would claim that this is what made people uncomfortable and ashamed of their native speech e notion is very strong and well established that there is something called "English".And everything else is a deviation from this, arrived at through ignorance of the "proper". When I give talks to various groups, i find the biggest challenge is to get people to accept that there are many Englishes, all with an equal and valid claim to be "proper" within their own contexts. Only historical and geographical accidents brought prestige to what today we call the standard. But students could usefully ask (within a sociolinguistic paradigm) why people still choose to use non-standard speech when ".they should know better". Heard on the radio, understood and wrote Standard English (very well) - but she never spoke. Had she done so, she would have soon found herself socially distanced from the close "West Riding" speaking community she lived.
(Barrie rhodes notes that in Yorkshire, generally, we use want as the auxiliary in such constructions, where want and the need are more or less interchangeable in other regions.) Back to top The social functions of dialects Are there language interactions where dialect forms work differently. In the past some speakers might have known only to use a dialect, but today many are aware of both dialect and Standard equivalents - so may use one or the other more or less in different social contexts. This may for purposes of greater or less formality or intimacy; and it may be conscious or involuntary (as when a speaker assimilates his or her style to that of another). It is worth considering how far dialect is determined by geography and historical accident, and how far it may be related to sociolinguistics. (For example, it may be that geography and historical isolation explains the origin of a dialect, but that social attitudes explain its survival.) The primary social function of any dialect (or of all language) is communication, but there are also claims to status and identity. However, the emergence of a prestige variety of Standard English is largely a series of accidents. Had Alfred (king of the west Saxons) not defeated the viking Guthrum at the battle of Edington, then York might have been established as the capital of England, and the Standard English of today might have been an Anglo-norse variety. Of course, that did not happen. Back to top dialects and Standard English Without the notion of Standard English, we may find it hard to identify anything as a dialect at all - since the distinctiveness of a dialect consists in those things that are different from the Standard.
(For example, happen it may rain tomorrow.) There is no initial /h/ sound, so in dialect the written form may be given as appen. The common written representation 'appen implies mistakenly that the speaker has dropped a sound that was never there in the first place. While in Standard English indicates simultaneous time. But in East and West Yorkshire dialect it has the sense expressed by until in Standard English. Speaking on bbc radio 4's Home Truths (Saturday 24th January 2004) the wife of a member of the Spurn lifeboat crew said of her husband and his colleagues: plan A lot of men go out in the morning. They don't get back while seven o'clock at night. back to top Grammar Distinctive grammar in dialects may be harder to detect or explain than distinctive lexis. One example is the way that dialect speakers on Tyneside use modal verbs. Another would be the use of past participle in Scots after wants or needs.
And third, we can forget that everyone lives in a region, that may have its own distinctive dialect forms - to a linguist, Staffordshire or Hertfordshire or Westmorland are no less worthy of study than London, liverpool or Newcastle. Back to top If you are a teacher or a student, then you can find resources for studying dialect very easily. There are very extensive materials that you can find on the world Wide web, for dialects that are not local to you. But you can find much more by staying at home - by reading, or listening to, the language of the people who live and work there, perhaps older people or those in historic and traditional occupations. (Or those who have time to talk about occupations that are no longer practised.) you can very easily gather, share and publish data, using digital recording devices (such as mp3 players/voice recorders) or computers with multimedia functions, and suitable recording software such as Audacity (which. Back to top Lexis The lexis of dialects is perhaps their most conspicuous feature for listeners and readers. (If we see unfamiliar grammatical forms, we may be able to infer meaning readily; but if we see a novel lexeme we can at best guess its meaning from the context.) This will include both forms that are peculiar to the dialect and forms that. So beer-off for an off-licence is a distinctive form (found in East Yorkshire while happen is a verb in Standard English, but in some yorkshire dialects is used as an adverb, in the sense of maybe or perhaps, corresponding to Shakespeare's haply.
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Welsh is not a germanic language, and is not the language most widely spoken in the whole of Wales (English is). But it is now established as one of two official languages in Wales. Official publications use both Welsh and English (Welsh appears first while there are requirements for broadcasters to produce programming in Welsh. Perhaps the growing activity of government in Edinburgh will lead to the emergence of Scots as a separate language (in an official sense). But this has not happened yet.
Back to top dialect is all around you of course, if we accept that all vernacular language varieties are in some sense dialects, then this is a truism or statement of the obvious. But it may help us stop thinking that dialect is something that other people do in big cities or remote dales, and that we are not dialect users, too. Some supposed dialects - especially urban ones - have attracted the attention of broadcasters or writers, resume in ways that have made them familiar to a wider public. That is we can put a name to their speakers, cockneys and Scousers and geordies. The effect of this can be unhelpful. First, we do not really know about the authentic language of people in London and liverpool or on Tyneside - so much as a simplified or popular representation, based on tv drama. Second, rural varieties of English seem not to receive as much notice.
(These might include, say, the Scots use of past participle after needs or wants, where se has present participle: Scots has this wants done where se has this wants doing). But if Scots is the form of English widely spoken in Scotland is it then, perhaps, a language in its own right? So when does a dialect become a language? When a shepherd in Yorkshire's north-western Dales says, If tha seeas a yow rigwelted, tha mun upskittle it, is he speaking in a dialect or a separate (Anglo-norse?) language? Back to top, politics and language variety, deciding when a variety of a language may be considered a language in its own right is sometimes a matter of linguistic fact, but may also reflect political wishes. Welsh is clearly a distinct language (it is not intelligible, to speakers of any other language).
In the same way icelandic is not intelligible to speakers of related North Germanic languages, such as Swedish. Scots also does not have a standard system of spelling - there is no official body to endorse this. (Neither does English, of course). And until recently, it did not have its own national assembly, while official publications for Scotland came from the Scottish Office, a branch of Whitehall government. Back to top Norwegian (which perhaps has fewer speakers than Scots - some 5 million worldwide) is the official language of Norway (it has two varieties, bokmål and Nynorsk). The norwegian state, like france, determines acceptable forms through a learned body, the Språkråd. Scots today is arguably in the same position as Norwegian in 1814, when the country gained semi-independence, and its own parliament. But Swedish, danish and Norwegian (both varieties) are mutually intelligible. The differences among them are perhaps no more profound than those between Standard English and Scots (of any Scottish region).
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We have to offer accept that the term "dialect" is nothing more than a convenient label, a shared shorthand for a very complex concept. Back to top, size. Does a region or other social organization need to be of a given size in order to have a dialect - and if so, what is this? People from the south of England may speak of Yorkshire dialect (as Frances Hodgson-Burnett does. The secret Garden ). And there is a yorkshire dialect Society. But we might qualify this description by saying that really yorkshire has a number of more local dialects, perhaps in one of the historic Ridings or centred around one of the big cities. Scots is a regional variety of English, spoken throughout Scotland, alongside Standard English. Some speakers may freely mix elements of Standard English (SE) and Scots, for example features of grammar that the speaker does not know are from one or the other.
Moreover there house is a prescriptive tradition in education and broadcasting that has formalised the status and prestige of both written and spoken standard English. Barrie rhodes, of the yorkshire dialect Spciety, states this more bluntly: Increasingly, we have come to criticise the whole concept of dialect (and associated adjectives such as traditional and regional we now subscribe more to the notion of idiolect in recognition of the fact that. For instance, one of my friends in Norway uses the musical hall northern expression ee, by gum! And so, increasingly, does her daughter. My friend says she picked up this expression from one of her mother's in-laws in Lancashire. Now, given that this expression is habitually used by two people in Lillestrom, does it now make it part of that locality's dialect? This sort of example makes a nonsense of trying to draw boundaries (and, even worse, draw isoglosses) around "dialect regions".
impossibility. That is, any dialect is a generalization from the individual language use of a wider population. It comes from observation and perhaps some objective study. But we will not, if we stand outside. Mary-le-bow church in London, hear everyone around us speaking a uniform variety of English that matches a description of Cockney. We will, however, if we speak to a hundred people who have lived there for more than ten years, observe some common features of lexis, grammar and phonology that we would not find commonly used if we repeated the observation in Aberdeen, hull or Plymouth. There is a more fundamental objection to the conventional description of dialect - and this is that all language is dialect, including Standard English. This was originally a regional dialect, but has become a prestige variety, favoured by the courts, government, the civil service, the officer class of the armed services and the elite universities.
It may be useful to begin by deciding what a dialect. Dialect describes a language variety where a user's regional or social background appears in his or her use of vocabulary and grammar. This description is a very open one, and there is continuing debate about its application to particular varieties. Before considering these, it may help to explain the related feature of accent. (Some linguists include accent, along with lexis writing and grammar, as a feature of dialect.). Accent denotes the features of pronunciation (the speech sounds) that show regional or social identity (and arguably that of an individual, since one could have a personal and idiosyncratic accent). Back to top, problems with this description, size.
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Introduction, this guide is written for students who are following gce advanced level (as and A2) syllabuses in English Language. This resource may also be of general interest to language students on university degree courses, trainee teachers and anyone with a general interest in language science. Please look at the and contents page for a full list of specific guides on this site. Back to top, the Assessment and qualifications Alliance (AQA) has made this a subject for examination within a general area of study described as Language and Social Contexts. The aqa outlines the requirements for students taking this module in this way: In preparing this topic area candidates should study: the variety of regional forms in terms of accent, lexis and grammar; the social functions that dialects perform; the relationship between dialects and Standard. In particular, they should examine social factors affecting variations within dialects; representations in writing. This guide will reflect the categories that the aqa examiners identify, but will look at English dialects more widely than appears in their description. Back to top, what is dialect?