Dialects. International Differences in Dialect

Dialects are mutually intelligible variations of the same language. Most of the major world languages are spoken in several different dialects.

Many languages include distinct dialects spoken in different countries. Spanish speakers in Spain, Mexico, and Argentina speak different dialects. Residents of Quebec speak a dialect different from those of France. English is the dominant language of many countries throughout the world. It includes distinct dialects spoken in the British Isles, the United States, Canada. Australia. South Africa, and other English-speaking countries. Natives of each of these countries are readily identified by their speech patterns.

Dialects differ on the basis of word usage and meaning, spelling, and pronunciation. The British call gasoline "petrol," an apartment a "flat." and a diaper a "nappy." Color, honor, and many other words ending in the letters or in the United States are spelled with our in Britain.

Differences between British English and American English began to appear prior to the American Revolution. Isolated from the mother country by three thousand miles of ocean, American English began to diverge from British English. Once the United States had achieved political independence, differences between American and British English were reinforced by a conscious effort by leaders of the newly independent United States to establish a distinctive cultural identity.

In the early nineteenth century, Noah Webster prepared the first dictionary of American English. In doing so, he advocated several changes in spelling principles. Not only was the letter u dropped in words such as color and labor, but the letters r and e were transposed in words such as center and theater. These and many other distinctions were embraced by many prominent American political leaders eager to reinforce the cultural distinctiveness of Americans in the United States. At that time, some politicians—especially those intent on securing votes from anti-British Irish immigrant communities—supported legislation making "American" the official language of their states or communities.

Dialects within a Single Country. Distinctive dialects are not only characteristic of different countries speaking the same language but of differences evident within individual countries. MostAmericans can readily recognize differences in dialectwithin the United States. Accents from the Deep South,New York City, and New England can be easily discerned. An even more varied and distinctive pattern ofdialects is found in the British Isles. The English easilyrecognize the "scouse" dialect of Liverpool, the"geordie" accent of northeastern England, and manyother regional speech patterns within that country.

In Europe, the dialect originally dominant in a country's economic and political core region has tended to evolve into the standard national speech of the country. Standard Castilian Spanish originated around Madrid. The merger of the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon in the fifteenth century resulted in their dominance over all of Spain. This ensured that the Castilian dialect would evolve into official Spanish. Today, speakers of other Spanish dialects have expressed bitter resentment of the dominance of Castilian. Residents of northeastern Spain, who speak the Catalan dialect, have pressed for increased local autonomy and more language rights.

A similar situation prevails in France. During medieval times, two major dialects were spoken in France. The meaning of the word for "yes" differed between them. In northern France, the word for "yes" was oil, the ancestor of today's oui. In the southern part of the country, the word for "yes" was oc. Hence, the dialect of northern France was known as "langue d'oil," while that of southern France was "langue d'oc." Because the Paris region in the north of France evolved into the core of the modern French state, langue d'oil became the standard French language of today. The southern dialect is still spoken, however, and southwestern France today is still known as Languedoc.

 






Date added: 2023-03-03; views: 177;


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