Re: Dialects in communication

From: donald_at_PngyfSc8OiR7zeF1ZDie3DouqofZTFQkm-mX02NA_ZW0lHEq0KYJ5ZhwIaVWYGaS-wcsq
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2009 14:27:08 GMT

In message <> "Mandacaru" writes:
>> >Sure. Broadly speaking, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, and
>> >Romanian are all dialects of Latin. Doesn't mean speaking one will
>> >let you speak all the others, but after learning one, people tend to
>> >find it easier to learn one of the others. :)
>> That's broadening dialect beyond its usual meaning. Dialect involves
>> a small proportion (10%, maybe 20%) of words which are either not
>> part of the main form of the language or rarely used by most speakers.
>> There are no significant differences in grammar or sentence structure.
>> So apart from a bit of "what does that word mean?" speakers of
>> different dialects can communicate without either learning the other
>> language.
>There seems to be a conflation of vocabulary with accent here.

Not on my part. I'm trying to get over the distinctions between accent, dialect and language.

>You can have exactly the same words spoken but overlaid with an
>accent which makes things impossible to understand.

Indeed, but that's not dialect.

>Also, I doubt anyone can understand 10% of any other dialect from
>the off without having experienced it before.

I disagree. If it's a dialect something like 80-90% of the words are the same. If it were as little as 10% it would make English a dialect of German, Latin and French.

The combination of dialect and accent may make speech sound like a completely foreign language.

>You can get completely
>lost very quickly below the level of dialect. Can you understand it
>with a bit of time and application? Sure.

>Are Spanish and Portuguese dialects of the same language? Pretty much.
>Look at them written. In fact, Portuguese and Gallego are very similar
>indeed. Can a Brazilian understand S. American Castillian? Usually. Can
>a Hispanic American understand Brazilian Portuguese? Very rarely. Go
>figure. Can a Brazilian understand Portuguese from Portugal? Rarely.

I agree there is a fuzzy boundary between language and dialect. The desciption having more to do with history and politics than any logical rule.

>With languages which have been exported from the Old World to the New
>(e.g. English), a lot of the original variation is lost due to the
>bottleneck and to mixing in the new place. It is the same as population


>As for wasn't Newcastle, it was Edinburgh. but in
>this instance, we are probably talking of different versions of Old
>English - the Scottish version was pretty much ditched.

I've never heard of an Edinburgh dialect and the accent is pretty unremarkable. There's a Scots dialect which includes significant borrowings from Scots Gallic. How much it is used in Edinburgh I'm not sure as I don't know if Gallic has ever been spoken in that part of Scotland.

>Perhaps the most illuminating thing of all is to look at this site:

It looks incomprehensible until you realise that most of the strange words are phonetic spellings of a very broad Scots accent. Then it's readable with only a small proportion of dialect words.

Donald Oddy


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