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Difference Between Dialect and Language

Dialect vs Language

If one would ask you what your language is, would you say it is English? How about that same person asking you what your dialect is? Many people are puzzled if there should be a distinction between the two.

Foremost, linguists define the term “dialect” as a diversity of a language that is being used by a certain group of people in a particular geographical location. So how does it differ from a language? Well, language is said to be the more generally accepted tongue of a country. This means that the dialect is just the homely version of the language.

Language is the sum of the parts (individual dialects). For example, the English language is the total sum of a collection of sublanguages such as Australian English, Cockney, and Yorkshire English. This is also one of the reasons why language is basically more prestigious as opposed to a dialect. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, dialects were even regarded as deviations from the standard (the language).

Although there’s no definite agreement yet among researchers, it is actually safe to say that the term “dialect” is a more local form of the bigger language. Being described as local, dialects share the same characteristics of grammar (not necessarily pronunciation and vocabulary) with its nearby linguistic spaces. In addition, many also argue that their difference is more of a political, historical, and sociological sense rather than of linguistics. The difference is rather subjective than objective. The two cannot be distinguished by virtue of the structural differences like how you compare the English language from the Chinese language.

Language is politically determined. This means that a powerful group of people like an army or the government can dictate which of the many dialects will be chosen as the official language of a state. This has been done in many historical accounts worldwide.

Moreover, the dialect and language of a certain location must be related in a way that they are mutually intelligible. And so you can say that the people who reside at that place speak the same kind of language or dialect bearing the same characteristics as their inherent language. If ever these individuals will not be able to understand one another, then they must be conversing using dissimilar languages. However, this is still not a hard and fast rule as in the case of the Norwegian and Swedish denominations that speak different kinds of languages yet find their languages are near mutually intelligible.


1.A language is bigger than a dialect.
2.Language is more prestigious than a dialect.
3.Language is politically and historically determined.
4.Language is the so-called standard while a dialect is more of the “homely” or local version.

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  1. a language has its own script while a dialect does not have a script of its own

  2. Dialect is only use and common for the local country, for example, in the Philippines their have more different dialect. And the language is use over the country or international such as English, Spanish, Chinese and more!

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