Welcome to City-Data.com Forum!
U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > World Forums > World
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 09-01-2012, 06:09 PM
 
Location: The heart of Cascadia
1,327 posts, read 3,183,405 times
Reputation: 848

Advertisements

How far apart do two tongues have to be in order to be separate languages?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 09-02-2012, 10:10 AM
 
Location: The Netherlands
282 posts, read 963,101 times
Reputation: 433
There is no rule. There are foreign languages that are so close to my native language that they are even more understandable than some dialects of my native language, so I wouldn't be looking for any logic in that. In my opinion it's all just based on historical/cultural reasons.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 09-02-2012, 10:56 AM
 
Location: North West Northern Ireland.
20,633 posts, read 23,899,073 times
Reputation: 3107
A language is something that a person speaks. A dialect is the way they speak it.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 09-02-2012, 01:30 PM
 
Location: Østenfor sol og vestenfor måne
17,916 posts, read 24,385,785 times
Reputation: 39038
The (somewhat cheeky) answer is that a language is a dialect with an army and a navy.

For example, look at the Scandinavian languages, Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish. Some say that if they were under the banner of a single country, those languages would become dialects. In fact, those languages are rife with dialects themselves and as one approaches the borders between the countries, one finds similar dialects on both sides of the border with the great distinction being the influence of the written language instituted by the distant capital.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 09-02-2012, 05:47 PM
 
Location: Perth, Western Australia
3,187 posts, read 4,593,083 times
Reputation: 2394
There is no clear-cut definition between a dialect and a language.

I also think it's often more a case of cultural/national identity more than anything else. For example the Moldovan and Romanian languages are almost exactly the same, whilst the Chinese 'dialects' can be as different as English is to Italian. A monolingual speaker of Cantonese would not understand someone speaking the prestige dialect of Mandarin.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 09-02-2012, 05:49 PM
 
1,446 posts, read 4,600,518 times
Reputation: 991
If they are mutually intelligible, meaning you can understand at least most of what is said by each other, then you are dealing with two dialects. If you can not understand much of what is said by each other, you are dealing with two separate languages. Now, where exactly is this boundaries between "most" and "much" being mutually intelligible? There is no clear boundary. I guess factors such as history, ethnicity, identity are at play in determining the difference between dialects and separate languages. Hence, the exact divide should be approached at an individual basis (most of what I said is a big generalization).
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 09-02-2012, 06:51 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,544 posts, read 56,107,174 times
Reputation: 11862
Quote:
Originally Posted by lentzr View Post
If they are mutually intelligible, meaning you can understand at least most of what is said by each other, then you are dealing with two dialects. If you can not understand much of what is said by each other, you are dealing with two separate languages. Now, where exactly is this boundaries between "most" and "much" being mutually intelligible? There is no clear boundary. I guess factors such as history, ethnicity, identity are at play in determining the difference between dialects and separate languages. Hence, the exact divide should be approached at an individual basis (most of what I said is a big generalization).
I bet most Americans would not understand 10% of traditional Yorkshire dialect, which is considered a dialect not a language. I would see it's a 'true dialect' - some people confuse accents without dialects, although 'American English' is dialectical in the sense it has a few of it's own words, idioms, expressions but I as an Australian would mostly hear how different words are spoken.

I think like a lot of human classifications it's as much a POLITICAL thing. It's politics that decides Danish and Norwegian are different. It's politics that decides that Cantonese is a 'dialect' not a separate language.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 09-02-2012, 07:56 PM
 
1,446 posts, read 4,600,518 times
Reputation: 991
Quote:
I think like a lot of human classifications it's as much a POLITICAL thing. It's politics that decides Danish and Norwegian are different. It's politics that decides that Cantonese is a 'dialect' not a separate language.
Yes, politics definitely play a big part in language classification. I already stated how history, ethnicity, identity are big factors in determining whether two forms of speech are different dialects or languages. I should have added "politics" to that list. Anyway, these classifications that we use for languages and dialects are often based on generations, it is not a precise science like mathematics is.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 09-02-2012, 10:04 PM
 
73,076 posts, read 62,706,187 times
Reputation: 21950
Quote:
Originally Posted by owenc View Post
A language is something that a person speaks. A dialect is the way they speak it.
That is very true. I have a good example of this, myself, and then other people around me.

I happen to live in the Southeast USA, around the Atlanta area. However, my father is from Wisconsin. I don't speak the local dialect of English. I speak Midwestern English, which means I call a carbonated soft drink "pop". Alot of people where I live use Southern English, and most people use the word "coke" to describe such a drink. Sometimes I will throw in words like lavatory and CV, a product of watching quite a bit of BBC and Pilot TV. We all speak English, so we could technically understand one another. However, our dialects are different. With the dialect being different, the accent will be different too.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 09-03-2012, 03:39 AM
 
Location: Paris, France
326 posts, read 1,041,878 times
Reputation: 551
No accepted definition, even linguists argue about whether a variety of language is an accent or a dialect, or a separate language or a dialect.

In the British context, it usually means a variety of the English language which differs from the standard not only by pronunciation but also by grammar, vocabulary, syntax and idiom – and should not be confused between the term "accent", which just means speaking a relatively standard version of British English but with a distinctive pronunciation of words (particularly the vowel sounds). Many places in Britain – particularly in the north and Scotland – have both a local dialect as well as a distinctive accent when speaking standard English and the two are often confused. Dialects – when spoken quickly between native speakers – can often be unintelligible to people who only know the standard or another dialect. For example, in Newcastle:

Newcastle Dialect (Geordie): Ah'm gannin hyem
Newcastle Accent: Aa'm going ho(r)m
Standard English: I'm going home

In some places – such as north east Scotland or parts of Northern Ireland – the local dialect is so divergent from the standard that most linguists consider it a separate language (Scots, Doric, Ulster Scots..) – despite it barely ever being written down and even its own speakers often just considering it a corrupted version of English.

In the US context I think the term is confused with "strong accent" or "slang" a lot more. To quote the linguist Simeon Potter (via Bill Bryson, I admit): "It would be no great exaggeration to say that greater differences in pronunciation are discernible in the north of England between Trent and Tweed than in the whole of North America." While I understand there are true dialects in the US in some places (like the Outer Banks of the Carolinas, or remote parts of Appalachia), often I hear the term used when in fact "accent" would be more appropriate, eg when used to describe Boston or Texan speech. Although I may be wrong, I've not heard many examples of US speech varieties that were genuinely unintelligible – even if the accent is often distinctive – and had vastly different grammar and pronunciation from standard American English.

In other contexts, such as in Italy, China or the Arabic-speaking world, a "dialect" actually usually means a local language – totally and utterly unintelligible from the standard – which is nevertheless held in low prestige and considered inappropriate for high status functions. In Italy, for example, "Venetian" is a variety that evolved from Latin independently from Italian, and is really very different. However, for socio-economic and political reasons, most Venetians use standard Italian in formal settings and in writing – whereas Venetian is restricted to informal, oral interactions with friends and family – and is referred to as a "dialetto". So it is important to remember, it is a dialect of Italy, but NOT a dialect of Italian. This is also very much the case with all the different Arabic languages (Egyptian "dialect", Moroccan "dialect" etc). In China, it is even more extreme – the "dialects" are as divergent as English is from Dutch or German. It is just that the written language – based on characters rather than an alphabet – is uniform throughout.

In other places the reverse is true: separate "languages" are in fact linguistically two dialects of one language, but nevertheless for political reasons both are imbued with the status of language. This is true of the Serbian and Croatian "languages", which in reality are about as different as standard US and UK English. Another example are the Romanian and Moldovan "languages" – which is essentially the same variety but called a different name in each state.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > World Forums > World
Similar Threads

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2024, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Contact Us - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 - Top