Have you ever discuss dialect vs language in a forum? Is dialect a part of language? How do you define dialect and language? Are they different? Stop questioning as we are going to share you all about dialect and language. This time, we focus on learning what dialect is and what language is. Later, we will find the differences between these two terms.

To provide you with the deeper understanding, here we come with the complete review about dialect and language. Read on the review section below and get the points.

Definition of Dialect and Language

It is crucial to check out the definition of both dialect and language before we go to the further discussion. Based on the standardized definition by Wikipedia, dialect is used in two different ways referring to two different types of linguistic phenomena. Dialect refers to a variety of language that is defined as a characteristic of a specific group of the language speakers. According to the linguists, dialect is the spoken vernacular codes without a standardized written system. Dialect is also a variety of the same language which is developing from times to times.

Other language experts define dialect as a different varieties of the same language coming along with its own characteristics that have evolved over time in a geographical areas. For instance, French, Italian and Spanish has Latin dialects. Over the centuries, the have evolved into their own language and spawned their own dialects. Later, some of these dialects becomes the language.

On the other hand, language is defined as the standardized code used both in spoken and written form. Language has more prestige than the dialect due to the reason that a language has a title, a nation and a canon of literature. This gives am elite status to the language.

In short, both dialects and language are codes. Code is a linguistic system that is used for communication. The main difference between dialect and language lay on the standardization. Language is a standardized code while dialect is not. Language is formally written and spoken while dialect is only spoken.

However, dialects can be promoted to the elite status for particular political purposes, leading them to become a national language. This is how to you are directed to understand dialect vs language.

Language vs Dalect

Now that you have already a clear picture about language and dialect on your mind, let’s talk more about language vs dialect. The use of language and dialect typically deal with the business purposes. Simply, do you use a language for communication instead of dialect? Dialect is a part of language that typically spoken within the language. Language is used more in a formal conversation while dialect is used more in casual conversation.

Let’s talk about Spanish and Portuguese. Are they separate languages? Those who are living in Spain speak and write Spanish. And those who are living in Portugal must speak and write Portuguese. This is the fact in a real world. However, in essence, both Spanish and Portuguese are the Romance languages.

Cultural Considerations

Language is a part of culture. That’s why we should come to the cultural consideration when we talk about a language. There are some cultural implication when we consider discussing dialect vs language. Speakers of the same language may not have a cultural connection. For example, English speakers growing up in South Africa is not culturally connected to English speakers growing up in the U.S. they also have lack of cultural affinity when they come as a modern-day citizen.

In other word, though some people speaks the same language, it doesn’t mean that they shared cultural experiences. In short, cultural consideration doesn’t help much in differentiate dialect from language.

Mutual Intelligibility

When it comes to differentiate dialect from language, it would be better to refer to mutual intelligibility. Mutual intelligibility can be defined as a language variation spoken all over the world along with the dialects from the country where a speaker say. An English speaker living in South Africa may say “howdy”, an Australian may say “g’day” while a Brit may say “hello”. These three different statements has the same purpose that is to greet someone. Now a big question is; how will we classify them? Dialects or languages?

Other example is the Chinese language. Both Mandarin and Cantonese are the Chinese languages. They don’t have a kind of mutual intelligibility. Though both Mandarin and Cantonese use the same writing system, however, the Mandarin speakers cannot understand Cantonese speaker while you will find an English speaker can understand well someone speaking in Portuguese. This show that Mandarin is not mutually intelligible with Cantonese though they are Chinese language. On the other side, English is mutually intelligible with Portuguese though they don’t have the same language.

Standardized Language 

To understand more the case of dialect vs language, we should also know the standardized language. Many countries in the world choose some particular dialects to base their standardized language. This means that dialects cab be the base to form a standardized language. For example, Vietnam uses Hanoian dialect in as the language used in education. England used the standardized language of English which is spoken in South East. Meanwhile, Russian (the standardized language used in Russia) is based on dialects spoken in Moscow. And so on.

In fact, dialects are used to base and form the standardized language in a country. However. Dialect is still considered less valid than any other dialect used in the same language. This way, each dialect has developed distinctively which may be different one to another. There is a dialect that can form a standardized language and there is a dialect that cannot go for standardized language.

Final Words

It may be too complicated to know all about dialect vs language. Nevertheless, we have reviewed the differences between dialect and language, right? So it’s clear that dialect is a part of language. Dialects are used within the language and they can be the base to form a standardized language.


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