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Dialectology

Dialectology (from Greek διάλεκτος, dialektos, "talk, dialect"; and -λογία, -logia) is the scientific study of linguistic dialect, a sub-
field of sociolinguistics. It studies variations in language based primarily on geographic distribution and their associated features.
Dialectology treats such topics as divergence of two local dialects from a common ancestor and synchronic variation.

Dialectologists are ultimately concerned with grammatical, lexical and phonological features that correspond to regional areas. Thus
they usually deal not only with populations that have lived in certain areas for generations, but also with migrant groups that bring
their languages to new areas (seelanguage contact).

Commonly studied concepts in dialectology include the problem of mutual intelligibility in defining languages and dialects;
situations of diglossia, where two dialects are used for different functions; dialect continua including a number of partially mutually
intelligible dialects; andpluricentrism, where what is essentially a single genetic language exists as two or more standard varieties.

Hans Kurath and William Labov are among the most prominent researchers in this field.

Contents
History
Methods of data collection
Mutual intelligibility
Diglossia
Dialect continuum
Pluricentrism
The abstand and ausbau languages framework
See also
References
Further reading

History
In London, there were comments on the different dialects recorded in 12th century sources, and a large number of dialect glossaries
(focussing on vocabulary) were published in the 19th century.[1] Philologists would also study dialects, as they preserved earlier
forms of words.[1]

The first comparative dialect study in Germany was The Dialects of Bavaria by Johann Andreas Schmeller, which included a
linguistic atlas.[2] In 1876, Georg Wenker sent postal questionnaires out over Northern Germany. These postal questionnaires
contained a list of sentences written in Standard German. These sentences were then transcribed into the local dialect, reflecting
dialectal differences. Many studies proceeded from this, and over the next century dialect studies were carried out all over the world.
Joseph Wright produced the six-volumeEnglish Dialect Dictionaryin 1905.

Traditional studies in Dialectology were generally aimed at producing dialect maps, whereby imaginary lines were drawn over a map
to indicate different dialect areas. The move away from traditional methods of language study however caused linguists to become
more concerned with social factors. Dialectologists therefore began to study social, as well as regional variation. The Linguistic Atlas
of the United States (1930s) was amongst the first dialect studies to take social factors into account.
In the 1950s, the University of Leeds undertook the Survey of English Dialects, which focused mostly on rural speech inEngland and
the eastern areas of Wales.

This shift in interest consequently saw the birth of Sociolinguistics, which is a mixture of dialectology and social sciences. However,
Graham Shorrocks has argued that there was always a sociological element to dialectology, and that many of the conclusions of
sociolinguists (e.g. the relationships with gender ditional dialectologists.[3]
, class and age) can be found in earlier work by tra

Methods of data collection


Dialect researchers typically use predominantly interview questionnaires to gather data on the dialect they are researching. These are
not to be confused with what is called written questionnaires, which have had some applications in dialectology as well and which,
.[4] There are two main types of questionnaires; direct and indirect.
recently, have had a comeback in linguistics more generally

Researchers using for their face-to-face interviews the direct method will present the subject with a set of questions that demand a
specific answer and are designed to gather either lexical or phonological information. For example, the linguist may ask the subject
the name for various items, or ask him or her to repeat certain words.

Indirect questionnaires are typically more open-ended and take longer to complete than direct questionnaires. A researcher using this
method will sit down with a subject and begin a conversation on a specific topic. For example, he may question the subject about
farm work, food and cooking, or some other subject, and gather lexical and phonological information from the information provided
by the subject. The researcher may also begin a sentence, but allow the subject to finish it for him, or ask a question that does not
[5]
demand a specific answer, such as “What are the most common plants and trees around here?”

Mutual intelligibility
Some have attempted to distinguish dialects from languages by saying that dialects of the same language are understandable to each
other. The untenable nature of blunt application of this criterion is demonstrated by the case of Italian and Spanish cited below. While
native speakers of the two may enjoy mutual understanding ranging from limited to considerable depending on the topic of
discussion and speakers' experience with linguistic variety, few people would want to classify Italian and Spanish as dialects of the
same language in any sense other than historical. Spanish and Italian are similar and to varying extents mutually comprehensible, but
phonology, syntax, morphology, and lexicon are sufficiently distinct that the two cannot be considered dialects of the same language
(but of the common ancestorLatin).

Diglossia
Another problem occurs in the case of diglossia, used to describe a situation in which, in a given society, there are two closely related
languages, one of high prestige, which is generally used by the government and in formal texts, and one of low prestige, which is
usually the spoken vernacular tongue. An example of this is Sanskrit, which was considered the proper way to speak in northern
India, but only accessible by the upper class, andPrakrit which was the common (and informal orvernacular) speech at the time.[6]

Varying degrees of diglossia are still common in many societies around the world.

Dialect continuum
A dialect continuum is a network of dialects in which geographically adjacent dialects are mutually comprehensible, but with
comprehensibility steadily decreasing as distance between the dialects increases. An example is the Dutch-German dialect
continuum, a vast network of dialects with two recognized literary standards. Although mutual intelligibility between standard Dutch
and standard German is very limited, a chain of dialects connects them. Due to several centuries of influence by standard languages
(especially in Northern Germany, where even today the original dialects struggle to survive) there are now many breaks in
intelligibility between geographically adjacent dialects along the continuum, but in the past these breaks were virtually nonexistent.
The Romance languages—Galician/Portuguese, Spanish,
Sicilian, Catalan, Occitan/Provençal, French, Sardinian,
Romanian, Romansh, Friulan, other Italian, French, and Ibero-
Romance dialects, and others—form another well-known
continuum, with varying degrees of mutual intelligibility
.

In both areas—the Germanic linguistic continuum, the


Romance linguistic continuum—the relational notion of the
term dialect is often vastly misunderstood, and today gives rise
to considerable difficulties in implementation of European
Union directives regarding support of minority languages.
Perhaps this is no more evident than in Italy, where still today
some of the population use their local language (dialetto
'dialect') as the primary means of communication at home and,
to varying lesser extent, the workplace. Difficulties arise due to
terminological confusion. The languages conventionally
referred to as Italian dialects are Romance sister languages of
Italian, not variants of Italian, which are commonly and Major dialect continua in Europe in the mid-20th
properly called italiano regionale ('regional Italian'). The label century[7]
Italian dialect as conventionally used is more geopolitical in
aptness of meaning rather than linguistic: Bolognese and
Neapolitan, for example, are termed Italian dialects, yet resemble each other less than do Italian and Spanish. Misunderstandings
ensue if "Italian dialect" is taken to mean 'dialect of Italian' rather than 'minority language spoken on Italian soil', i.e. part of the
network of the Romance linguistic continuum. The indigenous Romance language of Venice, for example, is cognate with Italian, but
quite distinct from the national language in phonology, morphology, syntax, and lexicon, and in no way a derivative or a variety of
the national language. Venetian can be said to be an Italian dialect both geographically and typologically, but it is not a dialect of
Italian.

Pluricentrism
A pluricentric language is a single genetic language that has two or more standard forms. An example is Hindustani, which
encompasses two standard varieties, Urdu and Hindi. Another example is Norwegian, with Bokmål having developed closely with
Danish and Swedish, andNynorsk as a partly reconstructed language based on old dialects. Both are recognized as official languages
in Norway.[8]

In a sense, the set of dialects can be understood as being part of a single diasystem, an abstraction that each dialect is part of. In
generative phonology, the differences can be acquired through rules. An example can be taken with Occitan (a cover term for a set of
related varieties of Southern France) where 'cavaL' (from late Latin caballus, horse) is the diasystemic form for the following
realizations

Languedocien dialect:caval [kaβal] (L > [l], sometimes velar, used concurrently with French borrowed forms chival or
chivau);
Limousine dialect: chavau [tʃavau] (ca > cha and -L > -u);
Provençal dialect: cavau [kavau] (-L > -u, used concurrently with French borrowed formschival or chivau);
Gascon dialect: cavath [kawat] (final -L > [t], sometimes palatalized, and used concurrently with French borrowed
forms chibau)
Auvergnat and Vivaro-alpine dialects: chaval [tʃaval] (same treatment of ca cluster as in Limousine dialect)
This conceptual approach may be used in practical situations. For instance when such a diasystem is identified, it can be used
construct a diaphonemic orthography that emphasizes the commonalities between the varieties. Such a goal may or may not fit with
sociopolitical preferences.
The abstand and ausbau languages framework
One analytical paradigm developed by linguists is known as the abstand and ausbau languages framework. It has proved popular
among linguists in Continental Europe, but is not so well known in English-speaking countries, especially among people who are not
trained linguists. Although only one of many possible paradigms, it has the advantage of being constructed by trained linguists for the
particular purpose of analyzing and categorizing varieties of speech, and has the additional merit of replacing such loaded words as
"language" and "dialect" with the German terms of ausbau language and abstand language, words that are not (yet) loaded with
political, cultural, or emotional connotations.

See also
Abstandsprache
Language geography
Dialectometry
Language survey

References
1. Petyt (1980), p.37
2. Petyt, p.38
3. Shorrocks, Graham (1998).A Grammar of the Dialect of the Bolton Area. Pt. 1: Introduction; phonology
. Bamberger
Beiträge zur englischen Sprachwissenschaft; Bd. 41. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. pp. 41–46.ISBN 3-631-33066-
9.
4. Dollinger, Stefan. 2015. The Written Questionnaire in Social Dialectology
. Amsterdam: Benjamins, chapter 1.
5. Chambers, J.K., and Trudgill, Peter. 1998. Dialectology. 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.
6. Ferguson, Charles A. (1959-01-01)."Diglossia" (https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00437956.1959.11659702)
. WORD. 15
(2): 325–340. doi:10.1080/00437956.1959.11659702(https://doi.org/10.1080%2F00437956.1959.11659702) .
ISSN 0043-7956 (https://www.worldcat.org/issn/0043-7956).
7. Chambers, J.K.; Trudgill, Peter (1998). Dialectology (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 6.ISBN 978-0-521-
59646-6.
8. Pluricentric languages : differing norms in different nations(https://www.worldcat.org/oclc/858282330). Clyne,
Michael G., 1939-2010. Berlin.ISBN 3110128551. OCLC 858282330 (https://www.worldcat.org/oclc/858282330).

Further reading
Petyt, K. M. (1980). The Study of Dialect: An Introduction to Dialectology
. The language library. London: A. Deutsch.
Stankiewicz, Edward (1957), "On discreteness and continuity in structural dialectology", Word, 13 (1): 44–59
Thomas, Alan R. (1967),"Generative phonology in dialectology", Transactions of the Philological Society, 66 (1):
179–203, doi:10.1111/j.1467-968X.1967.tb00343.x
Troike, Rudolph (1970), James, E., ed.,Receptive competence, productive competence, and performance. ,
Georgetown University Monograph Series on Languages and Linguistics, 22, pp. 63–74
Weinreich, Uriel (1954). "Is a structural dialectology possible?"(PDF). Word. 10: 388–400. Archived fromthe original
(PDF) on 2016-03-04.
Dollinger, Stefan (2015). The Written Questionnaire in Social Dialectology: History, Theory, Practice. IMPACT:
Studies in Language and Society, 40. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins Pub. Co.

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