The Difference between Language and Dialect

3926 Words Oct 18th, 2012 16 Pages
Language and Dialect

学生 : 学院 : 高级翻译学院 年级 : 2007级 研究方向 : 商务翻译研究 课程名称 : 语言学理论 任课老师 :莫爱屏教授

论文提交日期 : 2008/01/08

Abstract: This paper aims to probe into the study of language and dialect in the field of sociolinguistics. Part 1 is a general introduction to the issues being covered in the paper. Part 2 centers on the analysis of certain criteria that probably could be applied as to differentiate a language from a dialect. Part 3 and Part 4 introduce two distinguished kinds of dialects, namely, regional dialect and social dialect respectively through detailed examples. Part 5 investigates the different aspects of register
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Similar idiolects make up a particular dialect, and similar dialects make up a particular language. This statement in some sense presupposes that all the idiolects of a dialect and all the dialects of a language are mutually intelligible (Wang,1992:11). However, we can easily find cases to counter-argue this thesis if the principle of mutual intelligible serve as the only criterion for differentiating a language from a dialect. Take for example, the Scandinavian languages (including Norwegian, Swedish and Danish). Speakers of these three languages can, with little effort, understand and communicate with one another. These languages are mutually intelligible. According to the principle of “mutual intelligibility”, they are different dialects. But the fact is that they are usually assumed to be different languages. If we turn our attention to China, we will find that speakers of Cantonese and Mandarin will tell you that they speak the same language. People speaking Cantonese and people speaking Mandarin are not mutually intelligible at all, yet they almost certainly insist that they speak different dialects of the same language—Chinese, not different languages, for to the Chinese a shared writing system and a powerful social and cultural tradition form essential parts of our definition of language. So for these and other reasons, then, we cannot use the test of “mutual intelligibility” to differentiate between dialect and
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