The term dialect refers to a variety of a language that is characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers.The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors, such as social class.
A dialect is distinguished by its vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation (phonology, including prosody).
“ […] one important disctinction between speaking traditional-dialect and speaking General English with a given accent is […] a matter of the phonological specifications of lexical items, that is of the lexical incidence of particular phonemes in particular words.”
The first thing we notice about a person’s speech is where he comes from: where he grew up, and maybe where he currently lives (in very broad terms).
Accents are powerful indicators of geographical identity.
A group of people sharing the same ‘accent’ may as well share experiences, cultural perspectives, historical backgrounds etc.
We might regard different accents of our same region, to be rough, rude, ugly, or nice, posh, well educated. All those conceptions, nevertheless, are geographically distinct and are constantly building up.
Regionality is seen not only from country to country, but also, from urban people to countryside people, from city to city, neighbourhood to neighborhood , etc
There is a perceivable connection between cultural appreciation, language and social class (although it may not happen in all cultures)
Non-phonetic factors and phonemic factors might lead us to regard someone as to be from the lower, middle, higher or whatever class we can think of.
Studies have found that (in England) a person from a working class will speak with a greater regional ‘accent’ or will use his dialect more. All the opposite happens with a person from the upper class, who would use RP .
Even though we have got a certain degree of choice over our socio-economic status (that is to say, we can accomodate our language and thus guide the interlocutor’s perspective towards a given perception of ourselves) we haven’t got it (up to the same extent at least) over our sex and ethnic identity.
Culture influences the ways in which men and women use language.
In some cultures men and women are to use different patterns of pronunciation:
e.g. in Koasati ( Native American language of Muskogean origin) for the sentence “he will lift it” a man would pronounce it / / and a woman would do it like / /. In english these differences are not so notorious.
Studies performed both in the UK and the USA have shown that women, despite their socio-economic class (and thus their dialect-accent-traditional dialect) show greater tendency to use the prestige norm, “they tend to speak more standardize” (Wolfram 1969, Trudgill 1974, Le Page 1977)
At the same time, it’s supposed that women tend to use greater variation in intonation (due to their higher pitch perhaps)
Research yet, has not been able to elucidate the possible correlation between sexual orientation and phonology. Nevertheless, there is noticeably, an empiric relationship between gender/role and allegiance .
There is no necessary relationship between language (dialect / accent) and racial or ethnic origin. “ a speaker’s language is determined by the linguistic environment in which he is raised or to which he subsequently becomes exposed, and so his pronunciation of it.
The question here gets complex, because to define a dialect in terms of age, the factors to be considered are innumerable, and the discussion raises towards finding suitable definitions to dialect, variety, accent, jargon, etc.
Received Pronunciation (RP)—also called the Queen's (or King's) English and BBC English—is the standard accent of Standard English in England, with a relationship to regional dialects similar to that of other European languages.
Although there is nothing intrinsic about RP that marks it as superior than any other variety, sociolinguistic factors give Received Pronunciation particular prestige in England and Wales.
RP use is socially advantageous over other English dialects within England but carries no "special privileges" outside England. Because of its formal nature, using RP in casual circumstances can give the impression that the speaker is overly ostentatious or pompous.
The word received conveys its original meaning of accepted or approved – as in "received wisdom". There have also long been certain words that have had more than one RP pronunciation, such as again , either , and moor
RP is an accent (a form of pronunciation) and not a dialect (a form of vocabulary and grammar as well as pronunciation). It may show a great deal about the social and educational background of a person who uses English. A person using the RP will typically speak Standard English although the reverse is not necessarily true (e.g. the standard language may be spoken by one in a regional accent, such as a Yorkshire accent; but it is very unlikely that one speaking in RP would use it to speak Scots or Geordie).
Migration to London in the 14th and 15th centuries was mostly from the counties directly north of London rather than those directly south. There are differences both within and among the three counties mentioned, but a conglomeration emerged in London, and also mixed with some elements of Essex and Middlesex speech. By the end of the 15th century, "Standard English" was established in the City of London.
Julian: It’s difficult really, cause there are two sides to me: one, I’m still appalled at the quality of what we build ourselves since, so that, you know, we’re keeping probably enough of the old, I mean, the centre, say, of Cardiff looks a great deal better now than it did when I first came to Wales. And, uhm, part of that’s, that’s the old and part of that’s the new build; the two of them have, have not been too badly; and part of it’s just improvements in the, sort of, pedestrianisation and the rest of it. And that’s, that’s been, that’s been quite, quite good, but yet, you know, the outer bits are just, you know, there’ll, there’ll be bad nineties as well as there’s bad eighties and bad seventies and bad sixties building and, and those kind of rings are getting bigger [...]
Julian’s speech gives no clues to his age, occupation or where he comes from. And yet it is instantly recognisable and leads us to assume he is from a middle-class, well-educated background. His accent conforms to what we might term mainstream RP. In other words, he does not deviate from the currently accepted pronunciation conventions as recorded in dictionaries and as taught to foreign students.
Elegant and sophisticated
Many commentators would use adjectives such as ‘well-spoken’ or ‘elegant’ to describe this accent. Such value judgements are not based on linguistic criteria, as speakers of all accents can demonstrate eloquence and sophistication. But the fact that this attitude remains widespread shows the status RP still holds for many people.