Introduction to language variation


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Introduction to language variation

  1. 1. Many people are probably not aware of the extent to which sistematic differences exist within languages. Internal variation refers to the property of languages of having different ways of expressing the same meaning. This is a property that is inherent to all human languages and to all speakers of a language.
  2. 2. The term language variety is used among linguistcs as a cover term to refer to many different types of language variation. The term may be used in reference to a distinct language such as Italian or French, or in reference to a particular form of a language spoken by a specific group of people such as Appalachian English, or even in reference to the speech of a single person.
  3. 3. When a group of speakers of particular language differs noticeably in its speech from another group we say that they are speaking dialects. It is any variety of a language spoken by a group of people that is characterized by systematic differences from other varieties of the same language in terms of structural or lexical features.
  4. 4. The appropiate term for systematics phonological variation is accent. It is often used in refference to foreign accent or regionally defined accents such as southern or northern accents.
  5. 5. The form of a language spoken by one person is known as an idiolect. One criterion used to distinguish dialects from languages is mutual intelligibility. If a speaker of one language variety can understand speakers of another language variety and vice versa, we say that this variety are mutually intelligible.
  6. 6. Another complication for the criterion of mutual intelligibility is found in a fenomenon known as a dialect continuum. This is a situation where, in a large number of contiguous dialects each dialect is closely related to the next, but the dialects at either and of the continuum( scale)are mutually intelligible.
  7. 7. A group of people speaking the same dialect is known as a speech community. Speech communities may be defined in terms of a number of extralinguistic factors (extra- in the sense of ‘outside of’ , that is, factors non based in linguistic structure), in cluding region, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity.
  8. 8. Communicative isolation results when a group of speakers forms a coherent speech community relatively isolated from speakers outside of that community. This type of isolation was perharps once a posibility but is beoming increasingly rare these days owing to social and geographic mobility, mass media, ect.
  9. 9. • Silva-Corvalán, Carmen (2001) Sociolingüística y pragmática del español. Washington D.C. Georgetown University Press.