For example, the word pet appeared originally in Scottish and northern England dialect, but it is no longer felt as specific to certain regions. I have not discovered any appropriate term for such phenomenon.

By the way, is there a technical term for the reverse process (i.e. the process of generally accepted words being reckoned as dialectal terms)? An example is that the archaic word emmet is chiefly viewed as dialectal.

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    Pet is still very clearly dialectal to Northern England (not even Scotland, I think?) in its use as a term of endearment for women and children. But not, of course, in the more general use relating to tamed animals kept for pleasure. Mar 25, 2023 at 13:01
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    What do you mean by a dialectal word becoming standard? Linguistically, English has tons of dialects. Words are said to be lexicalized. journals.uchicago.edu/doi/10.1086/683179 Great article. As with all English words, it depends on the institution or source you are looking at. There is no agreement about an issue like this.
    – Lambie
    Mar 25, 2023 at 15:02
  • this seems to be a matrer of socio-linguistica to some extent, because the particular pathway matters. For example, if a seizable population of bilunguals makes frequent use of code switching, it should be difficult to say that they borrowed the word ... from themselves. And the category of such mixed languages is definitely a socio-linguistic matter in the most common case
    – vectory
    Mar 26, 2023 at 11:19

1 Answer 1


Borrowing. The standard variety borrows the word from a dialect.

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    That’s one description of it, not a name for the phenomenon as such. Borrowing, obviously, is much broader than just a standard variety borrowing a word from a dialect. Indeed, in some cases ‘borrowing’ may not even be an accurate description. It’s entirely possible to take in a word from another dialect without realising it’s not part of your own – it would be a stretch to call that a borrowing as such. E.g., this question just taught me the word bassinet, which I’d never heard before – did I ‘borrow’ it? Does it matter if it’s dialectal? Mar 26, 2023 at 1:03
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    There are so many lexical items in any language, each with their own history and provenance, that there's no special term for any of the thousands of forms it may have taken for one kind of borrowing. They all come from somewhere, and what other lects the person you heard it from habitually spoke is just unavailable --hence indescribable -- information
    – jlawler
    Mar 26, 2023 at 16:38
  • A more general term is lexicalization.
    – dan04
    Mar 28, 2023 at 21:41

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