I recently started my career as a French teacher, and I'm noticing lot of my students, whose mother tongue is Persian, argue on the usage of a given sentence or idiom in their native language.

For example, one says that "In Persian, we say 'xxx' when we want to speak about x concept", but someone else in the class responds with "No, we never say 'xxx' to speak about x concept".

One might tend to think that the speakers come from different social classes and use a different sociolect or come from a different generation, but all students are from the same generation and from the same social class (upper-class of Tehran).

I wonder if a paper has been written about this, or if it has a name in linguistics? Could somebody give more details about this phenomenon and the causes of it?

  • [corrections: French teacher] People have different notions of what is and is not grammatical. These are just personal differences. Some of those students may be right and some not. We can't tell because we don't speak Persian here per se. People just disagree about grammar etc. You have to look at each individual argument and decide, as a teacher.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 0:39
  • Hey Lambie, this phenomenon was observed by me in different languages, included French. This type of "arguments" are common and would have been interesting to know the name the phenomenon.
    – anonymous
    Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 1:50
  • It is not a phenomenon. It's just disagreement among native speakers. It happens all the time in all languages. It's just disagreements about grammar. I don't understand why you think it is a "phenomenon". Disagreements on subject matter exists in all human endeavors...By calling it a phenomenon, you make it sound like disagreements about language usage are unusual. They just aren't.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 14:30
  • @Lambie To me, "phenomenon" means "anything that can be observed". And exceptionality is not the standard for naming a phenomenon, afaict.
    – awe lotta
    Commented Nov 3, 2023 at 18:28
  • @awelotta Who said anything about "exceptionality". People disagree about grammar all the time. This is not a "linguistic phenomenon". It's a disagreement, like any other one .
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 4, 2023 at 15:32

1 Answer 1


In sociolinguistics, we were taught that the literature refers to individual-level differences in language usage as idiolects.

  • The OP specifically stated this is not sociolinguistics. And the opinions from students are potentially completely uninformed or misinformed or actually true.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 14:33
  • @Lambie OP merely said that e didn't believe it the disagreements were due to sociolects per se. Then, "individual-level differences" would be exactly what e's looking for.
    – awe lotta
    Commented Nov 3, 2023 at 18:30

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