Skip to main content
33 votes
Accepted

Why do even completely illiterate persons, who speak their national language poorly, speak their local dialect with perfection?

This clashes with my long-held idea that in order to learn to speak a language - even one's native language - with perfect compliance with the rules, one must have had the rules taught to him/her, ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 67.1k
24 votes

Why do even completely illiterate persons, who speak their national language poorly, speak their local dialect with perfection?

This clashes with my long-held idea that in order to learn to speak a language - even one's native language - with perfect compliance with the rules, one must have had the rules taught to him/her, ...
Adam Barnes's user avatar
16 votes

Why does Russian not vary from region to region?

First of all, it varies to some extent. People from Ural region, people from Rostov-on-Don, people from Vyatka region have quite recognisable pronunciation norms. The same with vocabulary, there's ...
shabunc's user avatar
  • 919
16 votes

How does an original proto language produce its daughter languages?

A proto-language is a hypothesis - it's a theory about the history of a language family. A proto-language is a model of the closest common ancestor of the daughter languages, but which is not directly ...
curiousdannii's user avatar
  • 6,218
14 votes

How does an original proto language produce its daughter languages?

The theory is that there is a community, whose members speak "a language" (one language). They go about life, roaming the plains of whatever, and their children learn that language. As long ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.2k
12 votes

Why do even completely illiterate persons, who speak their national language poorly, speak their local dialect with perfection?

One aspect is that you're suffering from confirmation bias. Those people define their dialect. The only ones to judge the correctness of their speech are themselves. Everyone is a master in their own ...
Agent_L's user avatar
  • 221
12 votes
Accepted

Is there a clear linguistic reason for Swiss German not being considered its own Germanic language?

Is the premise of the question actually true? Alemannic German actually is considered its own language for many purposes. For example, it has its own ISO code, Wikipedia etc. As far as I know, ...
Adam Bittlingmayer's user avatar
11 votes
Accepted

What exactly is the "German Language"

Everything that is designated with the word German somehow concerns the continental Germanic dialect continuum. This designates a region from southern Denmark in the North to South Tyrol (Alto Adige) ...
Jan's user avatar
  • 1,160
11 votes
Accepted

The "th" sound as a plosive in British dialects

Th-stopping has always been a distinctive feature of Irish English, where the phonological distinction between [t] and [t̪], [d] and [d̪] is mostly maintained. It is not characteristic of most ...
Michaelyus's user avatar
  • 7,516
10 votes
Accepted

What is it called when a person pronounces the letter t in the word "metal" as something more similar to a d sound?

The phenomenon is known as "flapping", and the result, transcribed as [ɾ], is a "flap". It also applies to /d/, but people notice it most when applied to /t/ since the result is more different ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.2k
9 votes

Why do even completely illiterate persons, who speak their national language poorly, speak their local dialect with perfection?

It comes down to the difference between natural acquisition and book-learning. Everybody learns their native language perfectly, just by constant exposure and use. Nobody ever teaches you the rules of ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.2k
8 votes

How different are Urdu and Hindi?

How do Hindi and Urdu actually differ? Is the relationship between the (spoken) languages more like the relationship between Glaswegian English and American English or Spanish and Portuguese? ...
Rizvim's user avatar
  • 111
8 votes
Accepted

Why do some English speakers insert a /t/ in ⟨else⟩ and say /ɛlts/?

In /l/, there's a closure between the sagittal middle of the tongue and the roof of the mouth. Air is released along the sides of the tongue. In /s/, more or less the opposite happens. The sides of ...
Sverre's user avatar
  • 907
8 votes
Accepted

How different are Chinese dialects?

Your question is an interesting one, in general how to compare the comparisons of languages and more specifically about the Chinese family. The usual qualitative measure of difference is mutual ...
Mitch's user avatar
  • 4,475
8 votes

What ways do you know to encourage people to come up with different ways of saying the same thing?

I'm not sure whether this will meet your needs, but my colleague Pete Becker used to do a little trick to generate descriptions. He wanted to underline the point that there were an infinite number of ...
jlawler's user avatar
  • 10.1k
8 votes
Accepted

Is there a linguistic term for replacing past tense verb with present tense?

Sometimes this phenomenon is known as the narrative present or (especially by Latinists) historical present. Another potential phenomenon going on is that your dialect has developed relative tense. ...
matan-matika's user avatar
  • 2,364
7 votes

Can Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian be considered linguistically distinct?

I grew up the in the former Yugoslavia, and the language I studied in school was called Serbocroatian, which was spoken in four out of the six republics of the union. You were basically studying the ...
Daniel N.'s user avatar
  • 181
7 votes
Accepted

Is Occitan a single language or have its different dialects become separate languages?

I'm looking for the general distinction between a language and a dialect and a language family; what makes it one rather than the other? How are languages and dialects distinguished from one another? ...
iacobo's user avatar
  • 3,132
7 votes
Accepted

What's the longest extant dialect continuum?

For geographical distance, I think a Slavonic dialect continuum from the westernmost dialects of Czech via Slovak, Ruthenian, Ukrainian, Southern Russian, and Russian up to Vladivostok cannot be ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

Difference between dialect levelling and pidgin formation?

In the process of dialect levelling, the grammatical system of the dialects (tense, nominal case systems, other complex features) usually stays intact. The dialects undergoing dialect levelling are ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

Are consonants more stable than vowels?

There are some factors that make vowels more volatile than consonants in general Consonants have fixed points of articulation and modes of articulation while vowels live in a continuous space In most ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

Origin of the English word 'tooth' being pronounced /tʊθ/?

I don't know anything about the change in pronunciation of this particular word, so this is just a partial answer. The more general sound change this is a part of is shortening of /uː/ (from Middle ...
brass tacks's user avatar
  • 18.3k
7 votes
Accepted

How to make a reference grammar of colloquial forms of a language?

No, there is no easy way to make a reference grammar of a "colloquial" language, in fact I think that it is impossible to do so, but you could dial back your aspirations and write "a ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.2k
6 votes

How can a Language or a Dialect be incorrect or inferior than some other one?

When you study linguistics, you learn about two approaches -- prescriptive and descriptive. Modern linguistics tend to prefer the descriptive approach, whereas early linguistics were often done in a (...
tripleee's user avatar
  • 716
6 votes

Minimal Pairs Highlighting the Difference between American and British English

The problem is that "minimal pair" refers to two distinct words in one language signified by the choice of one vs. another sound. So minimal pairs are not what you want. You want a list of "same word"...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.2k
6 votes

How do linguists differentiate a dialect from a language?

The closest to a general consensus is the criterion of mutual intelligibility: if speakers of the lects can understand each other, they are dialects, otherwise they are languages. This immediately ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.2k
6 votes
Accepted

What's this punctuating feature of some peoples' English?

It's a "tag". Here is a paper on tags. Armagost 1972 English declarative tags, intonation tags, and tag questions is a good introduction, IMO. Your examples are "declarative tags" (section I), and ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.2k
6 votes
Accepted

Calabrian/Sicilian and unstressed e/o

Not all Calabrian is the same Calabrian (it: Calabrese) is the name given to the romance dialect continuum spoken in Calabria. It is commonly divided into two different language groups: In the ...
iacobo's user avatar
  • 3,132
6 votes
Accepted

Conflation of language dialects and phonology

There are a number of speech-form clusters in the world, that is, genetically related languages which are so structurally similar that they are said to be "dialects" of a language – e.g. Saami, Shona, ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.2k
6 votes
Accepted

Can the "dialect continuum" phenomenon be recognized from Rome to Lisbon?

Yes, it can. Just going along the mediterranean cost there is a nice chain of dialects from Roman, Tuscan, Ligurian, Provençal, Langedoc, Catalan, Southern Castillian to Portuguese. Maybe there is a ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible