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The Way Different Dialects are Formed

By Maliha Rahman


What is the “right” way to speak English? Is there a right way? Is there a right way to speak any language? English is interesting because it is spoken in so many countries around the world and is one of the most widely spoken languages. As a result, you can find many different accents and phrases spoken across the world that all fall under the umbrella of the English language.


There is actually a word for this phenomenon. These differences in the spoken English language, or any language, are known as dialects. These dialects are often based on geographic location. England has its own dialect of English. So does Australia, and the Caribbean islands, and India. One can assume that any English-speaking country has its own dialect.


But dialects can happen within the same country as well. America is a great example of that. Dialects can generally be divided into the geographical sections of the US. For example, people in the southern United States tend to speak slower and draw out their words (“y’all” being a well-known example), while people in the northeastern United States tend to speak faster and with a sharper tone. Philadelphians, in particular, are known for saying “water” in one fast breath in a way that may be hard to understand if the listener is not from the area.


Dialects can form in even smaller communities. Beyond geography, dialects are also formed through social and cultural factors. People who belong to a particular social group or community often have their own way of speaking that is different from others. For example, teenagers might use slang words and phrases (“omg slay”) that are not commonly used by adults, and people who work in certain professions might use technical words that are specific to their field.



Dialects can also be formed through historical factors. For example, the English language has gone through many changes over time. In the Middle Ages, English was spoken very differently than it is today. For example, today we would say, “Where are you Romeo?” while people during that time would say, “Where art thou Romeo?” Old English was heavily influenced by Germanic languages, and it had a very complex grammar system. As English evolved over time, it was influenced by other languages, such as French and Latin, and it became simpler in terms of grammar and pronunciation.


One of the most fascinating things about dialects is that they are always changing. Just as English has evolved over time, so too do dialects. New words and phrases are constantly being added to the language, and people are always finding new ways to express themselves. In the past few years, Merriam Webster has added slang words to the dictionary, like jawn, cringe, and vacay.


Dialects are an important part of our language and our culture. They give us a sense of identity and community, and they allow us to express ourselves in unique ways. When we embrace dialects and try to understand them, we open ourselves up to new perspectives and ideas. How do you use language to express yourself?


Sources:

The diversity of American English dialects. The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation. (2021, February 19). https://www.grammarbook.com/blog/pronunciation/the-diversity-of-american-english-dialects/

Nordquist, R. (2019, October 29). Do you know what a dialect is?. ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/dialect-language-term-1690446

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