What are social dialects

Social dialects

Another important axis of differentiation is that of the social classes. In many areas, dialectal differences are associated with social classes, educational levels, or both. More-highly educated speakers and, often, those belonging to a higher social class tend to use more features belonging to the standard language, whereas the original dialect of the region is better preserved in the speech of the lower and less-educated classes. In large urban centers, innovations unknown in the former dialect of the region frequently develop. Thus, in cities the social stratification of dialects is especially relevant and far-reaching, whereas in rural areas, with a conservative way of life, the traditional geographic dialectal differentiation prevails.

Differences in education among speakers have a major impact on the scope of their vocabulary. In addition, practically every profession has its own expressions, including technical terminology and sometimes the casual words or idioms peculiar to the group. Slang, too, is mainly characterized by a specific vocabulary and is much more flexible than an ordinary dialect, there it is subject to fashion and depends heavily on the age group of the speaker. Slang, just like a professional dialect, is mainly used by people who are, in a sense, bi-dialectal. This means that besides slang they also speak another dialect or the standard language. Dialectal differences often run parallel to the religious or racial division of the population.

Dialectal change and diffusion

The main cause of dialectal differentiation is linguistic change. Every living language is constantly changing in its various elements. Since languages ​​are extremely complex sign systems, it is inconceivable that linguistic development could affect the same elements and even transform them in the same way in all places where a language is spoken and for all speakers in the same place. At first glance, the differences caused by linguistic changes seem small, but they inevitably accumulate over time (compare, for example, Chaucer's English to modern English or Latin to modern Italian, French, Spanish or Romanian). Related languages ​​usually start out as dialects of the same language.

If a change (an innovation) occurs in only one section of the speakers of a language, a dialectal difference automatically arises. Sometimes an innovation in dialect A contrasts with the unchanged use (archaism) in dialect B. Sometimes there is a new innovation in each of the two dialects. Of course, various innovations will appear in different dialects, so that, compared to its contemporaries, not a single dialect as a whole can be considered archaic in the absolute sense. A dialect can be characterized as relatively archaic because it has fewer innovations than the others, or it can only be archaic in one characteristic.

After the appearance of a new dialectal feature, the interaction between speakers who have adopted that feature and those who have not leads to its range being expanded, narrowed, or even disappearing. In a single social milieu (generally residents of the same place, generation and social class), the chance is very good that a new dialectal characteristic will be fully accepted or rejected. The intensive contact and the awareness of belonging to the social group promote such uniformity. When several age groups or social classes live within the same place, and especially when people who speak the same language live in separate communities, dialectal differences can easily be maintained.

The element of mutual contact plays a big role in maintaining speech patterns; Therefore, the differences between geographically distant dialects are usually greater than those between dialects of neighboring settlements. This also explains why bundles of isoglosses so often form along important natural barriers - impassable mountain ranges, deserts, uninhabited swamps or forests, or broad rivers - or along political boundaries. Similarly, racial or religious differences contribute to linguistic differentiation, as contact between members of one belief or race and those of another within the same area is very often much more superficial and infrequent than contact between members of the same racial or religious group. A particularly strong influence is the relatively rare occurrence of mixed marriages,