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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Language and Dialect - The Differences

What is the difference between a language and a dialect? That’s not an easy question to answer as there is no consensus in the linguistic community. However, we can say that a language as defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary is the words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them used and understood by a community. For example we all know of languages such as English, French, Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic, etc. Dialect on the other hand is a subset of a defined language, a variety created by a group and affected by social class, contact with other languages, and geography.

This difference is easier to understand if we use an example; think about the regions of Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands in Spain where the Catalan language is spoken. These regions are in close proximity to each other and share many cultural and linguistic traits however depending on the culture and geography a different subset of Catalan is spoken. Western Catalan is spoken in Valencia, while Barcelona and the Balearic Islands speak the Eastern variety.

The main difference in the structure of these dialects is the use of unstressed vowels and the use of specific lexicon. For example in eastern Catalan the word mirror is translated as mirall , while in western Catalan the word espill is used. Another example of difference in lexicon is the translation of the word boy, which in Valencia would be xiquet while in Barcelona noi would be used.

Knowing a country's language, and for that matter, its dialects, is as interesting as knowing its culture. World Interpreting, Inc. and Day Translations are your best allies if you need to have accurate, high quality and reliable interpreting and translation of your documents fast and easy to and from any major world language.

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