Mapping dialect and it’s influences

by MattThomason on January 16th, 2013

The origins of language in humans has been a topic of scholary discussion throughout the ages. It has been documented in the Christian bible in the book of Genesis as a ‘confusion of tongues’ and has been deemed by some scholars as unsuitable for serious discussion due to a lack of empirical evidence.

In 1866, the Linguistic Society of Paris went so far as to ban debates on the subject. However, today, there are still many questions left unanswered and a growing number of professionals have attempted to address this mystery with new methods.

French Artist Gustave Doré's interpretation of the confusion of tonguesFrench Artist Gustave Doré’s interpretation of the confusion of tongues

Further questions remain around dialect or accent. Received Pronunciation is considered the standard English accent in England although it is clear that around England and indeed Great Britain the accent can vary vastly. People from the West Country may have trouble understanding someone with a Geordie accent. Similarly, someone with a Cockney accent may have problems understanding someone with a Glaswegian accent. Dialect is usually interpreted geographically and split into certain regions.

Every dialectal feature has its own boundary line, called an isogloss and these features can be attributed to the division of certain dialects and associated with names of geographic regions, for example, Bristolian or Brummie accents.

Dialect also has some relation to a person’s social background. In many localities, dialectal differences are connected with social classes, educational levels, or both.

dialectsDialects from across Great Britain

It’s possible that we may see the diminishing of dialect in the modern era. The ability to communicate with people from around the world with ease may cause isogloss boundaries to blur and accents to become more similar.

On the other hand, it could be argued that despite the ease of communication individuals are no longer communicating vocally. In the 21st century people communicate more via email or by short message services (SMS) as oppossed to actually speaking to one another.

Do you think there is a future for dialect?