Burney, Jennifer Pittman, Rebekah Revels, Marisa Suggs,
Dialect is defined, by Funk and Wagnall’s Encyclopedia, as a “version of language differing in some aspects of grammar, pronunciation, or vocabulary from other forms of the same language." Dialect includes various terms that as a whole define the meaning. Dialectology, dialect geography and linguistic geography are three components that correlate with dialect. The traditional study of dialectology has focused on regional dialects but has evolved to include social and geographical placement.
Dialect often answers the question, “Where are they from?” Because of the different areas and locales, the answer could begin as broad as "America" and filter down to be as specific as "The United States," the "South," "Georgia," and "Macon." Dialects can convey geographical information about the speaker, but can go further when describing what language is being studied.
American English-Regional Variation
Three Major Dialect Regions:
1. Northern Region: This region consists of New England, from Vermont to New York and all the states between the Great Lakes and the Pacific Ocean.
2. Southern Region: This region includes Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and all of the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico, including Texas.
3. Midland Region: This is the largest region, consisting of most of the United States. It extends from Pennsylvania and New Jersey west into Ohio and south along the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia into the Carolinas.
Black Vernacular English or African American Vernacular English is a term originally coined in the late 1960s by linguists who wanted to avoid the negative connotations of previous labels such as "Negro dialect" or "Nonstandard Negro English." The black working class is more likely to use these forms than the black middle class is.
Issues in dialect usually stem from the debate over what people view as Standard American English and what they do not view as Standard American English. Because people come from different backgrounds and have had different experiences, this becomes a particular problem for communication. Issues arise that confront people everyday in all jobs and in most dealings with other people.
According to Walt Wolfram and Donna Christian’s Dialects and Education, the term dialect itself has several “popular” meanings that stem from the technical definition of dialect. Often people refer to dialect when talking about the way people from certain regions or certain social groups speak. While this is part of it, it is not the entire definition. Other times people refer to people who are speaking different languages as speaking dialects. For example, someone may say, “The Native Americans from North and South America speak many different dialects,” when in fact, they are speaking different languages (4).
No matter what job you have, dealing with dialectal differences is something that you will face. Working at McDonalds presents a cashier with several problems during any given shift. McDonald's cashiers, educators, adn TV and newspaper reporters all encounter dialect. Similarly, the rest of the country has to deal with the cashier, the teacher, and the reporters.
AAVE (African American Vernacular English)
Some people call this dialect "Ebonics," a blend of the word "ebony," meaning black, and "phonics." However, many people find this term to be altogether offensive. AAVE is a form of English that has been strongly influenced by the morphology and lexical patterns of some African languages. An example of AAVE is a sentence such as "I be tired." This example illustrates a phenomenon called the "habitual 'be.'" Not merely an error, the "be" in this sentence has particular semantic content. As Victoria Fromkin and Robert Rodman explain in An Introduction to Language, the use of "be" indicates that the speaker is habitually tired, whereas someone who says "Mary tired" is noting that a Mary is tired today.
Similar vernacular variations of the English language also exist with many Native American tribes and among immigrants who may add some their own language to English. Many people would argue that these vernacular forms of the language are separate languages and should be treated as such in the United States
World English in America
As many Europeans immigrate or have immigrated, it is important to remember that just as English stemmed from Proto-Indo-European and that English, French, Spanish, etc. developed along different lines, so did American English, Australian English, and British English and that there will be different accents, connotations, etc. that make it hard for speakers of each language to understand one another. Regional dialect differences contribute to a lack of understanding between many people across the United States. Although regional variation in language is not the definition of dialect, it is definitely a characteristic of dialect. Dialect is a complicated issue with many different components; however, understanding it is key to effective communication, no matter what the occupation or social role.
Crystal, David. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
This book, written by David Crystal of Cambridge University, handles the English language in a comprehensive manner, but approaches the topics ins such as way that they can be studied individually. There are convenient cross-references for different topics within the lessons. Crystal starts with a study of the history of the English language from its Old English roots through Modern English. Then he moves into English lexicon, grammar, sound systems, writing systems, and regional and social variation. Crystal finishes by talking about new ways to study English. A table of contents and a specific index help make this book easy to follow. Sidebars, charts, and pictures make the topics easier to understand and visualize.Wolfram, Walt and Donna Christian. Dialects and Education: Issues and Answers. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1989.
This book, written by experts from the Center for Applied Linguistics, takes a look at many questions people pose about dialect. The question and answer format makes it clear and straightforward. While most of the issues that are addressed center around education, the questions can be applied to different areas as well.Exercises