Dialects are one of those words that approximately everyone thinks they have an understanding of but in reality is in fact a little bit of a pickle than it appears to be. A simple and to the point definition of dialects would be that a dialect in the English language are linguistic characteristics that may differ in pronunciation, vocabulary or grammatical framing of sentences. These variations can be associated with a significant place or region or even due to a particular social group. English speakers from different places or countries of the word speak in a variety of accents, using different local words and grammatical constructions and this can also be one the reasons as to why there are so many dialects of the English language.
Linguists have divided the dialects of the English language into three main groups or categories: the British Isles dialects, the North America dialects and those of Australasia. Dialects can’t just be associated with the regions the language is spoken in but also by the group of people the language is spoken by. Often we see that even within the same English speaking country, the dialects and accents of the people differ depending on region to region.
English is actually a curious language. It is already a mixture of the early Frisian and Saxon languages. It absorbed other languages such as Danish and Norman French and was later made an addition of Latin and other Greek technicalities. Region to region it kept absorbing terms for plants, animals, food, clothing etc from the natives of the place and thus expanding it array of words. Plus the large number of dialects ranging from Cockney to Jamaican and enormous sources of slang continue to new expressions to the mix.
If we start looking at the dialects according to the continents, then the list seems to be a huge one. Starting from Europe, North America to Asia, Africa and Oceania each of these continents have at least four dialects present in them. In Europe the dialects vary from United Kingdom to Isle of Man to republic of Ireland. In North America the United States, Canada and Bermuda all these places differ in the accents and pronunciations. Asia has different dialects as well. From Brunei, Burma and Hong Kong to Sri Lanka and Singapore the difference in the dialects is very obvious. Same goes for the difference in the style and mannerism between the people from Australia and those of New Zealand.
Some traits are exclusive to a particular dialect of the English language. For e.g. Southern English engages in the practice of dropping the r from the words pronunciation. So far becomes fa and fire become fai. Similarly the cockney dialect which was originally the dialect of the working class citizens of the east end of London has the peculiar habit of dropping the initial h from the starting of the word. Therefore house becomes aus. These small practices give the variations to the English language and hence are the reasons behind the enormous number of dialects of the language.
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