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  1. #1
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    Default The English language and its varieties

    Having seen this post in: http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/vi...?p=19103#19103
    I thought to add a couple of questions to it and to throw it in the Ask a Teacher’s section… I am, indeed, very much interested to know more about the English language. Thanks.

    Q-1: The English language and its varieties. What are the varieties of the English language? Does the English language have varieties? And how they differ, if they do so, to the Italian ones?

    Q-2: English and its dialects. Does the English language have dialects? And if so, are these deriving from the English language or are proper languages itself?


    A summary of the Italian Language its history and its varieties.

    The Italian language has gone trough a lot of changes from World War II, and yet if we look at the Divine Comedy, which was written in the Tuscan vernacular in 1315 A.C., and if we try to analyse the words that "the good old" Dante used to compose its oeuvre with, and then compare it to the modern Italian language, we can see that almost nothing seem to have changed.

    However, the Italian language has acquired a whole battery of neologisms, jargons, and foreignisms especially: Anglicism, Gallicism and some Arabism. Moreover, this language has many intricate varieties, which differ in space and power; by this I mean the geographical position of the speaker, to its age, the social status he belongs too and the level of education he/she has had.

    Also, a very important factor to be considered is the level of formality or informality that is employed in a conversation or in a piece of writing, furthermore, who are the speakers? Or for whom is the piece of writing been written to? Do they know each other? Is it a friendly epistle or an official one? To these questions and to the varieties of the Italian language we must add its dialects, which should never be thought as a deformation or a vulgarisation of this language. For Italian itself was a dialect, the Tuscan dialect, or better the Florentine vernacular, which was spoken by the common people the volgo instead of Latin.

    This vernacular was picked by Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio: the Tre Corone, after they had had searched throughout Italy for the purest of the idioms to juxtapose with the language of the nobles and the Church, which was Latin. And with which he had written his Comedy, and because of the popularity that this opus had gained, throughout the whole of 1560-1890, when the countless discussions on the Questione Della Lingua took place, thus each time the result was the same: the language of the Divine Comedy had had to be the national language of Italy. (Lepschy, 1992)

    Hence, all the other Italian dialects must be considered sister languages, which have their own syntax and lexicon; yet these dialects go through further categorizations, for some of these have been standardised over the years, hence they fall in the category of the dialectal Koinè, and similarly to the Italian language varieties, the dialects too must be considered by the same logic of space and power.

    Moreover, within the country’s legal boundaries there are small virtual islands where people speak other languages as their first language instead of Italian, these are called language minorities, and have the same rights as the main language.

    There is a lot more to say about the Italian language, but I shall stop here for now.

  2. #2
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    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    Yes, English definitely has varieties. There is American English, Canadian English, British English, and Australian English (Strine). You might include Indian English as another variety. And the varieties have sub-varieties. (The Nigerians probably learned their English from the British.)

    A couple of suggestions.

    Say: since World War Two
    Say: belongs to
    Say: seems to
    Say: similar to
    Say: written for
    (You write a letter to somebody (presumably because you are going to send it to him), but you write a speech for an audience or you write a book for its potential readership.)

    • Sam: I wrote a poem for you.
      Pam: Good! Read it to me.


    :)

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: The English language and its varieties

    How different are the dialects of Italian and are they changing nowadays?

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    Thank you for this.
    I am quite interested in the English varieties and in its dialects, these can delineate a, I think, a lot of a countries’ character.

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    Default Re: The English language and its varieties

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    How different are the dialects of Italian and are they changing nowadays?

    I’ll try to come back soon to your question with a thorough answer, in the mean time this map show how many dialects are in Italy, and each of these dialects have a subcategory which differs in between themselves.
    http://www.arcaini.com/ITALY/Italian...20Dialects.htm

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    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Nice map!

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    Default Re: The English language and its varieties

    Hmmmm . . .

    Hi, Italian Brother. Here I am, in an Internet cafe in Perth, Australia. This is my first contributive visit to this site; and I'll crank out an extemporaneous essay-ette on the subject of dialects for you:

    To begin, hold this thought: the defining of a 'dialect' is a political matter. Someone once said, 'A language is a dialect with an army and a navy,' meaning that who gets to be on the top of the language mountain -- and thereby position the practices of less politically powerful speech communities -- depends on the old men in stripey trousers who write the textbooks.

    English is a language of West Germanic origin. It was brought to what is now the U.K. by Saxons between the Fifth and Tenth Centuries. (This is all evilly simplistic.) However, at that time, as the pre-existing languages were already mixing with it to produce what came to be called 'Anglo Saxon,' the Romans had been and gone . . . and left plenty of words. Moreover, Latin was the language of Christendom; and that also had an enormous influence.

    In the Eleventh Century (Battle of Hastings, 1066), the 'French' (the Normans) conquered most of 'England.' French was the language of their 'regime' for centuries. Chaucer's English -- Middle English -- (It always astounds students that Shakespeare wrote in Modern English.) is of this period -- and that's Phase One.

    Phases Two and Three kick off at around the same time:

    Phase Two was the 'transplanting' of English speakers to the New World -- the American continent -- in the Sixteenth Century. When any body of speakers ups and moves, the language that they speak changes. So, back in jolly old England, a great number of dialects (including Scottish English and Irish English) already existed -- and the U.K. remains the region in the native-English-speaking world with the greatest variety of dialects. The U.S. has many fewer speech communities, and also now a much larger number of native speakers. This numerical superiority, in tandem with the economic strength of the U.S., is the reason why American English is dominant though the U.K. is the 'home' of the language.

    Phase Three was the transplanting of English to all the countries that were colonised by the British. (With Australia as an exception: we started as a penal colony. I am not quite sure about the number of countries that still have significant bodies of native-English-speakers as a result of colonisation, but I think that it is around a quarter of the world's nations. If you are interested enough, find a 1920's world atlas -- that is, an atlas of the period at which the British Empire was at its height -- and check out just how much of the world was pink. (Pink is the colour that was generally used to colour the British chunk of the world.) A posting somewhere here mentions the English-speaking competence of the Nigerian Prime Minister -- and why not? Nigeria was a British colony.

    Ask for further details if you care to. I will teach you some principles about the defining of 'dialects,' and about two related topics, that is, creoles and pidgins.
    Finally, get your hands on a copy of David Crystals 'Encyclopedia of Language.'

    Mark in Perth

  8. #8
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    Default Re: The English language and its varieties

    Blast!! I've posted the draft and lost the final essay-ette. Lesson learned: write texts off-line, and then post them
    Mark in Perth

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