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Lexical differences between dialects quite nice website with lots of examples: www.bl.uk/learning/langlit/sounds/activities/lexical-variation/

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Presentation on theme: "Lexical differences between dialects quite nice website with lots of examples: www.bl.uk/learning/langlit/sounds/activities/lexical-variation/"— Presentation transcript:

1 Lexical differences between dialects quite nice website with lots of examples:

2 2/14 Lexical differences Independent of accents, varieties of English differ in the lexicon By “dialects” we mainly refer to varieties associated with geographic regions … … but this course will (later) be concerned with other sorts of varieties, which can also be characterised by lexical differences –“registers” related to levels of formality –“sublanguages” related to different subject matters

3 3/14 Lexical differences Lexical differences generally not as extensive or obvious as phonological differences Not surprising: if they were too many differences, mutual understanding would be jeopardised, and we’d describe them as different languages Indeed, “same language” status in doubt between dialects with extensive differences (eg British ~ American)

4 4/14 Lexical differences Tend to be dotted around the lexicon, but can be concentrated in areas of vocabulary –especially high local resonance (names of flora, fauna, cultural significance) –old technologies independently developed before globalization (eg car terms in AmE) –vocabulary reflecting distinctly different system (eg legal system, education) Not the same as slang, though slang is (also) notoriously dialectal

5 5/14 Lexical differences: categorization Lexical borrowings from local (foreign) languages Local feature or speciality has name not found elsewhere –Group of things more specifically distinguished locally Different names for the same thing Word or set of words exchange meanings

6 6/14 Lexical borrowings Widespread in Scots and Irish English –kirk (church), dreich (overcast), brae (hillside) –taoseach (prime minister), dail (parliament), garda (police), craic (fun) Norse borrowings in NE and Cumbrian –bairn (child), gammerstang (awkward person), lawp (jump), gan (go), yem (home)

7 7/14 Local distinctions Classic Whorfian idea that language is conditioned by environment –Seafarers recognize/name different types of boats –More specific names for fish in fishing communities fish names also subject to variance: same name – different fish in different locations –Local animal or plant names –Terms used by farmers –Below the level of dialect you might find special words used within a family or other close-knit group eg kinship words (mother, father, grandmother/father …) private references

8 8/14 Just different names Biggest category, thousands of examples –eg Terms connected with food and drink barm, barm cake, bread cake, bap, batch, batch cake, bun, roll, muffin, cob –Words associated with children’s games, incl. truce words: barley, fainites, pax, scribs, skinchies Distinguish where local word is alternative, or replacement –daps, pumps, plimsolls (no standard term?) –roundabout aka island~circle~circus~rotary

9 9/14 Lots of examples Can you think of any local dialect words in your dialect? –Actually you may not know that a word is dialectal until you travel elsewhere –Or, there may be some lexical differences which your dialect is “famous” for –Some dialect words may just be the result of accent differences eg where they say kuh for ‘cow’ they also say hus ‘house’ etc

10 10/14 Vocabulary merry-go-round BrE~AmE: jam~jelly~jello BrE~AmE: biscuit~cake~cookie~cracker Scots: live~stay There seem to be specific things which are subject to massive variance, while other things are universally named –cf bread (everyone calls it bread)

11 11/14 Vocabulary globalization fries (and fish and chips in NAm) AusE chips (crisps), hot chips (chips) movie(s), candy, cookies

12 12/14 Dialect morphology (?) How are diminutives formed? Some dialects seem to have a greater propensity to form diminutives Often in a distinctive manner –Liverpool: bickie, ciggie, footie, plazzie, brekkie –Aussie: garbo, ambo, this arvo, journo, muso, brekko –old RP: footer, rugger, preggers, shampers, brekker (see

13 13/14 Dialect geography Just as you can map isoglosses that distinguish features of accents, you can map incidence of dialect words Later in this course we will look more closely at some of the methods involved in dialectology –methods of collecting data –issues in quantifying dialect difference

14 14/14 spell spelk speel spill splie spool splint shiver silver source: Upton, C. & J. Widdowson (1996). An Atlas of English Dialects. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Words for ‘splinter’


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