dialect / register

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Gavril, Sep 5, 2013.

  1. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Hello,

    How would you define the difference between a dialect and a register?

    On a previous WR thread, a poster made the distinction between dialect and register as follows (if I understood correctly):

    - A dialect is a linguistic system defined according to the individuals who use it
    - A register is a linguistic system defined according to the purpose/context of its use

    The above definitions seem to correspond to how the terms are normally used, but according to these definitions, it seems much clearer that "registers" exist than that "dialects" exist.
     
  2. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    The linguistic terms are not standardized, so you will meet many different definitions and you will experience big discrepancies in use. Some people will even deny existence of such things like language, dialect, and so on.

    Based on the prevalent use in professional and half professional circles of people, I see the following possibility of defining the terms:

    1. Dialect: a local variety of a language*, usually understood by speakers of other dialects of the same language, often without a standardized grammar or spelling, used mostly for non formal purposes in a local community or among people coming from the same community but living in another community than that they came from. There is often no consensus if such a local language variety is a dialect or a language. The choice is usualy taken on the basis of political or conventional criteria and never on linguistic ones.

    2. A speech register: a way of speaking or writing including vocabulary, syntax and pronunciation (or spelling) chosen by individuals to express themselves depending on the circumstances they speak: high register (formal occasions like parliamentary speech, official documents, celebrations), low register (informal occasions, conversations among family or friends' group). There are also many in-between registers and specialized occasions like religious services, sport events, and so on.

    An individual may choose his dialect as a speech register for informal occasions, and a standardized language of a larger social unit on formal occasions (often called diglossia).


    * Language: an extremely diffuse term, used in many meanings, with no consensus on what it means. Originally: the same as speech. Often used in the meaning "national language", i.e. a standardized and codified speech (oral and written), giving a nation or ethnic group a feeling of unity, and endorsed by a state.
     
  3. germanbz Senior Member

    Benicàssim - Castelló - Spain
    Spanish-Spain/Catalan (Val)
    I think the "register" is included in the "dialect". The way, the phrases, the polite conventions, the formal speak or informal slang all of them belong and probably characterize the dialect.
     
  4. Hulalessar Senior Member

    Andalucía
    English - England
    Not if you accept that someone may be bidialectal. If we forget about definitions for a moment and replace "dialect" with "language" we can easily accept that if French is spoken by individuals A, B, C, D and E and Chinese by individuals B, C, D, E and F that that does not stop both French and Chinese from being languages because A does not speak Chinese or F French, or because B, C, D and E speak both French and Chinese. The same applies to dialects.

    Ben Jamin's definition of dialect is essentially one which opposes the written standard and any associated spoken variety against varieties not regarded as standard and is, as he suggests, what the term "dialect" is popularly taken to mean. However, any objective assessment of how varieties relate to each other, and accordingly how they should be classified, ought not to take into account the where the speakers happen to live and/or their social status. The problem is that it all tends to be relative making scientific classification tricky.
     
  5. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    But why should Chinese and French be considered dialects rather than registers (or sets of registers) in this case?

    A person who is bilingual in French and Chinese will choose to speak one or the other based on pragmatic criteria (i.e., which is more likely to communicate the desired message in the current context) -- this seems like a distinction of register to me, whereas the definition of dialect from the original post seems to imply that dialectal differences are not the same thing as differences of register.

    BTW, I'm not trying to get into a discussion of the language/dialect distinction -- instead, I'm wondering (among other things) whether a language/dialect is more than the sum of the registers that it exists in.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2013
  6. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    On what grounds one should define French and Chinese as dialects and not separate languages? The official classification of the various languages in China as dialects of Chinese is odd enough, as they are almost 100% unintelligible with each other. Calling the relation between French and Chinese dialectal is even mor odd!
    But both Chinese and French can be spoken in the same register (high, low or any kind of intermediate, literary and popular).
     
  7. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    I basically agree with the definitions in #1 but I would like to add a third concept to complete the picture. This might resolve some of the difficulties with the concept dialect:
    - A dialect is regional variety of a language.
    - A sociolect is a variety of a language typical for a social group or class
    - A register is a variety of a language adapted to speech situation.

    The three interact; e.g.:
    - Upper class sociolects are usually more oriented towards prestige dialects and show less regional variation than the language of the average Joe in the street.
    - The same is true for registers: In a business letter or a solemn speech you are less likely to use regionalisms then when you go out to the pub with your buddies from school days.
    - Certain social groups prefer certain registers. A university professor is more likely to express himself in a higher, more standard register than a farm worker in the same speech situation (e.g. in shop).
     
  8. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    Ok, but this suggests/implies that e.g.
    1. A Piemontese child, whose first language is the Piemontese, does not have a mother tongue (lingua madre) but "only" a mother dialect.
    2. The Piemontese is a regional variety of the Italian language (which is not true, I think)
     
  9. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    I thought we had agreed to keep this messy dialect vs language business out of this thread. At least I am all for it.
     
  10. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Isn't it possible to collapse the concepts of dialect and sociolect into the concept of register?

    Unlike the first two concepts, the definition of register incorporates a causal mechanism: differences of register are caused by differing pragmatic situations, whereas dialectal differences are not caused by geographical borderlines, and sociolectal differences are not caused by separations between social groups (though such separations may normally involve a corresponding pragmatic separation -- a desire to distinguish the groups from each other, and so on -- that results in differences of register).
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2013
  11. Hulalessar Senior Member

    Andalucía
    English - England
    I think I would amend the definitions given above as follows:

    - A dialect is a linguistic system defined according to the individuals who use it and may be regionally and/or socially based
    - A register is a series of choices made within a given dialect according to purpose/context
     
  12. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Are we sure that every register belongs to a larger dialect? I don't think there is any necessary dependence here.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2013
  13. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    If a register is defined as "a variety of language adapted to speech situation", then I don't see how it's possible to collapse dialect and sociolect into register without changing the definition. I suppose you could label all these three concepts language-internal variation (without delving into questions about what a language is), but the distinction between dialect, sociolect and register is useful.
     
  14. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    The main difference between dialects and sociolect on the one side and register on the other side is that register use depends on speech context for the same speaker while the others are characteristic of the group the speaker belongs to. Of course, the three interact but it is still useful to differentiate.

    I see no advantage in collapsing the distinction dialect vs. socialist but many disadvantages, among them that such an amorphous concept of dialect obscures the difference between dialect and register.

    PS: Crossed with previous post.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2013
  15. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    No, this apparent paradox is based on using the same word (language) in different meanings.

    1. A child you describe has a mother tongue. The tongue is the Piedmontese (independent of if you call it dialect or language).
    2. Most linguists (except die hard Italian centralists) acknowledge now Piedmontese as one of Italian languages (Gallo-Italic).

    Maybe we could avoid the discussion about language versus dialect by using the word tongue as a common term for both.
     
  16. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    While there can be specific linguistic features that differ from one group to another, I don't think we can assume that a sociolect/dialect as a whole is a "feature" of a community. For example, people in an English-speaking community aren't bound by any natural force to continue speaking English -- their reasons for doing so are pragmatic, and therefore it seems valid to say that English is the register (or set of registers) that they speak in.

    When I mentioned collapsing sociolect/dialect into registers, I didn't mean to discard the concept of dialect and sociolect entirely. Instead, I was proposing treating dialectal and sociolectal differences as specific cases of variation between registers.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2013
  17. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    As I said, the three interact. The difference that by using the term register is that speech context is in the very nature of a register.
     
  18. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    OK, but I wouldn't agree that sociolectal and dialectal differences aren't also based on speech context.
     
  19. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    It is not there primary characterrustic whereas it is for register. That makes the distinction useful because it provides the appropriate concept to analyze if a certain variety, word or feature is used by a speaker for regional, social or context reasons.
     
  20. Hulalessar Senior Member

    Andalucía
    English - England
    I do not think it is the case that registers in any given dialect will match the registers in any other. A change from one dialect to another may be forced because one dialect has not developed the terminology to discuss what the speakers want to discuss. In other situations the dialect chosen may depend on what the speakers perceive to be the correct one to use in the situation they find themselves. That may also happen in the case of registers, but you will be using a register of a particular dialect and choosing words and ways of saying things considered appropriate.

    Suppose you are a Neapolitan in Naples. You go to see your lawyer who is also Neapolitan to discuss a contract. You greet each other, discuss the price of Lamborghinis and how well Napoli played in their last match all in Neapolitan. The lawyer gets the contract out and you switch to Italian. There you have changed dialects.

    Suppose you are a Neapolitan in Milan. You go to see your lawyer who is not Neapolitan to discuss a contract. You greet each other, discuss the price of Lamborghinis and how well AC Milan played in their last match all in Italian. The lawyer gets the contract out and you continue in Italian. There you have not changed dialects, but you will have changed registers.

    It is of course all very messy because any dialect or register may exist on a continuum. Depending on circumstances speakers may signal a change in formality by changing dialects, by changing registers or a combination of both. Jargon and slang, each of which may overlap respectively with "high" and "low" registers, may be involved, but not necessarily. Despite all that, I think it is possible to have a concept of register separate from dialect or anything else if it is conceived as being about using different degrees of formality within a given dialect. If someone is monodialectal it is perfectly possible to imagine that he uses different registers in different situations. In the Amazon Rainforest it could be speaking to his wife; addressing the elders of the village in a meeting; discussing the best places to find game; etc. In an English village it could be speaking to his wife; addressing the vicar; discussing whether it is time to sow winter wheat.
     
  21. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    How are social and geographic reasons not a *type* of context reason in this case? Social/regional divisions are simply potential causes of differing pragmatic contexts.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2013
  22. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Maybe "register" can be defined in this way, but this seems quite a bit narrower than the definition from post #11: i.e., a series of choices made within a given dialect according to purpose/context.

    I'm still not sure why a register has to be seen as a subcategory of a dialect. I can think of a possible reason, but it would require a slightly more detailed definition of dialect than we've used in this thread so far.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2013
  23. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    Sociolect and dialect refer to the context in which the speaker lives. Register is concerned with the CURRENT speech context. If, e.g., a speaker in one context uses standard language or dialect is a question of register, which dialect he uses when he uses dialectic isn't.
     
  24. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Doesn't the context in which the speaker lives consist of one or more current speech contexts?

    This would be true if the term register only referred to variation *within* a dialect, but that doesn't seem to be implied in the definitions of register from (e.g.) posts #1 and #7.

    Again, maybe it does make sense to define registers in relation to a particular dialect, but I think we need a more specific definition of "dialect" for this to work.
     
  25. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    This is a tricky task. Creating a new definition of dialect, acknowledged by only a handful of persons wouldn't contribute to any constructive conclusion. It would be a kind of "scholastic" science (in the medieval meaning of the word). We have to relate to the diffuse concept of dialect as it is.
     
  26. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    Sociolect and dialect refer to static context of a given speaker, register to varying contexts.
    The scenario of my example was exactly the opposite: Speakers of different dialect deciding between standard language ("RP") and their respective regional dialect as a matter of register. Which dialect they use when they do not use standard language is not a matter of register.
    We do: dialect describes variation that is due to regional differences, sociolect describes variation of speech that is due social group the speaker belongs to and register describes variation that is due to situation-specific context.
     
  27. Hulalessar Senior Member

    Andalucía
    English - England
    Perhaps the word "formality" does restrict the definition a bit, but that is what register often comes down to.

    I do not think that "register" is a subcategory of "dialect" anymore than "room" is a subcategory of "dwelling". In fact "dwelling" is quite a good, even if imperfect, analogy for "dialect". However large or small both dwellings and dialects are (at least at some level) discrete entities. Just as a dwelling may have rooms so a dialect may have registers. You use different rooms for different purposes but whichever room you are in you are still in the dwelling. You use different registers for different purposes but whichever register you use you are still speaking the same dialect. You do not need to define "dwelling" to define "room" and so you do not need to define "dialect" to define "register". The fact that "dwelling", "housing estate", "suburb" and "town" may all be social units does not change the position because rooms are thought of as parts of a dwelling and not as part of a town. Also, just as when defining what a room is you do not need to get into an argument about whether when you have a block of flats it is the block or each individual flat which is the dwelling, so when defining register you do not need to worry about whether you are talking about a language or a dialect.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2013
  28. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Again, I don't understand how "the static context of a given speaker" can be more than the sum of many, varying day-to-day contexts.

    If I say that I live in an English-speaking town (dialect), or an English-speaking social group (sociolect), I'm referring to certain features that are shared between the day-to-day registers I speak -- I'm not referring to something separate from these registers.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2013
  29. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Huh? :) If a room is a segment of a dwelling, you most certainly do need to define "dwelling" in order to define "room".

    The problem with the room/dwelling analogy is that rooms are fully contained by the dwellings that they are a part of, whereas the term dialect only refers (as far as I can see) to certain features that are shared between registers, not to every single feature of a register.

    For example, the various registers of English differ from one another in vocabulary, pronunciation, morphology, syntactic constructions and so on; sometimes, people speaking one register are barely intelligible to people who are accustomed to speaking another register. Why then are these registers grouped together under the umbrella of "English"? A possible answer is that all these registers share certain basic features: there is a certain "core" of basic vocabulary and structure that all English speakers have, in addition to the unique features of each individual's speech.

    If we define the terms language and dialect as referring to this "core" of features shared between registers, then it's possible to define registers in relation to a language/dialect, while also accounting for the fact that registers of the same language/dialect are sometimes so different as to be unintelligible.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2013
  30. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    If a speaker speaks say today German with Bavarian dialect he won't speak Swiss German dialect tomorrow but he may well use a different register in five minutes when he finds himself in a different speech situation.
     
  31. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    He will if he encounters people who speak Swiss German and can also speak Swiss German himself.

    Of course, you could assume for the sake of argument that he doesn't speak Swiss German, but the same logic applies to registers: if the person finds himself in a social situation he is unaccustomed to, he may not be familiar with the register used in that situation either.

    What's more, the dialectal differences that separate Swiss German from Bavarian German are the result of many differing day-to-day circumstances over the course of history.
     
  32. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    If... But that's not what's happening. I really don't understand your point. The concepts are straight forward and represent the most typical reasons for language variation: 1) Where you come from 2) which social group you belong to and 3) in which situation you are. Conceptual and terminological differentiation if useful, blurring the distinction messes things up. As with all definition, this is not a matter of correct or false but of more or less useful and distinguishing sociolect, dialect and register is useful, certainly more useful than muddling them up into one concept.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2013
  33. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    I thought we were discussing what *could* happen, and the scenario I mentioned (a Bavarian speaker meeting a Swiss German speaker) seems well within the range of possibility.

    This is not in itself a reason for language variation. The place where I live or come from doesn't exert a special causal force on the way that I speak -- instead, people who live in separate places encounter different circumstances, and this usually (but not necessarily) causes differences in the speech of each respective person/group.

    Again, it isn't my belonging to a certain social group by itself that makes my speech different: it's the different situations that occur in separate social groups (and, often, the situation(s) that led the groups to separate in the first place).

    I think the situation is the primary cause operating in cases 1) and 2) as well.

    I'm suggesting that we treat sociolects and dialects as ways of classifying registers, rather than treating the three categories (dialect, sociolect and register) as orthogonal to one another. I'm not proposing to do away with any of the three categories.
     
  34. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    A dialect or sociolect is not something you choose, it is something most people are born into and never change. You might be able to switch between standard language and dialect but not between Bavarian and Swiss German. A register is something you choose in a given situation because you consider it appropriate. You use different language when you talk to your boss then to your friends in the pub, you use different language when you write a love letter then when you write a business letter. I would regard this difference as quite fundamental, even if the categories are not entirely orthogonal; but then, few categorizations ever are.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2013
  35. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Are you implying that it's impossible to learn a non-native dialect (where "dialect" = a non-codified regional variety of a language) or a sociolect through conscious effort? I've never made such an effort myself, but it's not at all clear to me that such an effort could never be successful. Isn't this what generally happens when a field linguist goes in and studies a previously undocumented or poorly-documented language?

    There may be more conscious choice involved, on average, in register-switching than in dialect-/sociolect-switching, but again, it's far from clear to me that this is a fundamental difference between the two.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2013
  36. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    In the contexts of languages with extremely little regional variation like American English (essentially just slightly shifted vowels and a few dozen regional expressions), I can understand that the differentiation seems somewhat arbitrary. But in languages with very heavy dialects (that's why I chose an example from German), regional differences are quite independent from register differences.
     
  37. Hulalessar Senior Member

    Andalucía
    English - England
    In what follows, "dialect" should be taken as including "sociolect" and "region" as including "social group".

    If someone from Edinburgh says: "Will I put the light off?" he is asking the person addressed whether he wants the light off. If someone from London says: "Will I put the light off?" he is asking the person addressed to speculate whether he is going to put the light off; if he wants to ask the same question as the person in Edinburgh he would say. "Shall I put the light off?" The differences may be described as dialectal.

    If in both cases the speaker is addressing, say, his boss and not his brother, and wants to know if he is to put the light off, in Edinburgh he may say: "Will I put the light off, sir?" and if in London: "Shall I put the light off, sir?" The presence of the word "sir" indicates a change of register, but in neither case is the speaker changing his dialect. The point is that the register is the same in both cases and the fact that it is indicated by using the same word is immaterial; if speaking Spanish the register may be indicated by using the word "Don" before the person's forename. A "polite way of speaking to the boss" register exists in many languages. Accordingly if dialect is defined as a way of classifying registers we would have to conclude that someone addressing his boss in Stockholm and someone addressing his boss in Bangkok are speaking the same dialect, which is as absurd as saying that two people wearing identical clothes must speak the same language.

    "Clothes" is quite a good analogy. A person's dialect is like his wardrobe. Your wardrobe may contain formal and casual clothes, but what is considered formal and casual in the society you live in may be quite different from somewhere on the other side of the world. That does not stop there being two distinct categories of "formal clothes" and "casual clothes", but what brides wear in the Punjab does not need to be considered when describing the different forms of dress worn by café society in Milan.

    "Dialect" necessarily involves notions of difference or variation. You describe a dialect by setting out how it is different from one or more other dialects in terms of one or more of phonology, accent, morphology, syntax, lexicon and semantics. You compare the way people speak in one region with the way they speak in one or more other regions. A dialect is a complete system comprising the sum of its phonology, accent etc etc and includes its slang and jargon. "Registers" are the different ways speakers of a given dialect employ the elements of phonology, accent etc etc specific to the dialect according to situation.

    So, whilst it may be true that any given dialect is a collection of different registers you cannot define a dialect in terms of its registers because register as a concept is independent of dialect. Whilst it is possible to conceive of a dialect without registers, it is not possible to conceive of an instance of a register which is not actually expressed in a dialect.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2013
  38. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Berndf: my ideas about dialect vs. register are not based on the specific situation in American English -- see my response to Hulalessar below.

    Hulalessar:

    If I understand you correctly, you are saying that 1) the register used for addressing the boss in Bangkok and 2) the register used for addressing the boss in Stockholm are the same register of different language/dialects.

    I see two problems with this view:

    - It's not clear to me that the two registers are neatly commensurable with each other, such that you could label them "the same"
    - Even if they are commensurable to some extent, they are still two different registers of human communication as a whole: register 1 is appropriate if you are dealing with a boss who has grown up speaking Thai, whereas register 2 is appropriate if the addressee has grown up speaking Swedish; the two situations are different, and accordingly, the registers used in each situation are also different.

    Of course, it is still valid to say that registers 1 and 2 belong to different languages/dialects, because of the ways they differ from each other (in structure and vocabulary). Most human registers can be grouped under a certain dialect because of the way that people tend to learn language: there is probably a certain basic "core" of vocabulary and structure that most people learn as children, and that surfaces in most (if not all) of the registers they use in communication. You could call this basic core the "dialectal component" of a register: the component that leads registers to be classified under one or another dialect.
     
  39. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    Registers express things like formal vs. casual or technical vs. poetic, etc. Dialects are just different. E.g., Swiss German constructs the subjunctive with the ending -i, Bavarian constructs it with the ending -at. There is nothing situation specific, nothing more or less formal, more or less technical, etc. about the ending -at or -i. It is just a different morphological scheme.

    The only point where they interact is that choosing dialect or standard language it a register choice. But which dialect you choose isn't and hence dialectal differences cannot be explained as register differences.
     
  40. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    You are free to define register this way, but again, this is narrower (and not necessarily more useful) than "a linguistic system defined according to the purpose/context of its use" (the definition from the original post).

    How so? If you have grown up speaking Swiss German, this by itself means that your present situation is not equal to that of a person who has grown up speaking Bavarian. Similarly, regardless of your native language, your situation is different when you encounter a group of native Swiss German speakers versus when you encounter a group of native Bavarian speakers.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2013
  41. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    If it weren't to express such extra-linguistic contexts as I described, you wouldn't call it a register.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2013
  42. learnerr Senior Member

    Russian
    Greetings,
    May I chime in?

    Why do you take these contexts are extra-linguistic? Whether the formal and casual situations differ or not must depend on the language; one cannot know a priori how many registers the language has, and what are their characteristics. For example, in English the technical speech seems to be very closer to the live speech, yet farther from the formal speech, than in Russian (unless I am deeply mistaken); so, techno novels are almost impossible to translate into Russian. Anyway, this is an example how the register thing might depend on language/dialect.

    What eventually matters is how people talk, choosing words; abstractions, like language/dialect/register go away on this level, they all mesh into the same thing, losing distinctions.
     
  43. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    Formal vs. casual is a dimension that can also be expressed linguistically but isn't an intrinsically linguistic concept. It is a concept of inter-personal relations that can, e.g., also be expressed by dress code or behavour.
     
  44. Nino83 Senior Member

    Italian
    I think that the difference between dialect and register is clear.

    A dialect is a language without a flag and an army. A dialect differs from another dialect in morphology, pronunciation and even syntax.
    When someone changes register he simply varies some grammatical rule but he's speaking the same language.

    For example, when we use tu/voi(vous) distinction or a verbal tense instead of another one, we change register.

    Es. Tu penses a quoi? A quoi pensez vous?
    Es. Se fosse você, eu deixava assim. Se fosse você, eu deixaria assim.
    Es. Non pensavo che veniva. Non pensavo che venisse.

    When we change dialect we're speaking another language.

    Avè la sidella al nas (milanese)/Avere il secchio al naso (italiano)
    a mama ve dona i schei (veneto)/la mamma vi da i soldi (italiano)
    Xé mejo el tacon del sbrego (veneto)/E' meglio la toppa del buco (italiano)
    U zuppe a ballà, u cacàgghje a candà (pugliese, Foggia)/Lo zoppo a ballare, il balbuziente a cantare (italiano)
    Chi sta ben ch'a s'bogia nen (piemontese)/chi sta bene non si muova (italiano)

    Chi troppo vuole nulla stringe (italiano)
    Chi troppe la taire la spizze (pugliese)
    Chi trop vol an ha gnint (emiliano)
    Chi voeur tropp, ciappa nagott (lombardo)

    There's little mutual intelligibility between different dialects, with some exception.
    For example in Italy only in a few dialects there is the full pronunciation of all unstressed vowels (toscano, marchigiano, umbro, romano, sicilian language and his dialects that are southern calabrese and salentino, but sicilian language has a pentavocalic system). Gallo-Italic dialects (piemontese, lombardo, ligure, veneto, emiliano) are similar to French. All final vowels except the "a" are lost and a lot of consonant are lenited or lost (these are Gallo-Romance languages).
    Southern Italian dialects (campano, pugliese, lucano) are similar in morphology to Central Italian dialects (toscano, marchigiano, umbro, romano) and Extreme Southern Italian dialects (siciliano, calabrese, salentino) but almost all unstressed vowels and final vowels are reduced to schwa [ə] so there is little mutual intelligibility.

    Therefore mutual intelligibility is high between Central Italian dialects and Extreme Southern dialects but is very low between these dialects and Gallo-Italics or Southern Italian dialects.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2013
  45. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    The term register exceeds dialectal boundaries. The same register can be used by speakers with different dialectal backgrounds and they still sound different. And as berndf has already mentioned, register is mostly about the social context, i.e. extra-linguistic factors: what is appropriate and what is inappropriate. The term dialect on the other hand is dealing with the grammatical system itself: what is grammatical and what is ungrammatical. Being informal in a situation which requires you to be formal may be considered rude, not ungrammatical.

    I really don’t see how you can merge these two concepts :confused:
     
  46. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    ... or the lexical system. Examples: to table means to put on the agenda on British English and to take off the agenda in American English; corn salad it called Feldsalat in Germany, Vogerlsalat in Austria and Nüsslisalat in Switzerland. Non of these differences have anything to do with register.
     
  47. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    I'm not convinced that any two registers are "the same". For example, in what sense is the (so-called) formal register of Japanese "the same" as the (so-called) formal register of French? I very much doubt that these two registers occupy exactly the same social space in the societies that use them.

    And, even if these registers did occupy the same social space in each society, they are still used in different respective societies, and therefore are not equal to one another -- one register is appropriate for being formal to people who speak Japanese, the other for being formal to people who speak French.

    Isn't a person's grammar shaped by the communicative contexts that the person has been in, and therefore, by what that person has learned to consider appropriate or inappropriate methods of communication?
     
  48. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    I thing this is rather question of terminology and "preciseness". The "formal register" could be also divided in "subregisters", some of which may not be present in French, but in Japanese yes and vice versa.
     
  49. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    I never compared formal Japanese with formal French. If you look at what I wrote, then you'll see that I mentioned speakers with different dialectal backgrounds. I am sorry if it wasn't clear but I was of course thinking of speakers of the same language but with different dialects.

    I have a feeling we don’t have the same understanding of what a register is. Is it a fully-fledged grammatical system with phonology and syntax or is it something else?

    A person’s grammar is of course shaped by the communicative contexts the person has been in, but then again, grammaticality and appropriateness are very different things.
     
  50. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    It is unlikely that different societies will develop exactly the same registers as no two societies will develop identical norms. But that that doesn't change much. Registers vary for the purpose of conforming to social norms associated with varying social (not linguistic) contexts.

    And even if the registers don't match exactly, the broad categories registers express are usually quite similar. If native Icelandic speaker told you a certain word is considered colloquial is that language you have a pretty good idea what these means even if you don't speak Icelandic, e.g. that people normally wouldn't use it in funeral speeches or official letters.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2013

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