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As a matter of act, after this came up in comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html the other day, I read (but now can't find ... unusable because many of the respondents who apparently spoke Scots didn't conceive of it as Scots but as bad English.

Many of the older generation were probably told as much in school, some even having been disciplined or ridiculed for speaking their native dialiect.

Odysseus
No, this Scots/English thing, no matter whether you call it ... considerable contact over the years with the south, of course.)

In that case, some of the dialects of Northumberland and nearby counties have an equal claim to language status, especially since at one point they must have been speaking Norse.

And the distinction between Scots and standard English is just the latest stage in a long story. For most of the history of English, the dialects of northern England have been closer to those of Scotland than to those of southern England. And, if you go back to the 14th century, Middle Scots is a lot more immediately intelligible to a modern English speaker than the contemporary works of Chaucer.

Don Aitken
Mail to the addresses given in the headers is no longer being read. To mail me, substitute "clara.co.uk" for "freeuk.com".
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I suggest we say that a variant is a dialect that doesn't need its own dictionary.

"Idiolect: The language or speech of one individual at a particular period in life".
Having studied some maths, too, I think I have to prove that a variant = an idiolect and vice versa. Hmm, all idiolects are variants of languages but all variants of languages are not idiolects. Bugger.

Anyway, an idiolect doesn't need its own dictionary. If a person uses a word nobody else knows, he must either teach it to other people or simply let it be inused Emotion: smile.

Keep Ireland clean, throw your trash in England!
Keep Ireland clean, throw your trash in England!

Certainly. UK Plc will happily accept incoming waste materials from the Irish Republic. Please specify whether you would like recycling, incineration, or landfill. See order form for price schedule. Note that there is a small surcharge for high-level radioactive waste.

Mark Barratt
There must be some Scots who don't consider Scots to ... minority or a majority of Scots, I have no idea.

Why must there be? There have at various times been people who have insisted that some or other minority or ... the people) that they are a people comes to be the dominant view. It's the same with language and dialect.

The difference between a language and a dialect is not merely a matter of opinion to be decided by a democratic vote of the qualified electorate. There are matters of fact. For example, Scots and English originally arose separately out of similar linguistic origins, but being to a considerable extent mutually comprehensible and adjacent, and becoming closely linked politically, the two languages have been converging ever since, most of the converging being done by Scots. They are still rather more different in vocabulary and grammar than most dialects, and more so than some language pairs which resemble one another.

Chris Malcolm (Email Removed) +44 (0)131 651 3445 DoD #205 IPAB, Informatics, JCMB, King's Buildings, Edinburgh, EH9 3JZ, UK (http://www.dai.ed.ac.uk/homes/cam/)
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Why must there be? There have at various times been ... the dominant view. It's the same with language and dialect.

The difference between a language and a dialect is not merely a matter of opinion to be decided by a democratic vote of the qualified electorate. There are matters of fact.

In whose opinion?
For example, Scots and English originally arose separately out of similar linguistic origins, but being to a considerable extent mutually ... more different in vocabulary and grammar than most dialects, and more so than some language pairs which resemble one another.

If all those statements are true, what bearing do they have on the question?

Peter T. Daniels (Email Removed)
The difference between a language and a dialect is not merely a matter of opinion to be decided by a democratic vote of the qualified electorate. There are matters of fact.

You must be new.
There is no defined threshold between a dialect and a language. It's meaningless to speak of factually meeting or not meeting a non-existent criterion. The difference between dialect and language is like the difference between big and huge.
There must be some Scots who don't consider Scots to ... minority or a majority of Scots, I have no idea.

Why must there be? There have at various times been people who have insisted that some or other minority or ... the people) that they are a people comes to be the dominant view. It's the same with language and dialect.

The problem with the above is that you are assuming that identification with a people automatically leads to identification with a language. It does not. Think of all the Americans who are descended from some people other than the English, but identify with the English-speaking community, even though they might also identify with an ethnic community (Italian, for example, or Chinese). The same is the case with the French-speaking community: You don't have to descend from an ancestor who lived in France to identify with the French-speaking community.
While I had in mind that some people might have been taught that Scots is "bad English" (see Harlan Messinger's post on the subject, message ID Message-ID: (Email Removed)) I also think it inevitable that there are bidialectal Scots who identify with the English-speaking community and consider that they themselves speak two dialects of that language.
Note that none of this says anything about what *I* think of the distinction between a language and a dialect (I've said plenty about that elsewhere, but nothing about it in this thread).

Raymond S. Wise
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
E-mail: mplsray @ yahoo . com
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
It seems to me that just about every language on the planet has one or another form of a dialect ... it is. I loose no sleep over it. I'm just glad I'm able to get my points across and communicate.

To discuss the matter, we really need understand what the other person means by the term "dialect."
For example, based upon what you have written above, I would say that you distinguish "pure" languages from "dialects." This is something which no linguist would now do, since it is based upon a misunderstanding of the history of languages. "Cuban Spanish," for example, did not descend from "pure Spanish," but instead from a variety of dialects from Spain, with influences from other languages. The same can be said of any American English dialect: None of them are descended from something that might be called "pure English."As I have said elsewhere, linguists have come to realize that the standard variety of a language (which the average person with no knowledge of linguistics often identifies as the "language," contrasting it with "dialects") as being itself a dialect. That's how I use the word "dialect": Dialects are either standard or nonstandard, the standard dialects can be regional (Standard American English and Standard British English, for example), and the nonstandard dialects can be regional dialects, class dialects (the "joual" dialect of French in French Canada, for example), or racial (African American Vernacular English).

Furthermore the standard dialects can have developed naturally (as was the case with the standard dialects of American English and British English) or can have been artificially created (the Nynorsk standard dialect of Norwegian, for example). There are, of course, artificial elements very carefully crafted and, in some manner, officially agreed upon in the standard dialect, such as many terms from chemistry and biology.
So, by my use of the word "dialect," you speak a dialect, but so does every other speaker of Spanish.

Raymond S. Wise
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
E-mail: mplsray @ yahoo . com
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