Differences Between Language and Dialect

If we are asked what our language is, would we say that it is Spanish? But what would we answer if we were also asked what our dialect is? Many people would be surprised if they had to make a distinction between these two concepts. Differences Between Language and Dialect

First of all, linguists define the term “dialect” as the variation of a language used by a certain group of people in a certain geographical area. So what difference is there between them? Well, it is said that the language or language is that form of communication that is most widely accepted in a country. This means that the dialect is just a subdivision of the main language.

Language is the sum of the parts, while dialect is a subdivision used by a particular group within a society. The first one has more prestige over the dialect; even in other decades, the dialect was considered a deviation that broke with linguistic norms.

DIALECT  Differences Between Language and Dialect

Although there is no definitive agreement yet among researchers, it is actually correct to say that the term “dialect” refers to a variation of the main language or idiom, which is used more locally. Dialects that share the same grammatical characteristics (not necessarily pronunciation and vocabulary), with their closest linguistic forms, are described as local. Furthermore, many linguists also argue that the difference between them is more in a political, historical, and sociological sense than a linguistic one. The difference is subjective rather than objective.

Neither of the two can be distinguished by virtue of structural differences, because this would be like differentiating between English and Chinese.


The language is politically determined. This means that a qualified and authoritative group within society can dictate which of the many dialects should be chosen as the official language of the state. This has been done many times throughout history.

On the other hand, the dialect and the language of a certain place are usually related in such a close way that it is often difficult to differentiate them. That is why it can be said that people who reside in the same place and speak the same language or dialect; share similar inherent characteristics between the two.

Key differences

  • The language is more general, while the dialect is more particular and specific to an area.
  • The first one has more acceptance and is granted more prestige than the dialect; which in some cases is considered a deviation of the language.
  • The language is politically and historically determined, while the second one is being incorporated by the speakers themselves.

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